Q&A: Will Classroom Technology Help English Language Learners?

February 28, 2014 /


New America Media, Question & Answer, Irene Florez, Posted: Feb 28, 2014

Ed. Note: Thanks to the adoption of Common Core, the push for more tech-centered classrooms is now getting a boost. Many states are already using Common Core curriculum. Now many districts are preparing to begin the related computer-based assessments—and for that they are buying new devices and increasing their online connectivity. Pilar Carmina Gonzalez is a researcher for the Education Development Center. A leading expert on children and technology and a former ESL teacher, she says technology will open new avenues of learning for ELL students. She spoke with NAM’s Irene Florez.

What are some of the challenges facing ELL students when it comes to developing literacy?

A lot of ELLs struggle with literacy in general. They lack the vocabulary and the background knowledge. They might have the conversational English but maybe they can’t read academic English. So, if they can’t read informational texts, then they are missing out on learning.

Is there a best way to teach ELLs? Are teachers using these?

Many teachers are not trained to teach ELLs. There are strategies like providing visual and audio support to provide scaffolding. For example, pictures and text together can help them access the text. Aside from having an ESL teacher for an hour or two a day, many students might not be in a school equipped for them throughout the day.

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