Home / The Role of Technology in TEFL: Enhancing Language Learning

Technology is becoming an increasing presence in our lives. From education communication, it’s almost unavoidable! While there may be some sceptics about the role technology plays in our day-to-day interactions, it can’t be denied that it also brings many advantages. TEFL Teachers have already been using technology for a while, but there is still much to learn!

The use of technology in education has become more and more popular over recent years. We can use technology in every class, from online learning to simple additions such as interactive classroom boards. It can strengthen our lessons and engage our students. You might feel that technology is only used in online classes, but it’s just as essential to our face-to-face lessons, too!

Online learning

I was thinking about the obvious here! Online learning has exploded in recent years, with the pandemic leading to a boom in the use of technology for learning languages. This has led to an increase in ESL companies that hire teachers to deliver lessons to children and adults and various platforms. Most people used Zoom during the pandemic at some point (for classes, meetings or even a quiz!), but now many more learning platforms can be utilised – Teams, Google Meet and Slack are just a few emerging meeting platforms!

If you’re an online English teacher, you have many tools to use to start teaching online. Finding a platform you and the students are comfortable with is essential. It would be best if you considered factors such as pricing, number of participants allowed and time limits to find the best one for you. You can also access many tools to make your website for your teaching services with online booking and payment options, making your organisation go even more smoothly.

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Videos and animation 

Do you remember being at school and getting excited when it was movie day? Well, times haven’t changed that much! Students, especially young learners and teenagers, still enjoy watching videos. Videos can play an essential role in the TEFL classroom. By this, we don’t mean you should watch a video for the whole class; this isn’t productive! Videos can be utilised as a tool for learning; you need to know how to use them!

Many tools now allow teachers to edit existing videos and add interactive questions! Remember, when we use a video, text or audio in the classroom, students and teachers need to use them with purpose – there has to be a task involved to make it meaningful. Useful websites to do this include EDpuzzle, Screencastify and Wevideo. You can add comprehension and debate questions or get the students to anticipate what comes next in the story. The possibilities are endless!

Collaborative tools

Getting students to work together and discuss tasks in English is essential for their learning. Numerous tools can now help with this in the classroom, both traditionally and virtually. You want your students to speak English as much as possible, but sometimes, they don’t want to sit and answer questions. Thinking of new ways to get them involved and working together is good! 

Padlet is a great collaborative platform to use in the classroom. Learners can post their ideas and answers individually or in groups, and the teacher (and the class) can view them on the screen. You can see who posts what, add pictures and audio files, and comment on other posts. Encouraging the students to comment on their classmates’ work is a fun way to use peer feedback in your lessons!

Collaborative tools don’t have to be too complex, so don’t worry if you’re not the most tech-savvy teacher! Something as simple as Google documents can be used. These are live documents where the changes are updated and viewed as they happen. Therefore, students can work together, and the teacher can view their work quickly. You don’t need to worry about students not saving their work or “forgetting” to email you anything!

Social Media

Google Docs also allows teachers to leave feedback and corrections for their students. They need one link to access the document, and the teacher can add these corrections as the classes go on, with the students having them all in one convenient place. The teacher doesn’t need to send them after every lesson; they use the same link!

We can’t discard the use of social media-style platforms for collaboration. Most people already use at least one social media network, so many students are familiar with these platforms. It’s essential that the teacher can control any activity or task using social media, especially if the students are younger. You might get into trouble with your bosses or their parents if you don’t carry out this activity correctly!

You don’t have to use Facebook, Instagram, etc., in the classroom, which can lead to student privacy issues. It’s recommended that you don’t encourage young learners to use these. There are education-friendly platforms available! Seesaw and Edmondo are popular options – their usage is limited to the classroom, and parents can also access the work. 

AI: Artificial intelligence

Discussing technology in the classroom (or anywhere) without mentioning AI is impossible. While this has been around for a while, 2023 saw a boom in its use with the public access to AI platforms such as Chatgpt. Many of us have been questioning ways to use AI in our teaching.

Remember that while technology can enhance the experience of our students, we can also aim to use it to improve our teaching preparation and processes. AI can be a valuable tool for a teacher to save time. Teachers often feel that they spend a lot of time planning. AI can provide detailed lesson plans on topics, interesting conversation questions and even tongue twisters for your students to practice with!

AI can certainly be beneficial, but you must check all content you use to ensure it makes sense, is relevant and appropriate for your class and learners. It’s not an excuse to cut back on planning but can be used to make more efficient use of your time. It’s not a replacement for a teacher and shouldn’t be seen as so! Whilst Chatgpt is very efficient, it’s imperfect and shouldn’t be left to do everything!

Authentic materials 

With access to a world of media, teachers can find it easier than ever to access authentic materials for their learners. You can access newspaper articles from any English-speaking country, literature extracts and news audio for listening exercises. YouTube is a handy resource for teachers!

 Always ensure the materials are appropriate for your learners regarding language and topic. Besides that, you can access a wide range to use in your classroom! You can also assign students to listen, watch or read something for homework before the next class.

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This is a word that is being used more and more now. Gamification refers to incorporating game elements into the classroom. This will make your lessons more engaging for young learners and adolescents. However, we can’t pretend that adults don’t also enjoy some competition from time to time!

This idea has been around for a long time. Whether using board games or quizzes in the classroom, it’s something that TEFL has always aspired to include in many countries. However, with the development of technology, even more options and resources are available for teachers to do this.

Kahoot! and Quizzizz are fantastic apps to use in the classroom. Teachers can create quizzes and activities based on a topic, and then the students connect and play the quiz. They can do this individually or in teams. The only thing to consider is that they need to use their phones to do so, so it’s up to the teacher to check if there is a policy regarding this in their place of work. Students love the competition and learn at the same time!

Quizlet is a beneficial learning and revision tool for vocabulary. Teachers (or students if you set it as a task) can create flashcards with vocabulary topics, and students can play different games to practise this vocabulary. This can be done in class or as a homework task! Quizlet is very interactive and great for memorisation. If your students need to improve their vocabulary, Quizlet could be the key!

In Conclusion

A lot of classrooms have interactive boards in the school now. Students love to get involved and use these too! It can be a way to play games in teams and get your students moving by coming up to the board in the classroom.

If you’re not the best at technology, plenty of more straightforward options can be used in the classroom to incorporate technology into your lessons. It’s unlikely that you can avoid this in most teaching contexts, so learning different tools you might want to use would also be good. 

Technology can enhance language learning, giving students a more engaging and comprehensive experience. This is likely to be very different to the language experience they might have had in school, so it will introduce a new way of learning to your students, one which they will likely embrace and one that will improve their English language learning!

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