fact a laptop is a requirement for many college and university courses. If you are teaching in an environment where the students are accustomed to using computers, then your approach to their use will be different from that of teachers who are introducing computers as a new tool for learning. This article assumes that computers are readily available. It lists the advantages of a classroom computer, suggests a method for using it to teach written English, and discusses the possible benefits of that type of assignment.
The Advantages of a Classroom Computer for Teaching ESL Language Writing Skills.
– your classroom gains credibility for providing an up-to-date environment
– the students respect your knowledge of its use
– students may learn a new aspect of its use, especially if computer games are their usual type of program
– it helps students with their spelling and grammar
– it promotes creativity by making the mechanics of writing easier and faster
– it holds the students attention
– it allows two, three or four students to work together
These are a very successful way of teaching written and oral language. Most programs provide the role-plays for the students to practice, but the computer provides incentives and programs that help the students to write their own conversations, basing them on topics that are of interest to them.
In preparation for their work at the computer the students will need to work in a group of three or four to decide the topic of their role-play, the characters, roles that each of them will take and a brief outline of what they will say. Next they will work together to identify the vocabulary they need. They will likely need a dictionary that supplies their own language and English. Their ability to write their conversation in correct English sentences will vary according to the approach taken in their previous courses. If they have learned to speak in sentences then the word-order won’t be a problem. This is an area where a group of students can help each other.
When they have completed the draft copy of their role-play and the teacher has checked it, they will be ready to use the computer to type it and record it. Having them demonstrate it for others can lead to interesting group discussions.
English second language students living in an environment where computers are readily available may have been using programs that provide games or others that don’t require written language. They may be sending e-mails but these would likely be in their first language. If they aren’t comfortable with written English it’s unlikely that they are familiar with the advantages of a program designed for writing. The role-play assignment requiring them to use such a program could be an important step in their written language development.
Learning to speak English while working with a group helps to provide them with the skills for working together that many jobs require. The planning together in English provides essential practice in conversation.
This article has stressed the advantages of a classroom computer. It outlines one type of assignment that gives the students control over the content of their work. It suggests a method that allows for computer sharing. The activity provides for plenty of discussion in small groups and teaches group cooperation. Finally it leads them into an aspect of computer programs that can help them with their written English.