English as an additional language learners are an increasingly significant part of our classrooms. So too, of course, is technology.  

The question then is how can the two be combined to ensure effective practice is with technology is delivered? How can the tools be selected to develop strategies for EAL pupils?

The reality is that effective practice looks the same with and without technology - it’s focused on sound pedagogy, and clear outcomes for learners. Tools and technology should be there to augment good teaching, create methods for deepening learning and understanding and be able to scaffold and support learners right where and when they need it.

For effective practice, technology took kits should be selected carefully, because in the case of EAL students, these tools need to be available right in the heart of learning. They should embrace all subjects and be available across every platform. Why? Because pupils should to be supported whenever, wherever and however they are learning. 

In choosing effective technology tools upon which to build good practice for EAL pupils, there are four key areas to consider. First, ensure the tool helps with language in context. Simple support tools like dictionaries, and even more so picture dictionaries as in Read&Write, give support instantly and deliver context. Second, technology should provide independence. To support EAL pupils a stress-free environment needs to be created for learning. Tools that are there and can be used when needed help provide this. In the case of Read&Write, there is a simple toolbar that a pupil can use at anytime with freedom to select what helps them most - creating a personalised tool just for their needs. Third, consider tools that have inbuilt translation facilities - many of these are in built to devices and web services. Whilst not ‘bulletproof’, used with care, they provide a valuable help mechanism that builds vocabulary and context. Fourth, ensure the technology at its heart supports building vocabulary.

Taking these four considerations, the best choice of tools can be selected which should naturally then be able to underpin effective practice. Simple things like spell check and prediction while writing shouldn’t be underestimated. Text to speech in particular helps students read and understand above their reading level - whilst also improving confidence, endurance and pronunciation. 

Take something like word clouds from wordle.net - a simple tool, but powerful and effective for EAL pupils. Use it to create vocabulary references ahead of a piece of work; have pupils use it to analyse their own written work; use it for revision or even to draw opinions on genre and style of written work. Simple yet effective.

Use of podcasts, recordings or providing oral feedback is an effective way to easily integrate audio into t&l. Youtube is an incredible resource for video material to stimulate discussion around understanding, build vocabulary and create opportunities for writing stimulae. 

Once these basics are understood, it becomes easier to build on these concepts and approaches to use technology even further. If you’re using video, try something like Edpuzzle or Videonot.es to stretch activities and deepen engagement and thinking. Consider iMovie or Wevideo to build creativity on top of simple writing frames.   

Effective practice with technology is the same for EAL pupils as for any other pupil with the right tools that support those specific areas of language development.

So, where do you begin? As an educator, follow the ‘BASIC’ guide: Build Independance. Allow Freedom. Start small. Identify the tech. Create Opportunity. From there you’ll see opportunities for technology, as will your pupils.

Technology should be there to enable, encourage, scaffold and support every learner. Chosen carefully and with a clear view on pupil outcomes, effective practice should be evident in the pupils' progression. 

Give it a start with Read&Write - one toolbar, supporting EAL pupils. It’s free for teachers, so you’ve no excuse not to get started today and on your way to effective practice with technology!

This article was originally published via the Texthelp Blog https://www.texthelp.com/en-us/company/education-blog/