The ABC of ELT

Using Computers and Email for One to One students

As part of the International House one to one course we have to choose a research topic for a certain area of one to one teaching and investigate it.

I chose computer and email.

It’s not hard to understand why, I love technology and gadgets, and it tied nicely into my student blogs series that I’ve been running.

My presentation is on Friday so I though I’d put it up here before hand and ask you guys:

Is there anything you would add in? How do you use computer and Email with one to ones?

Here is my Current structure.

Why you SHOULDN’T use computers and Email in teaching or one to one?

  • Novelty factor
  • Where a non tech solution is better
  • If students need to be taught IT skills first.
  • If students have no interest in IT

Why Should you use computers and email in teaching?

  • For people who use computers a lot, it is very relevant and realistic.
  • Bring extra students or people into the classroom.
  • Extend the learning environment beyond the classroom.
  • A wealth of authentic material
  • Cheap resources online
  • Paperless and environmentally friendly.
  • Providing a record of class work or an online portfolio

What are some types of activities you can do?

Relevant and realistic activities using computers

  • Writing activities on computers, such as emails, letters,  memos, reports, and meeting minutes
  • Research projects in English.
  • Emailing in homework or material to use in next class

Providing a record or online portfolio

  • Blog to provide a record of work and assignments for the student. Also allows teacher and students to ask each other questions during the week.
  • Using a wiki to provide a series of self-study homework tasks for students to complete.
  • Record audio or video of student completing task. [can be either practice for speech/exam or record of progress] (thanks Gareth)

Extend the classroom:

  • Teacher sends an interesting article/video/ to the student along with comprehension questions to answer before the lesson.
  • Speaking task using fotobabble/vocaroo/etc
  • Using Google Docs to reformulate students writings and leave annotated notes for the student to look at. [Thanks Christina]

Bringing other students into the classroom.

  • Using Skype to interview another student
  • Connecting students with other students via Email/social networks/Skype to practice their English together.
  • Using Skype to carry out distant lessons [Thanks Noreen and Christina]

Cheap resources online

  • Using corpora or dictionaries to research collocations and definitions of words.
  • Using free/cheap online activities such as Quizlets, English Addicts, esolcourses
  • Authentic up to date texts based on students own interest and needs from websites.

Smartphones [thanks Noreen]

  • Dictionaries [learner and bilingual dictionaries such as Oxford advance learners dictionary]
  • Flashcard apps such as British council/voxy/Anki
  • Podcasts

Over to you! What would you add? What resources do you use (particularly with one to ones)?

Updates are in Red with credit to contributors


About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

8 Replies

  1. Gareth @reasons4

    Hi Chris, 
    A very comprehensive list, one of the first techy things I used with my one to one student was when I bought a pc with a built in webcam. We used to practise the presentations the student had to give in their work environment and record them and work on the recordings. 
    Hope this adds to your list and is not taking it down a different avenue. 

    1. Great Idea, I actually used some audio software for a 1-2-1 student who was practising for IELTS. She found it strange at first but got into it. Thanks for the idea and reminder.

  2. Hi Chris!  
    I did the 121 course as well, and used Skype during one lesson because the student couldn’t attend due to family reasons–she had to be at home and we did some mock exam speaking that way.  She thought it was great and at one point we did listening and simulated a telephone conversation, so it’s not just bringing other students in, but varying the style of interaction between T & S, which can be . 

    I think your list is very thorough already, so not sure what more to add……

    When you talk about computers, does that exclude smart phones??  Because I found with one of my 121s (very busy business man who had to change/cancel classes left and right) that he was very keen on downloading and using apps on his phone while waiting for clients, or during his lunch.  Not sure if that’s what you’re looking for, but they are little mini computers themselves!

    Good luck with the presentation!

    1. Thanks Noreen!

      I hadn’t thought about using Skype to keep in contact with a distant student, although this idea is central to blended learning courses (which I’d guess have more pull for 1-2-1 students than General English for no obvious purpose.

      It’s a good point about Smart phones and apps, I’ve certainly used them more than general computer resources for my own language learning.

      Now I’m just a bit worried about fitting it all within the time limit!
      Thanks once again.

  3. Christina

    Hi Chris, 
    I once had a 121 conversation class with someone with very limited availability. We used to have the conversation on skype (audio only), sometimes practice interviews too. I used to simultaneously type tips like collocations, vocabulary and corrections on word and email them to her as a reference or used the chat option on skype for quick tips/ spelling of words she didn’t get etc. 

    Someone I used to work with had students upload written work on google docs so he could edit and add corrections, comments and suggestions on the same document. The student would then build up a bank of corrected and annotated written texts they could refer back to. It did mean they both had to have a google email account – I think the same may apply to other email providers such as hotmail.
    good luck!

    1. Thanks for the two ideas.
      I remember watching a Skype lesson that didn’t have a video for it. I bet it would really focus the teacher on instructions, grading their language, presenting clearly etc, that would be really useful for other classroom too.

      The Google docs idea is nice. In fact, just a couple of days ago I read a post about using Google docs mid lesson in a group. Students can write up example sentences of a grammar/lexical item and then peer correct simultaneously. [Back to the 121 point] I’ll definitely give using Google docs a try.

  4. Hi Chris – you’ve got loads of ideas already 🙂

    I once used Skype to have a ‘guest teacher’ present in class along with me. I just happened to be talking pre-lesson on Skype to my friend/colleague Dave Warr (of Language Garden fame) when my students started arriving, and things just continued Dogme style. I would like to organize other guest appearances when appropriate.

    1. Thanks Alan,
      I’d really like to try it out with guest teachers and visitors (both Native and Non-Native speakers). I remember seeing a challenge of Making a connection with students from another country. If only there was a list online somewhere where teachers could arrange chats/interviews/etc between classes. (maybe there is one even!)
      Thanks once again. I’m actually presenting my report tomorrow to the school :S Wish me luck

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