A few years back to look up a word and have it translated into another language in the blink of an eye seemed impossible. You had to go to your local library and find specialized dictionaries that weighed a ton and didn’t smell so great. Going even further back in time, when ESL first started towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was all about repetition and direct translation. Looking back at it all, one might wonder, why would people be interested in learning languages if it was such a hassle?
Modern Day Technology
It might have represented more work compared to the ease of use that modern technology provides us with. Today, if for some strange reason you want to know how to say “extrovert” in Bahasa Malay, the answer is just a couple of keystrokes and mouse clicks away. With the world of information so readily available, why not take advantage and bring the world into the classroom?
In order to bring a world’s worth of information into the ESL classroom you need to have the right facilities. EF schools around the world have an area dedicated to computers and internet access better known internally as the iLab Zone.
Merging the Worlds
In previous articles, it was discussed how teenagers need a great deal of motivation. Is there greater motivation than a computer and the World Wide Web for a teen? Doubtful. The question remains, how to bring one and one together? How to incorporate this fountain of information and these wonderful facilities into the curriculum? The best way to illustrate this is with an example.
One of the EF books for teenagers features an article about fast trains from around the world. The main aim for the lesson is for students to be able to read itineraries and timetables with ease as well as develop simple dialogues based on the information provided within the context of traveling by train. With this aim in mind, after completing some activities that would have helped them read and understand the featured article and to practice reading a train schedule it was now time for students to put into practice what they have learned.
The internet turned out to be a very useful tool in this case as the teacher was able to bring the students to the “iLab Zone” and in pairs they had to find and compare train schedules and prices between Japan and two European countries. The students were very resourceful. While they were working in pairs, one student was looking up prices and timetables for the Japan East Railway company but they are working in pairs, so what’s the other student to do? The other student took advantage of the free Wi-Fi connection the school offers and with his iPhone he downloaded an app that allowed him to book a ticket on the Eurostar.
After the search and all that resourcefulness, the students were able to come up with really clever and interesting dialogues about the trips they would like to take on the rail-tracks of the world all thanks to their school and their teacher guiding them in making a world of information manageable.