Sharmishtha/The Role of Digital Technology in the ELL Classroom/Scaffolding and Using L2 to Promote Language Learning

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I am interest in the topic of exploring the role of digital technology in supporting Kindergarten to Grade 8 English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom. I want to identify some of the benefits in using technology with ELLs that might ultimately lead to greater language acquisition skills. I want to look at different apps, technological tools and websites that can be used in the classroom to help assist the teacher and students during the language acquiring process.

ELLs & Technology

Possible Research Questions

1) How prevalent is digital technology in ELL classroom currently?

2) What are some ways digital technology help with language learning?

3) What is the benefit of using digital technology in an ELL classroom?

4) What are ways to use digital technology to help with ELL assessment and activities?

5) How can digital technologies in the ELL classroom be used as a tool for students to gain confidence and acquire language?

6) How do teachers in ELL classrooms negate or welcome digital technology?

7) How can digital technology in the ELL classroom extend learning past classroom walls and into homes and communities?

Importance and Relevance

I think that incorporating digital technology in the ELL classroom is important because I have always felt that it is missing. Teachers often worry that during the language acquisition phase, students might be overwhelmed if they had to also maneuver and learn a new digital technology tool, and thus, they avoid using and introducing it in the classroom. I believe that this is often the opposite, and students are already equipped with the tech savvy knowledge and can potentially use it in their language acquiring process as ELLs. As discussed in class, I think that using digital technologies can only help to propel learning, and in the context of ELLs, it will certainly offer them innovative approaches and multimodal alleys to acquire language. As well, readings have proved that students learn better with different multimodal approaches and how they are able to navigate these tools by themselves, so what limits the ELL from achieving the same? Language is no longer a gross barrier in the technology age of today, as students are already familiar with different interfaces and will easily discover how to learn new ones. It is important as a teacher to move away from the tradition rote learning methods often presented to ELLs and engage them in more sophisticated and multi-dimensional ways of language learning. I want to explore this as a future teacher, as I am especially interested in the FSL and ELL strands of education in the elementary level. I draw upon my experiences during placements and volunteer opportunities to reflect back on how ELLs, in particular, were never offered digital technology as a means to assist in their work. Many of the tools available on the market can easily be manipulated to allow ELLs to use their L2 alongside English (L2 is an abbreviation for second language, or a language that is not the mother tongue) in a variety of ways to record, practice, write, improve speech, or even connect with other members of the same L2 community. I hope to find ways in which ELLs benefit from digital technology in the classroom, as I will then be able to use it in my own practice as a teacher. I want to move away from simply having them leave the classroom to go to a resource room, but rather use their presence to elevate the class learning experience as a whole and use their L2 to create dual language learning opportunities. I wish to help ELLs see that their L2 is not a hindrance to their learning, but rather an asset.

ELL Helping Hand

Initial Research Pathways

Some research pathways I will take will include looking back on past class readings and seeing how in particular Week 3’s System Change: Transforming Learning in Ontario readings might inform and lead way into an ESL classroom. As well, I will look at my own volunteer and practicum experiences and reflect back on the ELLs present in those classrooms.

As well, the following two links offer more information on the topic and help to cement my own beliefs of increasing the presence of technology in ELL classrooms. [This resource section provides ideas for using technology with ELLs, activities for using multimedia tools, and bilingual tips for managing media at school and at home.] [This action research study investigated factors influencing TESOL teacher candidates’ use of technology in the English as a second language (ESL) classroom and the influence of computer technology for ELLs in grades K-12]

As well, I will also keep in mind the need to eliminate what Pauline Gibbon’s describes ‘a reductionist curriculum’ where ELLs are given completely alternative assignments. I believe that scaffolding is key to provide ELLs the needed support to equally participate in class activities and projects. As Gibbons states “All students need to be engaged with authentic and cognitively challenging learning tasks; it is the nature of the support – in response to student need – that is critical for success. In this sense, having ELLs in a classroom can be a catalyst for providing effective instructional strategies in literacy and language learning across the curriculum which benefits all students (Gibbons, 2002)

• Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: Teaching second language learners in the mainstream classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

As well, technology is a great tool for ELLs as it is easily accessible and is ‘on the go’. It works as beneficial for students as the primary source of authentic language experience occurs outside of classroom walls in extra-curricular activities or television shows or with interaction with friends. Other forms of research I will be seeking will pertain to ELLs and how they learn, the capacity for having digital technology in the classroom as an assistive tool for learning, and what different digital technologies offer specifically for ELLs. I’m interested in exploring how ELLs learn with technology and without it, and how ELLs themselves might be more engaged and successful with language acquisition with the help of certain digital technologies. In addition, I will also consider the role of the L2 in all these areas of research and see how it functions in parallel to digital technologies.

Media Tools

ScribJab – I will use this app as a template to show how digital technology serves to create dual language resources for students

Twine/iBook - I may use Twine or iBook to present my findings and information. It will be used as the medium to showcase all related information. The ability to create different lines of thought will be useful to display different ideologies. As well, the integration of sound, images, videos and text allows for an interactive experience.

Canva - I can use this website to create visually appealing infographics on topics. Instead of simply listing any of the information, I can present them in a visual poster format

LyricsTraining - A tool that can be used in ELL classroom to practice old fashioned dictation in a new and innovative way. Students learn spelling and engage with familiar songs they hear on radio or in movies.

VoiceThread - A tool used to create voiceovers and discussion audios. It focuses on communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking to enhance student learning.

Panwapa - An initiative that Sesame Workshop and the Merrill Lynch Foundation created to bring a global awareness curriculum to kids. The program aims to "foster the foundation for global citizenship and community activism in young children, ages 4 to 7." I can use this as a link to help bring L2 culture awareness into the classroom ... *website is definitely a great tool and reference point for young students, but may or may not work with my research focus and needs – I may or may not use it