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Using Technology with Your Private English Students: 5 Ideas!

How can technology help each of us be better English teachers for our private students? Here are 5 ideas!

 1. Laptops for Lessons

As teachers we are used to using paper and pens, and that's in part because as teaching and learning resources, they work. Obviously nowadays people are often more used to reading, writing, and learning via a screen. It's quite remarkable that with technology helping us in every other aspect of life, education is still off the pace. Laptops in particular lend themselves to in-person lessons, and they can useful for searching for interesting topics and vocabulary together, using online study resources, accessing videos and images, or creating documents together.

2. Set Watching Videos and Listening to Podcasts as Homework

In the age of the flipped classroom, it is perfectly normal to set homework which is fun, stimulating, and engaging. If you spend some time looking for good quality podcasts, such as from the BBC, or potentially interesting videos such as TED talks or TEDed, you can set the listening and watching of these as homework, and then use them as the basis for your next lesson. You can adapt the in-lesson task depending on the needs of the student. If for example your student wants to improve their conversational English then you can direct them to a podcast or online video and get the student to tell you what they enjoyed about or learnt from it.

3. Create Group Chat for Your Students 
These days knowledge and information is created, disseminated, and shared. Our roles as teachers, therefore, need to adapt to this. With the advent of the Internet our status as the brightest person in the room regarding English language has been surpassed by the gadget in the pocket of the learner. What we as teachers bring to the table has become less about providing grammar rules and more about facilitating speaking, actively correcting, working on pronunciation, and enabling our students to become independent learners. Part of that can be putting English learners in touch with other English learners. Why not start a Facebook or WhatsApp group to which you can invite your students? It will keep you all connected, will he fun,  and help build loyalty among your students.

4. Set Technological Tasks
Everywhere you turn in the virtual world you can create a personal profile, share, comment, participate, and create content that is unique to you. For better or worse each of us can be writers, singers, and video stars. You can harness this potential and set tasks for your English learners such as getting them to record and upload their voices so they can listen back and improve, or to use presentation tools such as Power Point and Prezi to crate a presentation for when you meet. Setting tasks like this is challenging for students but much more inspiring than grammar worksheets and promotes real-life skills which the learner will benefit from in various aspects of their lives.

5. Apps
There are a multitude of apps out there that you can recommend to your private students which will help them to develop faster and will compliment the lessons they are having with you. It is worth looking at these apps yourself first and then encouraging your student to experiment with different ones to see which suit their needs the best. Some of the more straightforward language-learning and vocabulary apps are Duolingo, Busuu and the British Council grammar app. For chatting the relatively new Hellotalk is great for developing informal chatting and building connections with other language learners. There are many more out there, some for free and some paid; our advice is to keep searching on the app stores, download, play, and share your thoughts with your students in your shared group!

Additionally, there's no reason why your learners shouldn't be chatting with other English learners on Skype, gaming online in English, and of course watching films or TV series in English. All of these will help your students to become more rounded English users and enable them to become more independent in their learning.

If you have any more ideas, or comments on our suggestions, please feel free to comment below!

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