I come from a generation where learning the English language meant being confined in a conventional classroom setting where our teacher wrote on screechy whiteboards and made us write draft after draft for each essay.
I escaped the dark years miraculously unscathed mainly because I had a diligent mum who read to us and instilled in our young minds the wonders of reading. She innovatively created her own storytelling sessions by recording her own voice and injected fun, humour and lots of love into each story. She was my best audience and that encouraged me to narrate my imaginary stories. Journal-keeping was an integral part of our lives as well. To me, reading and writing has always been second nature.
Not all of my friends ended up liking the language though; they hated it. Having to correct their mistakes through the rewriting of each composition only amplified their resentment towards the language. It took about 5 drafts to reach the final one and I cringe at the thought of it even now. They didn't and couldn't understand where went wrong and being bombarded with the use of nouns, adverbs, verbs, adjectives, proverbs, determiners, and the sort, was akin to having salt showered on an open wound. It just didn't come naturally, especially when they speak a language other than English at home.
To this day they associate reading and writing with making mistakes, getting punished, and being humiliated in front of peers.
Those were the conventional methods used in the yesteryears. We've moved into an era of exponential change, where people thrive on interactive experiences, where technologies have radically transformed the way we think, see and do.
My anti-reading-and-writing friends probably would have liked the language more had they not been confined in mortar and brick walls fighting their angst against writing drafts, and instead had greater control over their learning experiences.
Dealing with digital natives, teachers of today must be prepared to empower students with the advantages technology can bring. Let's explore some interesting teaching resources that can potentially aid teachers in enhancing the teaching and students in learning to love the English language, inside and outside the classroom.
Here's my favorite.
Some kids learn better from images and Weboword is an excellent tool to help them remember the meaning of words.
Each word is illustrated with a simple cartoon. So the next time they want to spell a word, they think of an image, not just a string of alphabets. Having a good set of word images in a child's mind will make them remember the word more easily and therefore improve their ability to spell. You can even subscribe to their RSS feeds to receive a new word everyday.
Choose from 4 options the meaning of a word. For every correct answer, a grain of rice is donated to the poor and needy of the world. So you get to improve your vocabulary and help the less fortunate!
How could we forget the age-old game of hangman? I love word games and there are plenty on the web. Here's one that is simple yet provides excitement when I'm a limb away from being hanged.
This site contains many resources that will be useful to both educators and learners. I particularly like the ESL Memory and Match game. Children engage in a game of matching 2 similar pictures with an audio for every picture turned, while racing against time and beating their previous number of clicks to get all the boxes flipped. It's a fun twist to the flash card games my mum used to play with us. With audio, colorful pictures, the word and a timer, this makes for one of the best tools for visual learners.
In this site are also grammar quizzes that help users understand words in the context of a sentence. This helps learners not only understand the meaning of a word, but also facilitates the comprehension and composition of sentences.
As a sequel to its immensely popular Bookworm series, Popcap came up with Bookworm Adventures Volume 2, in which the original word game goes into a new direction of being a wholesome role-playing action game. From fighting fictional characters with weapons powered by forming longer and more complex words to banishing fire tiles in 3 new literary landscapes, this is the best way to expand one's vocabulary base.
This is by far my favorite word-puzzle game; it is fun, easy-to-learn, and you'll be amazed by the number of words you can come up with while racing against time. Anyone from age 6 to 106 will enjoy hours of entertainment and learn while having fun!
This site contains plenty of resources for educators, from free printable worksheets, to ideas on creating fun and engaging lessons, to tutorials on improving reading and writing skills. For teachers who are on the lookout for free classroom material, look no further!
The KooBits Editor is a platform for aspiring authors and artists of digital content to create, publish, share and disseminate their ebooks to the rest of the word. Users can easily churn out astounding works of art in a short period of time given the ease of use and huge pool of resources available. Try the TestDrive for, well, a 'feel of the wheel'. The free account sign-up opens one to more features and more resources. There are 3D graphics, 2D animation, videos, animated text, and you can drag and drop videos and images from the web, like Facebook and YouTube, without even getting out of the Editor.
Apart from my earnest faith that English can be taught and learnt in fun ways, I also believe everyone's an author. Digital natives desire to be in a position where they can learn and create through technology, where they can combine the elements of narration, visual imagery and audio track to produce complete digital literarcies. Digital immigrants can include a wide spectrum of multimedia formats â videos, text, 2D images, 3D animations, audios, flash games â in lesson activities to enhance the curriculum and make teaching and learning more fun and engaging.
I hope this article has presented educators and students more ideas on how English learning can be made fun and interesting, within and outside the classroom. The world has so much to teach; the internet merely provides the conduit for it all.