Guest piece- Start using technology in your classes, or just go ahead and retire!

by Karenne Sylvester of Kalinago English:

escalator“When I was about 14, we went on vacation to the US. We were there to do some very serious shopping and my mother had a list of clothes, shoes and stuff for school – things we had little to no access to in Antigua.

When we arrived at the mall in Miami, Mom excitedly trailed me behind her as we moved from shop to shop.

This was heaps of fun until we had to travel one floor up. She led me to the most monstrous of machines, a staircase that moved!

Coming from the Caribbean where you’d be hard-pushed to find a set of stairs within a shop, let alone a series of endless stores stacked on top of each other, the grinding teeth of this metal beast stopped me dead in my tracks.

My mother tried to encourage me, even possibly tried to bully me into getting on to the next floor but I was having none of it. There was absolutely no way I was going to risk my life and limb on some dumb machine.

Auntie Jacqui grabbed my hand and took me to a nearby stand for an ice-cream and my mother went on up alone.

The end of the story is that I got sneakers I didn’t like and a pair of fluorescent green socks.

I kid you not.

ELT teachers who are simply too chicken to try out some of the new media and technology tricks in their classrooms while the Digital Natives progressively enter the market face the same fate as I did back then.

A lot of them are whining about whether or not it’s good teaching practice or just flash and dash.

However while they continue to be afraid, they’re missing out on what’s on the other side and in the end, consoling themselves with friends who are equal Luddites, will find themselves replaced by the those who can.

Are you one of these people?

Or do you want to move on, get up to the next level?

The first thing you have to do is to stop thinking that you need to do all of “it” now, right off the bat.

Start off with baby steps, making a commitment to learn a new skill or process once every quarter. You can talk to your students, discuss your own learning process in this area and get them to help you.

Trust me, they inevitably know more than you do and will get a kick out of being your teacher.

shoesA handful of techie-tips:
(Important! Learn each skill one by one to avoid feeling overwhelmed – bookmark this page and come back after each mastery or simply look at them all and choose the one(s) that feel most practical to you and your teaching style).

Also, remember, we were all once where you are now.


escalatorBuy books on teaching with technology by:
Pete Sharma
(the teacher-trainer who wrote the book that got me to face the escalator of teaching with technology)
The Internet and Business English
Blended Learning

Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly
How to teach with technology (with CD)

Read more tips on teaching with technology:

Get trained by video
Russell Stannard easy videos on a number of different applications as mentioned above.
Commoncraftshow: very simply explained, cartoon-style. Excellent work.

Best of luck and see you around in the web!

This entry was posted in Technology, TEFL, TEFL blogs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Guest piece- Start using technology in your classes, or just go ahead and retire!

  1. Alex Case says:

    That audacity thing sounds really good. It’s just what you need to stand up in front of a class of students with no qualifications or experience and expect them to pay you money just because you are a native speaker.

    That piece of software called audacity sounds pretty good as well.

    Boom boom! Thank you ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been a great audience

    Seriously though, does look very useful.

  2. Alex Case says:

    Someone just tried to get me to write a post on this upcoming Second Life teaching conference thingy, but decided to put it in here instead. “Second life” is a euphemism for middle age, yer? Might be interested then…

  3. Jason West says:

    Nice one Karenne! Great info…you’re absolutely right….but then I was converted some time ago.

    I like your suggestion to do it a bit at a time and for some people the number of different applications they think they are going to need to use (the ‘tool kit’ I call it).

    For those of a technophobic disposition who want to reach some potential customers quickly have just launched a teaching section. They have 400,000 active users a very large number looking to learn English and it is all carefully explained how to get going. They will take 15% off the top but to a) get some paying students quickly and b) find your feet using Skype to teach it is not a bad way to start. They handle the ‘partner/teacher’ descriptive conundrum that so perplexed some commentators about my venture with the Guardian very well. Being a qualified and experienced teacher gives you greater earning power online, not the other way around. Or you can register on for free and use their virtual classroom and schedule classes and take payment…the world, as one man is due to say in Washington today, is changing.

  4. Karenne Sylvester says:

    Hey Alex,

    Yes Audacity ROCKS!

    I have had super results – at first the students say things like “oh, I hate my voice” then they er, come back to class with stories about how they played the CD for their spouses and children and how they feel like radio stars.

    Watch out you’ll get addicted and will be scrounging around the web for background noises and may start dreaming of making your own (class) podcasts.

    Seriously, though, also is a very excellent tool for anyone preparing business students for presentations. You can record several versions of their speech – concentrate on specific pronunciation issues, do yourself versus others, etc.

    You can also use audacity to slow down hard-to-understand authentic material…etc, etc, the list goes on.

    Russell Standard and Nik Peachey have both done videos on this topic – though I just learned the steps from random videos on youtube.

    Audacity has a good wiki providing user-defined instructions.

    Like I said, it ROCKS! (which is a phrase not from my generation I guess but their’s…, I too am pushing the 4…0)

  5. Inam says:

    Lots of thanks for this piece of invaluable information.
    As teachers, we do need such software programmes in the process of teaching.


  6. Benbrahim says:

    Thanks a lot for the information and the trouble to collect and present all the tools for ease of consultation trial and hopefully subsequent adoption.
    I am relatively new to huge media potential in teaching (a Moroccan teacher of English since 1993) .I personally think the media generation is a fact. Teachers have always been part of the learning media(though the digital sway has backgrounded their role ),so unless they adopt the new facilities they will remain out dated and unable to reach their students better . Understanding NTIC and mastering the new media will certainly help teachers maintain authoritative and facilitating impact on students.It will bridge the gap between teaching and students’ real word by touching upon common sense and real life experience. Technology is well established as a daily need and use,so why not be practical and take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves.
    Thank you once more.
    Keep clicking

  7. Alex Case says:

    Great topical prepositions lesson you’ve got there:

    Never thought about making prepositions topical before.It must be possible to do something similar where students have to choose the prepositions from both meaning and grammar, or guess/ remember the missing time clause from the preposition clue

  8. Alex Case says:

    btw, the next one is called “Turning Teachers into RockStars”, which is at least a very good title

  9. Bob Mudford says:

    Here are some ideas about using the web to create a topical class.


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