I feel like I’m pretty creative when it comes to using technology with English Language Learners.  I feel I’m the same way working with students in a non-tech setting, too.

Having this perspective about myself (which may or may not be accurate) contributes towards me feeling even dumber when I learn about a simple idea that someone’s had that would help my English Language Learners tremendously, and which I feel I should have thought of long ago.

I got that feeling when I read the Teaching Learners With Multiple Needs blog today (by the way, Kate — I couldn’t find her last name anywhere on the blog — shares lots of resources useful for English Language Learners).

She wrote about finding an inexpensive recording toy in the store that allows students to tape and play-back their own voices.


With the continually decreasing cost of technology, something like this would be an obvious asset for English Language Learners, especially for Beginners.  Not only could students improve their pronunciation by listening to me and other sources, and practicing speaking with other students, they could hear how they sound themselves.  I have them use websites that have that feature when we go to the computer lab, but it would be so much accessible to have that ability in class.

I’ve had students use small (and expensive) digital voice dictionaries to help decode words when they read, and they’ve used handheld devices made from PVC pipe so they can hear when they read aloud to themselves.  I’ve thought of using audio recording outside of the computer lab, but I just figured any device would be too expensive and too complicated. 

I couldn’t find the toy that Kate wrote about, but after searching the Net I did spot a Parrot Pen With Voice Recorder from Highlights.  It’s funny looking, and only allows you to record for six seconds, but it costs just $4.98 and you can actually say a lot in that period of time.

I sent in an order and will play around with it.  It might be a nice change-of-pace for students to try once-a-week or more in class.  And, if they find it useful, it might even be worth giving some students a chance to take it home — which is one advantage with it being so cheap.

What has been your experience with using audio playback in ESL/EFL classes?