My first encounter with computers was quite a few years ago. I bought a computer but had absolutely no idea how to use it. So I enrolled on a course that would teach me the basics. I went away and could happily use my brand new computer (which is now a dinosaur) to write letters and create spread sheets.
Then I learned about something called “The Internet”. I bought a subscription and got online. However I had no idea how to find information in this vast labyrinth. A kind friend explained how search engines worked…and that was it! I was completely hooked. It was great to see the colours on the screen change, to be able to read about things that would have meant spending hours in the library browsing tonnes of books. Now at the click of a button, all the information I could ever dream of was there.
My life changed. I could look things up and this saved so much research time. However, I kept thinking to myself: something’s missing. There must be more to this internet than just searching for information. I started to ask questions such as: How can I use the internet to make my job (as an English Language Teacher) easier? Downloading a text meant that the material I took to class was more up-to-date than the articles found in the course books in the school’s resource room. But again, how could I take the internet (and computers) into the classroom to facilitate learning?
I found some great books that I could read to get started with this. And again, the vast world of knowledge that is the internet itself offered quite a few tips. I subscribed to online newsletters, got involved in teacher forums, created forums for my students to exchange ideas, created web quests and today the sky’s the limit.
Being on the major social networking sites means that I am always updated with the latest developments (before anything goes to print), and can communicate with people and learners from all around the globe.
Now we are hearing of blended learning and online learning, which are quite new to the majority of language teachers, but I know that in just a few years, these teaching models will be the order of the day. Although face-to-face tuition is still regarded very highly on my list (the human contact cannot be replaced), contact between trainers and learners via the internet comes a very close second.
Let’s embrace this new technology and use it to our advantage – it means that we can make more out of our day, by fitting in a language lesson from the comfort of our home or office. It’s nice to keep up the learning pace even when we may not have time to go on a language holiday.