Thursday, March 15, 2012

IT for EAL and Learning Support

Although most of my time is spent with homeroom teachers in the primary school, I try to give support to specialists too.  Recently I've led a couple of staff meetings where we have shown the German, PE and Music teachers different Web 2.0 tools that they may find useful to use with their students. I do less with Learning Support and EAL teachers, but I've been thinking about how technology can really help students in these areas.

When I was last at the BETT Show in London, there was a special area dedicated to supporting students with special needs.  In the past I managed to buy a typing programme there for a student with only one arm.  Nowadays I don't think I'd be looking for such a programme, since there are a lot of voice recognition technologies available.  Technology can be a tool to augment sensory input or reduce distractions and it can provide support for cognitive processing or enhancing memory and recall.  For many children who need learning support, technology can empower them and increase their independence and confidence, and so allow them to be successful in mainstream classes.

Many students in international schools are learning English, however at the same time teachers in international schools know it's important to maintain the home language as this also contributes to a student's success in learning English.   Depending on the country, it may not be very easy to get materials in the child's home language, but often technology can provide access to culturally and linguistically appropriate stories, games, music and activities in a child's mother tongue.  Technology can also allow students to practice speaking, listening, writing and reading and support students in their self-expression.

Another way we have used technology recently is to allow student to communicate with people in different countries (and their home countries) through Skype.  We've also used Google Translate to have students write what they want to say in their own language and then see how it is written in English.  In the past I've also been able to record students talking and then have another student who speaks the same language listen to what the student has said and translate it for the teacher.  In some cases, with beginning EAL students, this is the only way that they can really show their understanding.

Therefore although I feel I don't give a lot of direct assistance to teachers in the EAL and Learning Support departments, I have seen that technology can be valuable in helping them to effectively support the students they teach.

No comments:

Post a Comment