Using Technology to Simulate ESL in the EFL Classroom (by Whitney Hunter)

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11 Responses

  1. Barbara Barbara says:

    Thanks, Whitney!

    The idea of using phone calls for additional contact time is a good one. Some of my students also like to use email for more language practice. For many of my students, a phone call in English is beyond their ability, but community by short email messages is possible. It also gives me a better idea about their language level than I can sometimes get in class.

    When you had students using LMS, were they platforms created by the school you worked for? Or were they adapted from 3rd party platforms (like Ning, for example)? Did you find that students needed support in using an LMS with navigation in English, or was the navigation in Korean?

    Fascinating ideas, Whitney. Thanks again!


    • Hello Barbara,

      Thank you for your thoughts. I like your use of short email messages on two counts: firstly, like you said, some students’ ability is not to phone call level yet, so, email messages can help students to increase their ability without freezing up; next, in my experience writing ability develops very slowly and in many classrooms is not emphasized as much as conversation or test-taking English skills are, so giving students a chance to get more frequent feedback on their writing can really help them to develop their writing.

      In response to your question, the LMS was created by the school I worked for and all of the navigation was in Korean except for course-based content, which was at or just above the students’ tested ability level. The younger students still had some trouble, but the older students didn’t have trouble with it. This school year, I am going to try a free Google Apps program called LearnBoost and a class webpage to supplement having such a comprehensive LMS.

      Thank you again for your thoughts and question.


  2. Hi Whitney (and Barb !)

    Great post and what that I can very easily identify with having taught for 3 years in China.

    I too think the phone call idea is great. Of course it depends on the number of students and the willingness of the teacher, but from a language learner perspective it is one of the tougher challenges out there. Talking with someone every now and again could ease some of that “unknown” environment attention and really help SS become more comfortable.

    As Barb says email is another important environment and with that and the telephone I think they might very well be the two situations our SS will be most often faced with in their professional lives.

    I too am interested in what LMS platforms you used. It really depends so much on schools and school policy, but there are tons of mainstream and less mainstream options available.

    Cheers, Brad

    • Hello Brad,

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      I agree with you regarding the challenges of a phone call, particularly the number of students, willingness of the teacher. Another challenge that your response reminded me of is potential privacy issues; certainly most schools do not have the budget for a quality control program. Instead of a phone, perhaps Skype would be best suited, due to the ability to use the chat feature, share documents (even short ones), and use video even with multiple parties. A teacher could hold short scheduled study sessions or give feedback at a scheduled time, so as to not “always” be at work.

      I agree with you about e-mail. I recently read an article about how teachers can give ongoing feedback to students via e-mail, and it’s useful for sure. I found few of my students K-8 utilized my e-mail address, but maybe I should have encouraged them to do so more frequently!

      The LMS program was created by the school and mostly in Korean; however, the course content was in English at or above the students’ tested ability level. This year, I am going to try out a combination of a class web page and use the free Google App LearnBoost to supplement some of the features I’ve gotten used to having access to.

      Thank you again for your thoughts and comments.


  3. Kevin Cozma Kevin Cozma says:

    I enjoyed reading your article, Whitney. I liked the part about the blog. I have one for students to read and comment on, but I will take your advice by using it more actively. I will post some questions for the students to answer. Thank you.

    One informal way I try to have students use English outside of the classroom is by going out for meals with them in small groups. Since I don’t read Japanese well, it gives the students an opportunity to describe the foods on the menu.



    • Hello Kevin,

      Thank you for reading the blog and for your thoughts. I love hearing that you’re interacting with students using a blog and taking the English lesson outside of the classroom by having meals together. I think these kinds of experiences can create engaging implicit opportunities for learning and also create memories while building lasting relationships.


  4. The point about adding extra exposure to the language outside of the classroom is a very important one and certainly deserves to be highlighted!
    In Korea can students watch films in English that aren’t dubbed? Or perhaps listen to foreign radio / news broadcascts in English? In Israel foreign programs are just captioned, not dubbed and many people find that helpful.
    Great post!

    • Hello Naomi,

      You bring up some interesting questions. Students have the option of watching shows and movie rentals without subtitles. Aside from animations, most English movies have subtitles instead of dubbing at movie theaters. Some teachers use a lot of authentic materials from the internet, such as foreign radio and news broadcasts–these opportunities are great because it exposes students to different types of speaking styles, such as different dialects, intonations, accents, etc.

      Thank you so much for your feedback!


  5. kefyalew says:

    i am very excited reading your information concerning use of simulation 4 teaching language

    • Thank you, kefyalew! The more English an EFL student can be exposed to and encouraged to interact with in a meaningful way that is fun for them, the better!


  1. September 29, 2011

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