Digital Literacy - bringing phone apps into the ESOL classroom | ELPNZ

Digital Literacy - bringing phone apps into the ESOL classroom

09 August 2016

Most learners bring their smartphones to class, so why not introduce them to English phone apps while they are there? This is the question that inspires English Language Partners Aoraki teacher, Bethany Marett.

She’s all fired up after returning from The CLESOL Conference held at the University of Waikato July 14-17.  “I came away with some fabulous ideas for incorporating technology into the classroom,” says Bethany. “In this day and age digital literacy is really important in teaching and learning English.

“By introducing learners to the right apps, students could also improve their English during the week at home. Plus using GPS virtual reality platforms like Google Cardboard could give migrants more confidence to go places within their own community.”

Bethany highly regarded CLESOL presenter Michelle Cowans, Curriculum Manager for the Certificate in Spoken and Written English, City East College, Sydney. Ms Cowans talked about how digital literacy is an essential skill in the 21st century. She said today there are apps for schools, immigration, government, medical services and people are expected to use them in daily communication.

A tech needs analysis Ms Cowans did of 68 respondents found that 83% of her adult students had a smartphone (46% of these students were over the age of 46). However 37% did not know how to download an app.

Bethany has been working part-time as an ELP teacher in Timaru for six months. She’s also completing her Bachelor of Teaching at Learning with Canterbury University so she can continue her ESOL teaching in a school environment.

“English language teachers are dedicated to helping people have a better life, particularly migrants and refugees,” says Bethany. “We’re quite humanitarian in that way.”

Bethany is used to being out of her comfort and cultural zone. She completed a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) then taught English in Cambodia in 2015. “Working overseas has given me a unique perspective and helps me identify with the learners I teach now.”

But Bethany says you don’t always need to leave the country to experience different cultures. “I feel really privileged to be working with such a good organisation, making a little difference. A lot of my friends go overseas to teach but you don’t have to leave the country to experience other cultures.”

English Language Partners New Zealand (ELPNZ) was commended for their work at CLESOL. Dame Susan Devoy spoke highly of the organisation and the great job we do in New Zealand communities.

Nicola Sutton Chief Executive Officer ELPNZ says it’s great to see a teacher like Bethany so inspired. “We have a wonderful range of teachers who work with us. They each bring different skills,” says Ms Sutton.

ELPNZ is implementing a new Information Technology Strategy which includes supporting teachers with digital literacy through the use of tablets in the classroom. We are also upgrading our internal technology to benefit our operations and learners.  

Want to teach ESOL with us? Contact our Human Resources Manager now.