About technology and how I use it.
As an English teacher, and in a personal way, I have found an excellent support in technology. Internet is a great source to get access to lyrics, songs, (with videos, some, including both languages) games, books, magazines, key pal exchanges, web pages to continue one’s studies, specific languages chat rooms; to programs that allow transforming video, MP3, VCD, DVD, so one can use it according to one’s needs for sharing; perhaps following the lesson planning designed individually or as a back up in the text book, or just as personal practice if it’s the case. There are other programs such as WINRAR and WINZIP, which help compressing the data so it fits in a USB device. One can also find translators online with examples and explanations, synonymous, antonymous, etc. There are, for more advanced needs, urban dictionaries, which help translating slang or idioms; and specific words and expressions in particular areas (legal, scientific, etc) as well.
Web Pages with interactive exercises, games, tests are available for free; some of them ask only to provide one’s email. One can also practice the listening and speaking skills in these Web Pages. The very last tools I found were given to TKT (Teaching Knowledge Training) course students by a Professor who thinks of classrooms outside walls, open and of easy access for everyone interested in facilitating learning with Internet support. These wonderful tools are: VOKI (one can record a message and personalize the avatar who will repeat it online); BLOGS (so students and teachers keep in touch anytime, anywhere); and a wide list of specific learning pages.
The challenge is finding the way to involve students to use these tools. In Michoacan free Internet access is still developing, as well as computer access; but it is so useful, that it should be put in practice; one can spread the word and give time to explain the basic steps and help others with this “fear” until it is been understood and used. But most of all, all of these tools, ways to communicate and interact with people worldwide, help the students get a wider, more cultural and more critical point of view and self teaching in any subject of one’s interest. It is much repeated: “Make a tool out of it and not the destination”
As any great thing; internet has its bad side. Our generation is going through problems such as spending too much time in social networks without getting benefits and instead, loosing time chatting or checking people’s pictures and stories for hours; getting to the point where humans start losing face to face interest because for some, surfing through these nets individually, from their house comfort and privacy. They find it much more interesting and fun than the real time human contact.
The situation with the article, from the Israeli teenagers it is not a novelty. People use the social networks to forget about their real life problems. In my own experience, I have found a lot of these people getting nasty, rude and annoying in public studying languages chat rooms, until they are finally blocked from the web pages. I understand their need to release their anger, and I believe at least this is the last harmful way to do it; but again, real life is happening while the social network curtain is just a fake escape.
In the end; I think, after the excitement of the first contact with the Internet, people eventually stop wasting time in chat rooms or social networks, and start to use it as the practical and useful tool one needs and finds support. In my work, some classrooms have a computer, speakers and an images projector; so I bring material I consider interesting, fun and effectively educational for the children I teach. It works great as a back up and extra material to support the school syllabus.