International Educator - March/April 2013 - S8
PHOTO COURTESY OF WALEED BINSELIM
and then give them 15 minutes to go outside the classroom and take
pictures of those vocabulary words.”
She says it actually works best for more abstract words, such as
“enthusiastic,” where students have to think about expressing the
word and not just finding an object. “They collect the pictures, bring
them back to class, upload them to a computer, and write sentences
about their images.”
They also use the video recording functions of their phones. “We
use their video cameras to record speeches,” Elia says. “The students
have to evaluate themselves from the recordings. They used to use
video cameras, upload the recordings to a computer, and burn them
to CDs, which was a lot of work. Now, they just use their cell phones
International student Waleed Binselim from Saudi Arabia, on the left, gets
language learning tips from Sarah Elia, lecturer and event coordinator of
the Haggerty English Language Program at SUNY New Paltz.
to video their speeches and debates.”
Elia also uses other tech tools to teach. One of her favorites is
the online video.
supposed to be doing.” She makes the most of the phone’s stopwatch
and camera to teach languages quickly.
“TED talks are popular,” she says. “They offer listening and speaking at a higher level. We also access samples of academic speeches,
which offer really good content about American culture and thinking.”
And then there are websites. Elia is a fan of the online Kahn Acad-
she says. “And we use the cameras for lots of different activities. If
emy, where students can access online lessons and lectures on their
I’m teaching a lower group, I’ll introduce 15 new words to the class
own time. “It’s like having a private tutor,” she says. “You can go to
Learning With Dropbox, Google Docs, Quizlet, and More
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR | 2 0 13 L A N G UAG E S U P P L E M E N T
at Namdokmai teaches English and makes movies at home in
Thailand, and moved to the United States to study four years
ago. He’s enrolled in Japanese courses at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and says technology has played a big part in his
study of the language.
“They use technology to teach us to speak and write in Japanese,”
he says. “We used PowerPoint and videos on YouTube in some classes.
When I got to the upper-level classes and started learning business
Japanese, we started using it more to communicate.”
Content, he says, is taught online in some of his classes. “We have
to check the website and use it to do our homework,” he says. “We use
Quizlet online a lot too. Once a week, we use Google Docs.”
That, he says, changed the way he thought about online learning.
“The first time I used Google Docs, I did it with a bunch of people together,” he said. “There’s a lot you can see—you can share your screen
or show videos and talk about them at the same time they’re playing.
If you have a paper, you can share it with the whole class at the same
time. It’s really easy.”
His translation class made a lot of use of Facebook to post information on assignments and activities, and the class turned in assignments and collaborated on things via Dropbox.
“You have a folder and you can share with just one person or with
the class,” he explains. “You drop your Japanese work in that folder and
people can see it right away. They translate it and put it back in that folder and we can communicate about it right away. You correct your work
and put it back in the folder, and it notifies you when there’s a new folder
or new information for class in
there.” That, he says, has made his
learning faster than it’s been in
traditional paper-based courses.
His teachers also use video,
recording narrative and questions
and having students record their
answers in the same way. “If we
have an assignment or a reading
test, we record it and send it to our
professor,” he says. “We also use
audio recordings in the same way. Nat Namdokmai teaches English
It’s very helpful. It helps us learn in Thailand. He is currently a
faster,” he says. “In the old days, student at the University of
you had to look at tests on paper Wisconsin-Madison and has
learned English with various
and you didn’t know how to proforms of technology.
nounce all those words. You didn’t
get to practice those things like we do. It was like talking into an empty
room. Now, it’s having a conversation.”
“The main benefit is being able to check our work right online,” he
says. “Taking a language class online can be hard if you don’t meet a
real person. You can’t learn the language, I don’t think. But we meet online and share information and share things for our class. Assignments
are easier and faster—I drop it in my folder and know it’s there on
Dropbox. It’s corrected and returned right away. The communication
is faster and we’re learning faster.”
PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF NAT NAMDOKMAI
“In our listening and speaking classes, we use the timer or stopwatch on the phone to monitor the time and keep debates going,”