This session will explore computer-based activities that appeal to all learners, but that use language that is simple enough for beginning or intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) learners to enjoy or to create. Activities are designed to teach both English language and computer skills. We will cover skills developed through (1) accessible Web 2.0 tools, (2) serious gaming, and (3) computer applications, such as Word, Excel and Power Point.
Engaging Computer Activities for ESL Learners
Term clarification – English learners are referred to in many different ways, depending on the environment.
• ELL – English Language Learner (Now used in public schools)
• ESL – English as a Second Language (Still used in adult education and college settings and in most of this proposal)
• ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages (varied applications)
A. Title of presentation – Engaging ESL Learners Using Computer Activities
B. Purpose of presentation – This two-part session is designed to (1) expose ESL educators to the unlimited learning potential offered by carefully selected Websites and computer applications; and (2) involve educators in creating activities that both they and their students can easily adapt or expand to develop all aspects of language performance: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The resources shared in this session target beginning and intermediate ESL students of all ages (K-12 through adults), but can be adapted to other learners, such as those in adult basic education, GED programs, and remedial college courses.
Educators have always faced the challenge of teaching ESL students in multi-level, multi-cultural, and multi-language environments. Now, more than ever, teachers nationwide are hard-pressed to provide instruction to all students, with the increasing influx of immigrants into their classrooms. Public schools in the U.S. are being forced to provide specific professional development to regular classroom teachers on how to handle ELLs in classrooms with native speakers. Many schools are hiring ELL coaches, who handle heavy loads as they try to assist regular classroom teachers by either giving them suggestions or actually taking students out for specific language instruction during school hours. In addition, thousands of students await entrance to colleges that would love to enroll them in certificate and degree programs were it not for their language limitations. Adult education programs are also being swamped by students anxious to enter the workforce but unable to due to language, computer, and other academic limitations.
One highly successful approach to individualizing instruction among groups of ESL learners is to have students take advantage of all of the activities available for independent and group learning on the Web. Unfortunately, beginning and intermediate learners cannot handle the language used in most sites, even in gaming, and computer tutorials also demand an eighth-grade or higher reading level. However, there are many sites and activities that can significantly help teachers and their ESL students as they strive to acquire language and technology skills. This session will explore those resources.
C: Objectives of the two-part presentation
1. Explore Web 2.0 tools (i.e. blogging, community building, mapping, video sharing and more) presently being used to develop language and computer skills among students with limited English proficiency.
2. Participate in fun activities developed for ESL students using MS Word, Excel, and Power Point.
3. Play serious games that both teach English and allow students to compete with themselves or each other in a game environment.
4. Create three engaging activities using three MS Office applications, which students can also develop and modify to extend their language learning and computer skills.
D: Practical applications – Participants will not only take “home” their own self-created activities, but they will also be given a long list of resources that they can easily access through the Web, with instructions for both students and teachers. Once ESL instructors help ESL students learn through computer technology, they are amazed at how well students begin to teach themselves. Helping beginning and intermediate language learners become independent learners has always been a challenge, especially in multi-level classrooms, and especially through fun and laughter. By leading students into self-supporting and fun learning activities, teachers are freed-up to individualize and differentiate their instruction as needed.
E: Relationship to the conference theme: blogging, competitions, engagement, games, Google tools, media, networking, Web 2.0, and more.
F: Information (data or theoretical base) to support what is advocated:
• “Constructing Meaning With Computers.” TESOL Journal, Vol. 11, No. 3, Autumn 2002
• Quann, S and Satin, D. Learning Computers, Speaking English: Cooperative Activities for Learning English and Basic Word Processing, University of Michigan Press (ISBN: 978-0-472-08683-2), 2000
• “Benefits and Challenges in Using Computers and the Internet with Adult English Learners,” National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE), July 2000
• “Why Integrate ESOL and Computers?.” Focus on Basics, Volume 4, Issue C ::: December 2000
• http://tech.worlded.org/docs/cesol/resources.htm – Long list of books and articles that support the use of computer technology in language instruction at all levels
• “ Improving reading speed and comprehension of ESL students with the computer.” (Practicum Papers): Nova University, 1996.
• “Computer and instructional design in foreign language/ESL instruction.” TESOL Journal, 5(2), 24-29. 1996
Coordinator, Four Corners Professional Development Resource Center for the Colorado Department of Education/AEFL; Owner/consultant, The Reconnection Company; facilitator/instructor for CCCOnline, CILC, state and national PBS TeacherLine and other groups offering online and hybrid courses for graduate and undergraduate credit; Curriculum Developer and state trainer for ABE, GED, ESL, and literacy programs; Coordinator for McGraw Hill GED Online project; Webmaster for businesses and organizations; Tech Beat editor (monthly tech state newsletter for adult educators); Conference Presenter on a variety of topics relating to the use of technology for learning, cultural influences on learning, and best practices for integrating students into the learning process in the 21st Century. Previous: Tenured ESL/ABE instructor and Faculty DE Trainer for El Paso Community College. Over 40 years of teaching, administration, curriculum development and consulting in the U.S. and abroad. M.A. in Spanish (Linguistics minor) with additional literacy certification and many post-graduate hours in adult education.