By Dana Mizrahi
Junior High School Principal and English Teacher, Hadassim Youth Village
In January 2018, Israel’s Athena Fund launched its new program, Laptops for Every English Teacher. As part of the program, Israeli English teachers will receive laptop computers and 120 hours of professional training.
I am an English Teacher, and I can attest, from my personal experience, to the great importance of the laptop as a tool that can significantly promote the teaching of English.
Before using the laptop, English lessons were mostly frontal, and the skills we focused on were reading, writing and understanding the texts. Since we began using the computer, we have begun emphasizing additional skills, such as searching for information, collecting data and preparing presentations. Using a laptop also enables more discussion and decision-making.
The computer also allows us to use games, such as Quizlet, as a means of teaching and learning.
Games help students be more active in the process, by making them – and not just the teacher – responsible for learning. As a result, students are more motivated.
The laptop enables students to acquire a larger vocabulary and to make better use of the rules of grammar, which are completely different from what is common in Hebrew.
One example of this is teaching active and passive – which can be a complex subject area. Another is present progressive. Writing the grammatical rules on the blackboard is not very helpful for Israeli students, since they do not have such rules in their native language. However, when the rules are demonstrated by a song – let’s say the well-known song I am Sailing – especially when accompanied by subtitles, it helps students understand grammar rules better.
I myself prepared a video by which students open the lesson with the song I am Sailing, and then they see another video in which they get an explanation about the subject of active and passive. Students also play interactive games around active and passive, and their understanding about the subject is greatly enhanced, compared to previously, when they did not the computer.
The computer also helps in learning spoken English, not just reading and writing. Through the computer, the students prepare their own presentations and show them in the classroom, and I am pleased to say that the number of presentations is increasing. I believe that thanks to the use of videos and presentations, students are delving deeper into English language.
I also see an improvement in the joy of learning. Thanks to the use of the laptop, lessons have become more interesting. It should be noted that the very use of a digital book application in English makes the lesson more interesting. The use of visual means in the classroom is a positive and meaningful experience. The students are drawn to the lesson, they are more interested in it, and they remember the material better.
I use an overhead projector in class to show the students what I have prepared on the laptop. In addition, I use the projector to display presentations, book reports and other content that the students prepare in the computer room, the school library or on their home computer and then transfer to my computer via disk-on-key or e-mail.
In conclusion, using the laptop enhances the learning process on several levels, increases students’ motivation and boosts their curiosity. I recommend using a laptop to every English teacher.