My students need Samsung tablets for on the spot translations and interactive simulations , as well as matching images with vocabulary in my ESL Biology classes.
Education is needed for true freedom, so if we are to live up to our ideals of equality, we must make our excellent educational system accessible regardless of linguistic ability, or learning limitations, and provide students with the tools to do so.
Imagine being tasked with teaching complex concepts to speakers of multiple languages; many with huge gaps in their education. My students range in languages, English ability, and even continuity of their education. Many have come from war torn countries, have desperate family situations, and some don't even have fluency in their native languages. To top it off they are expected to live up to the same standards as English proficient students, and to do so in an inner city environment. Often basic textbooks are in short supply, so technology is a luxury. My students are diligent, and responsible individuals, and tablets allow them to work in cooperative groups, and individually, on labs and activities, without stopping to thumb through a translation dictionary which may or may not have many biological terms. Videos and animations can provide understanding without reliance on language. I can scaffold with vocabulary and concepts, but independence builds self-esteem.
ESL utilizes visuals, graphic organizers, hands on activities, and demonstrations of concepts; there are a myriad of websites and apps which provide 3d models, interactive activities, and web quests which can strengthen student understanding. With a tablet for each cooperative group, students can use these websites with instant access to translations to strengthen concepts. I will often have students who arrive mid-year with no English ability. Many apps allow for auditory dictation and translation on the spot, this would add a level of comfort to a student already overwhelmed by the changes. Notes can be simultaneously displayed on each tablet allowing a student to either follow the lecture or download it from my website and go at his or her own pace. Students can anonymously point out words or confusing concepts by annotating the presentation as it is being presented; I can then stop and reteach.
Technology is sparse in the school, and seldom works when needed.
Providing this technology to these students from other cultures will not only show them our commitment to education, but make my classroom a place where technology is used daily. However, the two important elements of teaching second language learners are use of visuals, and manipulatives - tablets cover both efficiently. These tablets will provide my students with a better connection to the content.
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