Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher

This is the summary of the second #eltchat on Wednesday 29th February. To find out exactly what #eltchat is, click here.

(Since this post is full of links which may change/move at a later date, please let me know if any of them are broken. Thanks!)

“If you could recommend one particular webtool for the classroom, what would it be, and why?”

The Tools (over 40 of them!)

The famous ones

  • Skype – phone calls through the internet, including video. Simple, effective, reliable, and it works all over the world. It can be used to bring experts or other teachers into your classrooms. You can use the ‘chat’ feature to share files and write in vocabulary. You could use Skype instead of traditional listening tracks to Skype friends in the UK/US (or other countries!) For example: “With my [Shelly Terrell’s] 4 to 6 yr-old German students they learned how to do origami from @EHerrod‘s son in the UK via Skype”.
  • YouTube – even those who hate tech will still try it! It’s easy to forget how helpful thousands of the clips can be, although some schools block it.
  • Facebook – the groups function is useful for educators
  • TED – hundreds of inspiring videos by thinkers and leaders in every field imaginable
Voice recording
  • Vocaroo – voice recorder. Easy to use (single click), no need for registration.
  • Soundcloud – voice recorder with the added facility of voice commenting. SImple to upload to the internet and share. James Taylor wrote a post about it. Audioboo is useful for this too.
  • Fotobabble – upload a photo and record yourself talking about it for one minute. Some fotobabbles on this old blog  (see November/December archives)
  • Voicethread – comment collaboratively on slides/pictures/whatever you want
  • Voxopop – create talk groups to get your students discussing things together
  • Voki – create avatars to do your speaking for you. Shelly Terrell created this guide to using vokis
  • Audacity – downloadable software which can be used to record students and put together podcasts
  • You can also record voices on a smart phone
  • Videoant – video annotation which is easy to email to students/observed teachers
  • Jing – create video annotation to provide feedback to students or show them how to do something. Students can also create their own files. You can make screenshots with it too. Great for essay feedback, and useful extra listening practice. Teacher Training Videos guide to Jing
Bookmarking / link collection / organisation
Ready-made materials
  • Movie segments to assess grammar goals – activities based on films, through which teachers can present grammar points
  • EFL smart blog – a blog for students with complete mini lessons, including authentic listening and accompanying activities
  • Knoword – a vocabulary guessing game based on randomly generated dictionary definitions
  • Speakout video podcasts – the link takes to the pre-intermediate video podcasts. Each unit of the book is accompanied by one podcast.
  • Film-English – an award-winning site by Kieran Donaghy with complete lesson plans based on short films
Tools for teachers to create activities / materials
  • Triptico – a single software download providing loads of free tools; especially good for classrooms with interactive whiteboards (IWBs). Word magnets are good for colour-coding grammar explanations. The card game is good for randomly choosing speaking topics. It’s really easy to use and @David_Triptico is constantly adding new resources to it.
  • Quizlet – a great tool for vocabulary where students (and teachers) can create flashcards and immediately play games with them. Students really enjoy using it.
  • Hot Potatoes – freeware including “six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web”
  • Socrative – “a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets” and it’s free [this was my personal favourite discovery of the chat]
  • Puzzle Maker – a site which allows you to create printable wordsearches, crosswords and other puzzles. Crossword Maker just lets you create crosswords. Wordsearch Maker creates wordsearches. Nik Peachey describes how to use the latter here.
  • Wordle / Tagxedo – word cloud generators. Could be used for simple ‘word find’ activities such as ‘Spot the word with a prefix’
  • Language Garden – language plants make sentences, poems and grammar look beautiful, as well as providing visual prompts for students.
Creative tools for students
  • SP-studio – create cartoon characters based on the style of South Park cartoons. Kids can then create profiles for their cartoon characters.
  • Survey monkey – helps students to practise question forms by creating online questionnaires, as well as finding out more about their fellow students. Very easy to use.
  • GoAnimate – online video creator
  • iMovie – kids can create “movie trailers” about books they like
  • Google Docs – word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software available online for collaboration, sharing or private use. Can be used for essay writing and other writing assignments as well as for individual vocabulary banks for students.
Tools which you can integrate other things into
  • Edmodo – a closed social network for education (my post about Edmodo) – I use it to share resources with my students.
  • Wikis – but you need lots of tools to put in them. Some wiki providers include pbworks and wikispaces. They allow embedding of other tools.
  • Blogs – spaces to provide information, links and create online texts. Some providers include wordpressedublogs and Posterous (see below). They allow embedding of other tools.
  • Posterous – it focuses on all four skills; it’s easy to use; there are free apps on various platforms. Intuitive, and great for introducing blogging to students.
  • Moodle – a tool for creating complete virtual learning environments (VLEs). It allows embedding of other tools. Safe for kids too.
  • Glogster – good for project work. It allows embedding of other tools too.
For independent learners
  • English Central – students can use this outside the classroom to practise listening, reading and pronunciation as well as improve their vocabulary.
  • Lyrics training – students can listen to songs and complete the lyrics
When you implement a web tool in the classroom, what is the criteria for using it with learners? What do you look for in a web tool?
  • Accessible for free on many platforms
  • No (or at least very easy) registration
  • User-friendly for both teachers and students
  • Supports various skills
  • Fun!
  • A way to make English a tool, rather than concentrating on the language aspect
  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Offer various activities
  • Practical
  • Allow students to practise their English in a meaningful way
  • Justified from a pedagogical point of view, not just because it’s a cool new toy
  • Ease of integration with other tools
How do we get non-tech-savvy teachers excited about web tools?
  • Show the real pedagogical value
  • Through their students – if you get the students enthused, they will tell their other teachers
  • Start with showing them examples of why they can get excited, not how to use web tools
  • Show them how much time it can save them, although at the beginning it feels like they take more time
  • Lead by example
  • Introduce things in small doses
  • Give them a task that must use a web tool / taster sessions
  • Present them with simple, quick and practical classroom uses of these tools
  • Go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and help them see why they need a tool
  • Encourage them to play with tools for personal use first, for example by making birthday greetings
  • Visit their lessons and suggest alternatives
  • Do workshops which teachers bring their own laptops to – doing IT is better than watching
  • BUT: We shouldn’t feel we have to. Some teachers don’t have this option, and others are really not interested. Gareth Davies wrote a blog post expanding on this after the chat.
Tips for teachers
  • Be consistent – don’t flit from one tool to another.
  • Don’t get swept away with new tools.
  • Don’t try to do too much too soon.
  • Play around with tools to help you become more confident.
  • Test things out throughly before you introduce them. OR Experiment together with the students. (a language learning task in itself)
  • Introduce them in small doses
  • Make sure you have a plan B, just in case the tech fails. Don’t freak out! You could teach the 3rd conditional – If they program had worked you would have seen… ;)
  • Ask students to share their favourites too – they might know about tools you don’t
  • If students know that the tech exists, they can decide whether to use it or not.
  • Prepare for excitement from kids! Never be afraid to learn with them.
  • Some tools may seem too childish for adults.
  • If something doesn’t work the first time, try to analyse why and work out what you could do differently. Don’t just assume the tech was wrong. It might work with one group of students but not with another.
  • Make sure that the pedagogy comes first – don’t just use tech for the sake of it.
  • Remember that you can often do the same things without tech – do you really need it? If you can’t justify why the tech version is better, there’s no reason to use it.
Make the most of your old computer

Make the most of your old computer – image by @mscro1 on eltpics

Provisos

Some of these tools are not available in every country or at every school. Technology is still far off for a lot of teachers. You also need to make sure all of the students have access to the technology outside the classroom.

Remember that some teachers are limited to time – they have to finish a coursebook and tools take time and have to be appropriate. Ideally, you need to use a tool that will allow students to USE what they studied in the coursebook.

Other links
A small plug

On Wednesday 21st March 2012 I will be doing a presentation at the IATEFL Conference about ways teachers can encourage students to use online tools, based on action research done in my classes. Subscribe to my blog to find out the results if you can’t be there!

Update: here is my IATEFL 2012 talk.

Comments on: "Web tool recommendations (#eltchat summary)" (28)

  1. Shame I’d missed this ELTChat – most of the tools on the list aren’t surprising, I guess, although there are some I’ve never used and, perhaps, never will. The problem with tech tools is the fact that it’s so hard to keep pace!

    However, I’m surprised that one of them wasn’t mentioned and it is precisely the one I wrote about in the first ELTChat blog challenge here: http://aclil2climb.blogspot.com/2012/01/eltchat-january-blog-challenge-how-do.html

    Thanks for the great summary, Sandy!

  2. eslnotes said:

    thanks Sandy, a very useful summary; i mentioned soundcloud in the chat but forgot to link to a post where i used it in an activity (http://eflnotes.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/soundcloud-commenting-and-enhancing-listening-activities/)

    also in my opinion the ‘open source’ aspect of web tools is an important consideration, hopefully i can write down in a future post what i mean!

    cheers
    mura

  3. Yeah – thanks Sandy ….. great, very efficient summary – i was sorry to have missed it.

  4. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 12:33 […]

  5. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 1:07 […]

  6. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 6:54 […]

  7. I love the line – you can always use the third conditional if the tech doesn’t work!
    great summary and I want to hear all the details after your talk in Glasgow!
    Naomi

  8. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 4:39 […]

  9. […] Web tool recommendations (#eltchat summary) « Sandy Millin It’s really easy to use and @David_Triptico is constantly adding new resources to it. […]

  10. Great post — this is just what I need right now as I prepare for a new round of classes! Thanks!!

  11. […] this topic.Powered by Greet BoxI’m re-posting a great post by another Sandy- Sandy Millen.  See her entire post here- what a great collection of Web […]

  12. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 1:06 […]

  13. […] Web tool recommendations (#eltchat summary) « Sandy Millin […]

  14. […] Web tool recommendations #eltchat summary « Sandy Millin 9 Mar Following the #eltchat on 29th February, Sandy Millin has put together a brilliant summary of web tool recommendations for teachers:  Web tool recommendations #eltchat summary […]

  15. Marijana (mscro1) said:

    Well done Sandy, I am sorry to be missing these ELTchats. This one was very interesting. I can’t attend them as much as I want to as they are usually at the bad time for me. Love how you gathered all the tools teachers shared. The old computer pic, well looks very familiar I can’t hope for better soon, but as you say try to get the most of the technology you get. I am just happy we have internet connection in our classroom, not too many Croatian schools can say that :) Wish you all the best on IATEFL, keep us posted :))

    • Thanks for that Marijana. I’m putting together my IATEFL blog post at the moment, and when it’s all done hopefully it will be like you were there :)

  16. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } sandymillin.wordpress.com – Today, 12:57 […]

  17. […] Web tool recommendations (#eltchat summary) « Sandy Millin Hot Potatoes – freeware including “six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web” Socrative – “a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets” and it’s free [this was my personal favourite discovery of the chat] Quizlet – a great tool for vocabulary where students (and teachers) can create flashcards and immediately play games with them. Students really enjoy using it. Puzzle Maker – a site which allows you to create printable wordsearches, crosswords and other puzzles. Crossword Maker just lets you create crosswords. […]

  18. What an excellent list, some I use and some I haven’t tried out yet. Props!

  19. […] language teachers and learners Posted on 9 March, 2012 by Simon Thomas Sandy Millin summarises the recent #ELTChat on useful online tools for language teaching and learning.Share this post:Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on […]

  20. Great post…i used this tools very easy..i hope this tools are helpful for all…thanks sandy..

  21. […] This is the summary of the second #eltchat on Wednesday 29th February. To find out exactly what #eltchat is, click here. (Since this post is full of links which may change/move at a later date, …  […]

  22. […] This is the summary of the second #eltchat on Wednesday 29th February. To find out exactly what #eltchat is, click here. (Since this post is full of links which may change/move at a later date, ple…  […]

  23. […] This is the summary of the second #eltchat on Wednesday 29th February. To find out exactly what #eltchat is, click here. (Since this post is full of links which may change/move at a later date, …  […]

  24. Hi Sandy,

    My name is Sue Ann and I work for a company called Study Mode, Inc. We recently launched FlashcardExchange.com, which is a site that helps students quickly memorize historical information, languages, and anything else using online flashcards. I think FlashcardExchange.com could be very helpful to your students. Would you mind adding a link to our site on the page where you listed other similar resources (see link below)?

    Web tool recommendations – http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/web-tool-recommendations-eltchat-summary/

    Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Sue Ann Pien
    Outreach Manager – Study Mode, Inc.

  25. […] This is the summary of the second #eltchat on Wednesday 29th February. To find out exactly what #eltchat is, click here. (Since this post is full of links which may change/move at a later date, ple…  […]

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