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It is common knowledge that teaching English in 21st century must involve developing a range of soft skills, one of which is digital literacy. It means that learners should be able to use technology for the purposes of communicating, create and share online content, and stay up to date with media. Why is it so important to integrate these skills in ESL classes?
It’s hard to imagine our life without the Internet, where everything — work, studying, shopping, etc. — can be done online. Developing digital literacy not only opens a number of opportunities for the learners to improve English outside the classroom, but it can also help them to feel more confident in the online environment on a daily basis.
There are plenty of ways digital literacy can be included in the learning process. Below you will see some ideas.
It is no secret that in recent years online education has become more widespread all over the world. Having English lessons on various online platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams, is already giving learners a chance to get to grips with how online meetings work.
What online platform do you use for English lessons?
Moreover, they can also get experience working with:
Even if the learners are tech-savvy, they might discover new features or ways to make use of familiar platforms.
Whether the class takes place online or offline, it is always possible to keep in touch with the students through social media. Google Classroom is a useful tool to do so — it’s free, easily accessible (it only requires an email address), and it has several features which would make online communication between the teacher and students very efficient. It enables you to post text messages, leave comments, share files, images, and links, and even assign online assignments.
There’s also an option of creating an online group on messenger. Whatsapp, Viber, or Telegram are all good for that, but my personal favourite is Telegram due to its interface and fun stickers :)
Now, what can we use these groups for? While Google Classroom is usually used for sharing information and materials, messengers can be a place for informal communication between students. They can also contact the teacher in case of an emergency when the answer is required immediately, which is especially important in online education.
I also encourage my students to share useful materials they find online and help each other when they have questions. This way the students learn about various messenger functions and use online tools to get additional practice in English — seems like a win-win!
What is your favorite messenger for online student groups?
Even if you teach face-to-face, digital literacy can be taught via various media. Even the most mundane actions matter: when your students use their smartphones to take a picture of the whiteboard with new information, or when you use a projector to show them a presentation or a video, it all develops digital skills in one way or another.
But to improve them even more, we can diversify lessons with:
Technology, being part and parcel of today’s world, can significantly modernise English lessons. Our learners may benefit a lot from digital literacy in other spheres of life too, but even we as teachers can acquire some practical skills from using technology in our lessons!
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