How to...Teach English with Technology

Title: How to...Teach English with Technology
Authors: Gavin Dudeney & Nicky Hockly
Publisher: Pearson Longman
Reviewed by: Kaithe Greene
Review date: September 2007

The Creative ClassroomAnother winner from the Longman Pearson How to... stable – thanks Longman! This book is everything you would expect from winners of the 2007 British Council Innovation Awards for developers of new English language learning resources.

I loved this book, partly because it’s a great book, and partly because working in teaching centres with hi-tech classrooms as a seriously lo-tech teacher has been a challenging and not entirely pain free experience. Having the ICT co-ordinator packaged to a size I can carry around with me is a real boon! Written for anyone, teacher or teacher trainer, who works with classroom technology and wishes to get the most out of it in order to get the most out of the learners, this really is a very useful book. Like any good “how to” manual it not only bears repeated reading, but also serves as a reference book which can be dipped into as and when required.

I started with the last page because it houses the CD-ROM start and installation instructions, including options for MAC and Linux users and the stunningly sensible option of Run from CD – great if you don’t want to install it on your PC.

The CD, nestled comfortably in a plastic wallet inside the back cover, relates directly to each of the twelve chapters of the book. It includes some interesting commentary from a number of teachers from various parts of the world. I enjoyed listening to them and the tapescripts are available on screen or as a print version. Each chapter contains a webliography, which provided me with hours of entertainment whilst expanding my ICT understanding and knowledge, and hopefully my classroom ICT skills.

Working backwards through the book there’s a detailed index and an extremely useful glossary (for those of us who are still beginners with ICT lingo).

Then I switched to the front of the book and started learning more new lingo – CALL has been rechristened as TELL, apparently I’m neither a technophobe nor a technogeek, I’m definitely not a digital native, but could be considered a digital immigrant. I started to learn about the usefulness of keypals, blogs, wikis, podcasts, webquests and concordancers; and, most usefully, this chapter addressed all sorts of difficulties teachers might experience when starting out or trying to develop the use of technology in the EFL classroom.

The section on training your students to work efficiently and systematically on computers is equally valid for training teachers who might not be particularly well versed in this type of classroom methodology, or may be “lucky” enough to find themselves in a state-of-the-art classroom whilst not being a state-of-the-art user!

The following chapters deal with such topics as using word processors in the classroom; using websites, internet-based project work, reference tools, e-mail, and chat; using blogs, wikis and podcasts with learners; and, of course, using technology-based courseware. The section on interactive whiteboards is both informative and useful, as is the chapter entitled Producing electronic materials.

This book is full of interesting ideas for new and different ways of involving students using technology in the EFL classroom, and has left me feeling much more enthusiastic about the impending summer intensive courses than is usually the case! If your school has got, or is considering getting, some modern classroom technology I can’t recommend strongly enough that you persuade, or even tell, them to get a couple of copies of this book for the staffroom bookshelf. ESL Reviews & ArticlesKaithe Greene, teacher at Tunis British Council. Particular interests – anything that simultaneously enhances both the learning and the teaching experience; especially if it makes life easier too!