Language Learning with Technology: Ideas for Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Reviewed by Courtney L. Francis, Northeastern Illinois University

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Author: Graham StanleyPublisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-11107628809
Publication Year: 2013

The only element that is missing from Language Learning with Technology is that of intimidation, as this book is useful and approachable.  There are some aspects of this book that help the reader to realize, from the beginning, that the term “technology” is operationally defined in the broadest way possible.  In education circles, “technology” very often refers to computers, laptops, and tablets.  However, Stanley makes it clear that teachers might potentially use forty-five different kinds of technology as vehicles for learning.

Not only does this book treat technology broadly, but it also treats the concept of learning broadly, letting the reader know that this is a book written thoughtfully by an educator.  For instance, there are sample activities for all four domains of language, project-based work, and community-building projects and activities, to name a few.  In essence, the author understands what a teacher, whether, new or experienced, is charged with in his/her role.

A concern that a teacher might have when considering the purchase of this book is whether their school owns the technology required for the recommended lessons and activities.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the lessons required few devices.  For instance, Class Audio Recording (1.8), is useful in many ways, yet it only requires a voice recorder.  For Spoken Journals (8.1), all that is needed is an internet-enabled computer with a microphone.  If students are not ready to reflect on their learning in writing, a spoken journal serves this purpose and allows for practice in speaking. 

Building a community of learners is important to teachers.  We know that if we fail to build community, it is difficult to meet objectives.  Stanley offers a number of suggestions in this realm.  Many of them, like Mystery Guest (2.5) and Language Wiki (2.7), offer introductory and ongoing community-building opportunities that simultaneously build language skills, technology skills, and social skills.

There are many wonderful vocabulary-building activities offered by Stanley, but my favorite is the Online Word Game Tournament (3.3), which can be assigned for homework and can be played by the whole class over the course of the semester.  Students can build vocabulary and apply creative skills, as well as cooperative skills, with the Memory Poster Project (3.6).

Automatic Cloze Tests (4.3) should be very appealing to teachers who would like to use student work to inform practice in a particular grammar area. Common Grammatical Errors (4.7) is ideal for teachers who are interested in an inductive approach to grammar for their students. 

While I could go on and on about the usefulness of Language Learning with Technology, perhaps my favorite activity is Word Cloud Warmer (6.1), which is genius! Word Cloud Warmer creates pre-reading tasks with any text you would like to use, making frequent words larger, for instance.

What I appreciate most about Stanley’s work is that it is literally written and compiled for every kind of educator – elementary, middle, high school, college, older adults – at all language learning levels.  This book is for the conscientious teacher, whether technological or not, who would like many more tools in the tool chest!

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The ITBE Link - Summer 2014 - Volume 42 Number 2

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