Easy, fun, meaningful tasks with technology

Easy, fun, meaningful…

Welcome to those of you who came to my talk on Easy, fun, meaningful activities with technology at the IH Barcelona ELT Conference today…

The tasks I proposed assumed that at least one, preferably more digital cameras (or mobile phones, or webcams…) were available to your learners, either at school and/or at home. Below, how I defined "easy", "fun" and "meaningful" and, although the tasks suggested involved cameras, I think the same criteria apply to any other technology you might be considering using in the language classroom.

Easy…
The "ease" is particularly the easy and speed of set up — and the time involved, before and after class. You don't want to be editing images, for example, afterwards — though, as I suggested in my talk, your learners could be doing that (and I suggested using Picnik).

Having no programs to instal can be important in a school: can you, as a teacher, actually instal programs on your school's network? Probably not.

As much as anything, you want to limit the time you the teacher have to spend on the technology; what you want is a huge return-on-investment, i.e. for the amount of pre- and post-class time you invest, your language learners in- or post-class get a huge return in terms of the language they practise and learn.

Fun…
In my classroom experience, what is creative is fun; and because it's creative and fun it's enjoyable; and if what is created is also shared with other learners, it's motivating and thus more fun. If it is motivating, if learners want to do things, and (provided you ensure that they speak in English doing well-designed tasks maximising interaction) it's also and most importantly, successful in terms of language learning. They learn more, in other words.

And then they are more motivated, and learn more, and have more fun… It's a cycle of success — and of enjoyment.

Meaningful…
In my talk, I contrasted photographs taken by learners with cloze tests [define]… The picture that my learner has taken (not stolen from Google-is-Evil, note) matters; it's an end-product that you can share and care about.

When did the answers to a cloze test ever really matter to a learner (unless it was on an exam)? When did a learner ever really feel truly proud of a completed cloze test…?

I've been having my learners complete cloze tests for nearly thirty years and I've never, ever, seen a learner enjoy one.

But most importantly…

I've highlighted in my slide (above) how I'm suggesting using technology: to create and share end-products. But that's merely how I'm suggesting using it…

What really matters in language classrooms is that lots of language learning takes place.

That's what is important, the learning, not the technology. The technology is merely the tool that affords opportunities for language learning to occur…

Introduction | Task 1 | Task 2 | Task 3

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2 Comments

  1. Quite a lot of the people who came to the workshop were teaching young learners.

    Here's a couple more fun ideas that I think they'd like…

  2. And here's another useful link for anyone interested in photography in any way, either for class or as a hobby: DPS, which is a great place to go to learn about the subject.

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