Mobile technology is changing the face of education, and opening up new opportunities for both teachers and learners. In this post, I give 20 reasons why iPads in particular are becoming indispensable tools for English language learners across the world.
Students can study from interactive, content-rich, textbooks
- Teaching institutions (especially those where a large number of photocopies are made for students) can save a lot of paper
- Students can write reports with text, photos, and magazine-style rich formatting, thereby fully developing their multimodal communication skills
- Students can record themselves speaking, with video and audio, and then review and critically assess their own performances, encouraging noticing and consciousness raising
- Students can check the clarity of their pronunciation with Siri and the voice-to-text functionality provided by iOS.
- Students can both view and produce podcasts, and share their knowledge, experience, opinions, advice, and questions with other English learners all across the globe
- Students have instant access to the largest database of human knowledge ever assembled: the Internet
- Students can engage in extensive reading (ER) by directly accessing articles from Wikipedia, Simple Wikipedia, blogs, and specialist ER sites, among others
- Students have access to L1-L2 and L2-L2 dictionaries featuring text-to-speech pronunciation aids and word-in-context excerpts from native speaker corpuses
- A variety of social networking experiences, including those provided by blogging, microblogging, and podcasting platforms, could be integrated into the syllabus, allowing students to fully exploit the communicative potential of Internet-connected iDevices
- Students will be more fully prepared for the post-PC era
- With cloud technologies such as iCloud, Google Drive, and DropBox, students can access their documents from their own iDevices or PCs and continue working on them from outside the classroom
- Students can take advantage of the rapidly increasing number of ESL-focused games and utilities in the App Store
- iOS’s “kiosk” mode can limit iPads to one particular learning app at a time
- Individual students can re-listen or re-watch media as many times as they like in order to ensure comprehension, rather than the single source of audio or video being controlled by the teacher
- With AirPlay, students can wirelessly project their iPad screens and share their work with the teacher or the whole class
- Every piece of work students produce, whether textual, visual, or aural, is editable and re-editable, allowing sequential drafting and re-drafting, a true reflection of how the language learning process works in the brain
- New vocabulary items can be concept-checked with a quick search of Google Images
- Students can take full advantage of vocabulary learning applications, such as Anki and Quizlet
- No more fuzzy black-and-white photocopies!
Of course, there are some things still lacking on the iPad which would be useful in the classroom environment. One feature that springs to mind is the ability of the teacher to remotely monitor and control each student’s iPad from his or her own device. Another is the ability to digitally distribute learning materials without having to go through Apple’s iBooks or Apps stores. However, there are, as outlined above, numberous advantages to every student having their own iPad in the classroom. The fact that many institutions are moving toward this teaching model is an exciting prospect for teachers and learners alike.