The English language learner is presently on the threshhold of technology. He lives in an age where rapid developments are being made. Unless the English language learner keeps abreast of the trends in technologies, he will be hopelessly out of date.
In my thesis, I propose to find answers an develop strategies for the following questions
- How can new technologies foster the love of writing for students who are learning the English language?
- What can technology do in the English language learning classroom?
- How can the integration of technology into the English language classroom narrow the digital divide between the information age haves and have-nots?
Many of the language learners, especially in the Graduate level do not have the requisite experiences and opportunities to engage with technologies. This is more true for the English language learners who turn out to be the least empowered when it comes to gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing digitized information.
Technologies can engender student-centered learning. Students need to be at the centre and engage in active learning on their own. With technological advancement, students can learn to be more independent and engaged learners. Many of the English language learners have very little knowledge of the topics to be discussed. They were led into the topics carefully by small increments, and at the end of the day, they left saying they felt confident to try the four Web 2.0 technologies which had been presented to them."
In order to arrive at answers for these I propose to the following.
Participants sampled a variety of student-created digital compositions and engaged in discussions about the impact of technology and Web 2.0 (a common term for Internet technologies that allow users to create their own online content) on teaching English language learners.
They even created their own digital stories, podcasts, and blog comments.
Participants created their first technology projects with a collaborative response to the question: "For English Language Learners, technology can ..." after a brief brainstorm and discussion. They used handheld digital voice recorders to record their responses, which included such possibilities as: enhancing multimodal learning, allowing English language learners to feel less marginalized, and serving as a bridge to English.
Every single piece of this work puts the student at the center.
Attendees sampled four technologies—digital storytelling, blogging, podcasting, and Google Docs—and learned how NWP teacher consultants use these technologies in real classrooms.
Participants viewed a digital story made by an international student from Korea who had suffered the trauma of seeing Americans tread on her floor in outdoor shoes. They saw how Google Docs could be used for peer revision, a presentation by Joe Bellino and Ailish Zompa, teacher-consultants and ELL teachers from the Maryland Writing Project. Lynn Jacobs, a teacher-consultant with the Northern California Writing Project, introduced participants to student blogs. And Robert Rivera-Amezola shared student-made podcasts from his elementary school classroom.
After lunch, the participants chose two of the following activities:
- Creating additional podcasts
- Experimenting with their own Google Docs documents
- Contributing to a blog
- Creating a digital story beginning with the words, "I am a teacher of the digital age."
- Digital Storytelling Brings New Dimensions to Reading, Writing, and More
The Learner as a Citizen of the Digital Age
At the end of the day, attendees had a chance to revisit the key question: What can technology do for English language learners? While the discussion expanded from the morning, the main point of the afternoon was simple: it isn't so much what technology can do for classroom instruction; what is central is what it can do for the learner as a citizen of the digital age.
As Paul Oh, a program associate for the National Writing Project and the keynote speaker, said, One participant even commented that she started the day knowing nothing about such odd sounding terms as "Twitter" and "blog," but she left, well, all in a twitter.