In our modern-day and age, technology is everywhere. We use it daily both in our personal and professional lives. However, the question is, how can we use it to teach English to young learners? Although this question may seem complicated the answer is not. In fact, in the global village, we now all live in, there are many ways that this can be answered. Most schools teaching the English language may look for ways to do this such as PowerPoint presentations and full media in the classroom. In my experience, it can easily be done through the use of multimedia such as on a tablet and interactive storytelling. Let’s take a look at this with an easy explanation.
About the author: Daniel Linn currently teaches English in South Korea to young learners. He is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 120-hour TESOL certification course and Teaching English to Young Learners Specialist course.
Private ESL schools tend to use computers, smart boards, and CD players among many other technologies. I have taught in many ESL schools throughout my career that always try to optimize the use of technology. In fact, my favorite memory was working for 2 years as the headteacher at a Canadian academy in Korea. At this academy, we used a curriculum that used a touch screen on a large television from which the students would do activities and games. Not only was this educational, but also quite entertaining! The students definitely had fun while learning. Currently, I am working at a school which doesn’t have this much equipment available. So, how do I do this on my own? I use Kindle Fire Tablet for different educational activities and songs, and the in-class CD player for musical English story-telling. However, I’m not suggesting a teacher to use their smartphone to stream Youtube for children’s songs, as this could easily be frowned upon. However, a notebook or tablet does suffice and is usually accepted. In some cases, it is even provided depending on the educational institute.
It is important to remember to use technology as a teaching tool. When used as such, it is a great help when teaching young learners because it is much easier to do so while entertaining them.
Sources for Multimedia Material:
Now that we know it’s possible to effectively use a technological device in the classroom, the next thing to explore is online sources. Although it is not always the best option, YouTube can in fact give access to more specific material. In my class, I often go to YouTube to access the BBC and its series called “Alpha Blocks.” This is a great series that concentrates on teaching phonics and spelling from alphabet cartoon characters. It’s a great tool to teach children from 4 to 6 years old. Another channel on YouTube is “Super Simple Songs.” This series is great for finding songs to teach students a range of topics from shapes to specific holidays. I often search through their list for new songs that I can add to my repertoire to help maintain an entertaining yet educational class setting. In doing so, I can keep using similar material that young learners become familiar with and comfortable with while changing individual songs every so often. This is something I have done for years and will continue to do as long as it helps to develop entertaining lessons.
One way that a teacher can use technology with elementary students is through the use of musical English storybooks for reading class. For example, having a Jack and the Beanstalk storybook that comes with both an audio CD and a multimedia CD. The most useful series that I find for this type of lesson is called “Ready. Action!” This publication has many different classical stories ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Jack and the Beanstalk and many others. It continues to be available and a great tool in the classroom while using a CD player as technology.
The way to effectively teach these musical English books is by playing the audio CD while students read along in their storybooks. This helps students to connect between the written word and auditory English. There also many songs in each story that students can enjoy singing along with. In this way, you are again entertaining while educating. Send home the multimedia CD as an at-home activity to help the students remember what they learned in class. Students can also use it as homework.
With the goal of teaching English to young learners successfully, we must always know what tools to use. Young learners can be particularly challenging if you don’t optimize all the tools available. With this in mind, using technology in the classroom can be quite rewarding. By using a device like a tablet, the internet, radio sources, and even a musical series on a CD, a teacher can be more successful. Using technology in this way helps to not only educate but also entertain in a way that intrigues students and always has them wanting more.