TESOL 2017 Highlights: Smart Ways to Use Smartphones

My mind is stirring in excitement from all that I learned at the 2017 TESOL Convention. I love learning from my colleagues, and this year there was no shortage of ideas in the Electronic Village. I plan to share a number of posts based on my frequent visits to EV workshops.

At one EV Technology Fair, I made the acquaintance of Erin Kuester and Katy Meren Fuchtman from the University of Iowa. These ESL instructors gave a talk on Optimizing Smartphones for Extensive Listening.  One of their key ideas was that extensive listening has benefits and should have a place in language studies. They explained how many of the same principles for extensive reading apply to extensive listening. For instance, the learner can read or listen for pleasure and general understanding.

Furthermore, when learning a language, exposure is key. Students need regular exposure to English in authentic contexts. From music to a TED talk, learners can choose what they’d like to listen to. Erin stressed the importance of choice. It must be a learner-directed experience. When time is given for extensive listening, her lower level students are free to select the materials and even change materials if they wish. For example, if the first selection proves to be too difficult, an alternative can be found.

Because extensive listening is for fun and doesn’t require focused attention on details or specific language aspects, there’s little pressure. There are no questions to answer or tasks to complete. Students decide how to interact with the listening material: they can listen silently, they can turn on the captions, and a few might even doodle. Each will listen in his or her own way. This is another opportunity for choice.

Katy works with higher level students and includes extended listening in her class. She suggested a digital portfolio for the purpose of assessing note-taking skills. Apps like Scanbot create pdfs easily. Scanned notes can be collected, evaluated, and even used for self-evaluation.

Erin and Katy have generously shared their Smartphone EV Handout and presentation slides:  TESOL 2017 Kuester MerenFuchtman. Please check out their list of ideas for using smartphones in the classroom. From Socrative for a quick lesson review to Padlet for collaboration interactive bulletin boards, there are different apps that will help make learning engaging and effective.

Thank you, Erin and Katy, for sharing your knowledge and experience.


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