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ESL Teachers Who Use Technology


An article of mine published in Digital Directions, a new publication of Education Week, highlights viewpoints from teachers on the benefits and challenges of using technology with English-language learners. For example, some say it's best to highlight the interactive aspects of new technology to help the students practice their language skills.

Please use the comment section on this blog to share any insights you have about using technology with this group of students.


Our school was recently named the grand prize winner of the International Reading Association Award for Reading and Technology because of use of technology with English Language Learners. You might be interested in reading about it:


For online ESL/EFL tools with audio, you should take a look at

Teachers are free.

In our ELL program, we use technology in various ways. We have taken past classroom units and developed webquests. The webquests ask the students to research the topic using the Internet and books from the library. The end task requires the students to present the information through the use of multimedia tools (i.e. powerpoint, commercial video). The Students also participate in blogs. The main blog provides a prompt which the students respond to in English. The blog allows the students to develop their English writing and provides them with a real audience. Later in the year, each student will maintain their own blog as a weekly journal. We have also used technology to provide visual and audio support.

The students are motivated and enjoy the use of technology. At this point we have not seen a difference in the students' performance grade wise compared to not using technology. I believe if we continue to develop their English skills and draw on their prior background knowledge from their first language with the use of technology, the students' proficiency in the English language will grow at a more rapid pace than without the use of technology.

As a result of limited ELL resources that directly relate to middle school students and content, we have created a website that provides webquests, blogs, podcasts, lesson ideas, best practices, and other information useful for English Language Learners and their teachers. The site is still new but growing almost daily with additional resources and updates. Please take a look at http://www.ellclassroom.com.

As the former manager of Professional Development for the Office of Instructional Technology in the NYC Dept. of Education, we included ESL and bilingual coaches in the technology integration training with ease, providing additional tools and resources online that allowed them to train other teachers on the use of the technology for both teaching English and for taking advantage of the student's native language knowledge. Even earlier (in the 90's, a Title VII series of grants allowed us to provide ESL and multiple-language age-appropriate software for students at the early to middle grades in many schools.

Today, there are even more products and online solutions that serve this growing population. The trick is using the products consistently, making sure you compare the tech results with real-life performance in the language, and making sure the products selected have been thoroughly tested with these populations and then following the publisher's model implementation exactly. The biggest mistake is to buy great software or train teachers and then "do your own thing" and not follow the model that has yielded the excellent results.

Here are some places to look for great resources:

http://www.ncela.gwu.org (Clearinghouse on language learning0

http://www.scilearn.com (Literacy & Reading software that's based on brain research)

http://www.inspiration.com (various versions in more than one language)

http://www.scholastic.com/Read180 (excellent success rate with literacy)

http://www.succes3000.com (

http://www.traduceloahora.org (a grant-based service run by IBM -- need to qualify -- but it is one of the best Spanish-language translation engines out there, especially for education and community based organizations. NOTE: every translation engine has problems with literal translation, so they can only be used to get a gist of the meaning.)

I could go on and on, but won't take up all this space in your blog to do it.

Just happy someone is pointing out the advantages of using technology for language learning. In most cases, it eases the boredome of repetition (which is, unfortunately necessary to learn any language), and in the good ones, it expands the thinking and writing and creative process of ELLs.

We are using iPods and Podcasting with our ELL students. It allows the learning to continue outside the classroom. My district provides all 3-12 grade students with a video iPod and a microphone so they listen to lessons provided by the teacher and record themselves to improve fluency. The iPod makes lessons available anytime anywhere, the podcasting allows even those without an iPod to listen to the lessons.

I am a teacher that boarders the Navajo Reservation in Page / Lake Powell, Arizona. I have found the most amazing product to help me teach my ELL students as well as all students in my class. The site is called HelloWorld, and it allows me to video record my lessons and my students can watch them from virtually any computer in the world! Not only can they watch me on a Video podcast, blog, or a posted video, but they can also watch me teach live with polling questions, a chat dialogue, and jpeg slides! I can also video email their parents and them a personal message instead of just a typed text. check out www.helloworld.com/cserventi to see examples. There are 14 teachers using this program in our district.

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