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How Do Students Feel About Using Computers To Help Learn English?

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As regular readers know, I fairly regularly try-out different instructional strategies with my students that also include surveys and assessments in order to help analyze what has worked and what hasn’t been particularly successful. These experiments sometimes include technology.  I just tabulated the results of a mid-year survey Katie Hull (an exceptionally gifted teacher and colleague) and I had our two Intermediate English classes complete about their feelings about the two-times each week we bring them to the computer lab, and thought I’d share the results here.

Before (or after) you read them, though, you might also be interested in the results from assessments last year, which also helped informed what we did during this present school year:

Results From My Year-Long U.S. History Tech Experiment is where I shared the assessment results and my reflections from teaching two U.S. History classes — one entirely in the computer lab and one in my classroom with my typical curriculum.

Results From Student Evaluation Of My Class And Me (Part Two)

Now, getting back to this week — here’s a copy of the survey students completed.

KEY RESULTS:

ACTIVITIES STUDENTS LIKED BEST AND THAT THEY FELT HELPED THEM LEARN ENGLISH THE MOST:

Students ranked two sites and activities the highest both for what they most liked to do, and what they thought helped them learn English most:

Students love English Central, which was the number-one ranking new web tool on The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students — 2009 list. It’s a free video site for English Language Learners, lets users listen to parts of the video, then lets them repeat what the characters says and compares it to the original. You get graded on how well you do.

They also enjoy playing English games. Two popular ones are from the BBC (Mia Cadaver’s Tombstone Timeout and Gut Instinct) that allow us to immediately create “virtual private rooms” where our students compete against each other. After every question is answered, the screen flashes the changing rankings of each student.

The next highest ranked activities were (in this order):

Preparing for the California High School Exit Exam. The California Community Colleges have developed a phenomenal website to specifically help English Language Learners prepare for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), the test that all students have to pass in order to receive a high school diploma.  It’s interactive with image, text, and audio support, and is very accessible to Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners.

Doing writing — either writing answers to questions on our classroom blog, responding to other students’ work, or doing some of the practice writing activities we have posted there.

Using U.S.A Learns, an exceptional English Language Learner site designed for student self-access.

SHOULD THE TWO CLASSES GO TO THE LAB TOGETHER OR AT SEPARATE TIMES?

Clearly, both classes preferred going at the same time.  The primary reason was that “friends help me.”  This response reinforces my belief that technology in learning is most effective when it’s used to develop and deepen face-to-face relationships.

AMOUNT OF TIME IN COMPUTER LAB:

Many felt going to the Lab twice-a-week was “just right,” but just a slightly smaller number felt like it was not often enough.  This result makes me wonder if we should consider going three times each week.

INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME:

I was pretty surprised to learn that over two-thirds of our students have Internet access at home.  That’s a far greater percentage than in my previous classes.  The vast majority of those with access at home said they would be interested in getting “extra credit” by using their computer to help them learn English at home.  We need to figure out the best way to capitalize on this interest.

OTHER THINGS STUDENTS WANT TO DO AT THE LAB:

Two primary activities were mentioned in response to this question — students want to have their own blogs and want to make videos.  They actually do each have their own Posterous blogs now, but we haven’t used them much.  Instead, we’ve had most student writing on the Edublogs classroom blog.  So we need to look at possibly using the student blogs more.

For videos, we do have several Flip video cameras, and need to develop some lessons incorporating them.  We might consider having students get started by using some of the sites on The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content) list.

So, Katie and I have some thinking to do!

Feedback is welcome…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for publishing your survey results. I just discovered Englishcentral.com a week ago and my students love it.
    I have administered several student surveys myself.
    Students surveys have proven an effective tool for keeping me in touch with students thoughts and needs. My classes have consistently ranked Englishspeak.com as one of their favorite sites.

  2. Its very use if students have computer to learn language. It would be very easy to learn the language with the help of computers

  3. Pingback: Fifteenth Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Carnival | Teacher Reboot Camp

  4. Pingback: Fifteenth Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Carnival Teacher Reboot Camp « My Life Untranslated

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