While doing some research on the practical use of ICTs in primary school I found an article that seemed trustworthy to me. The authors discuss the multidimensional level of learning a new language.
They propose that most teachers do not use the new technologies appropriately. According to this article, the free online resources given to ESL teachers are rather old and can possibly lead the students to boredom. The good softwares available are unfortunately expensive therefore the authors do not recommend their use. Moreover, they say that such software work on a superficial level and should be used with moderation by teachers.
Instead, teachers working at an elementary level should focus on pronunciation and spelling. Students can listen and repeat afterwards given them the satisfaction of knowing almost instantly if they got the word right or not. The authors suggest that in doing so, students will tend to practice longer as they have some control over the situation. By controlling the mouse, it gives them some sense of control as they are not so controlled by the teacher. Furthermore, many of these websites offer an attractive display which makes learning more fun and feeling like a game.
After I read this article, I started looking for websites that had the features the article said we should aim for. Amongst the websites that had all the elements an ESL teacher need for a proper lesson, one really stood out for me. The English media lab website has all the elements the article promotes.
First its display is interactive. I think students could navigate easily on that website. In my opinion this website is totally suitable for students in an elementary school setting.
Second, it features some pronunciation exercises for students to practice on their own each will help them monitor their learning, also it has spelling exercises based on diphthongs and grammar exercises.
Again, this website features elements that according to the MELS program teachers should look for. The activity on pronunciation, if done in collaboratively, could related to the competency 1 and 2 of the MELS program. It would, indeed involve both the oral interaction between teammates and the use of interactive software to enrich and consolidate their learning.
This resource I will DEFINITELY use it in my practicum. Recently, a group of fourth graders just finished a unit on the rooms and the furnitures of the house. Surprisingly, this website has an activity based on that same unit! Next class I will propose to my teacher to do a classroom activity based on the templates given on that website.
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