Mobile phone pix

In the bar: "He was cutting a pineapple"

Here's one that came from the session on our CELTA course, July 24. I sent six of you out with your camera-equipped mobile phones to take pictures of people doing things. My instructions were to ensure that you asked politely for permission to take the photo, and thank the person for their assistance.

My assumptions were that you were teens; that you had such technology in your pockets; that we had been doing either the present or the past progressive; and that we had a class blog on which we could afterwards post the pictures with an appropriate caption (in the example, "He was cutting a pineapple…").

The point of the exercise was to raise the question of how much language would be learnt and/or practised and/or used relative to the amount of time invested in the activity. What is the return on investment, in other words, a question I would always ask myself with technology.

This isn't an idea that I've actually tried out with language learners, but I think I would: when are teens — or adults — more likely to learn: "doing" the language via a photocopied exercise or doing an activity in a way that is actually significant to them (and fun!)?

Word collages

Life: a collage…

In the Spanish Department here at IH Barcelona we have a blog project "Las palabras más bellas", in which students each write a post on what they consider the "loveliest" word.

A colleague, Susana Ortiz, got her learners to produce collages to accompany their words. She took a pile of magazines, scissors and glue into class, and had a fun 15-minute activity which also produced a surprising amount of language ("Can you lend me the scissors?", "Has anyone got a picture of a flower?" etc).

For the blog, the students used a digital camera to photograph their collages (with more language practice discussing how best to take the pictures…)

It was fun, it produced a lot of language practice, it had a neat end product and made only minimal, non-intrusive use of technology

I'd suggest that is how we should use technology in our classrooms.