Language Learning with Technology: Survey results are in!

What technology do language teachers use?

Technology has become an integral part of our life–from cell phones and apps, to tablets and video calls.  In an effort to reach out to “digital natives,” many educators were looking for ways to connect with students using technology.  However, when it comes to younger kids, the reviews are mixed as to whether technology can be used effectively to achieve educational goals.

I have read a lot about how language learning technology can help enhance the student experience, particularly for middle and high school aged children.  But I was curious about attitudes among both teachers and parents regarding the use of language learning technology for younger kids, ages 5-11.  Here are the results of an informal survey I distributed this fall.  Although the sample size is small (approx. 65 teacher respondents), their answers can provide a jumping off point for more discussions about how, when, and if language learning technology has a place in the elementary school classroom!

Digital Learning Trends

  • Over 93% of teachers reported using some kind of digital tools in their elementary language classrooms.
  • The most commonly used tools cited by teachers were YouTube videos (95%), PowerPoint presentations (86%) and websites for cultural information (75%).  The least used technologies were social media (6%) and Skype (14%).
  • Among the greatest benefits cited by teachers to technology use were: the ability to engage “digital natives” with tools that are familiar to them, and the ability to diversify lessons with multimedia tools and outside resources.

App-Attitudes

  • If language-learning apps or games were readily available, about half of the respondents thought they would use them regularly for review or at-home practice.  About one quarter felt that games could be used on a daily basis in class.
  • Teachers overwhelmingly felt that any language-learning game would need to fit within the existing curriculum (75%), citing a desire to use technology as a supporting tool to achieve learning goals.

Obstacles to Technology Use

  • While most teachers felt that their schools supported technology use overall, many cited the fact that such resources are often allotted to core courses and not to language courses.  Lack of consistent access to technology was a limitation for many respondents.
  • Another common theme was a hesitation to use technology when “face-time” with students is limited (35%). Many elementary programs meet weekly or bi-weekly and want to use their classroom time primarily for personal interaction.

These thoughtful responses can help us develop a framework for technology use that makes the most sense for young learners.  As more and more children become capable of using technology in their everyday lives, educators can work to develop appropriate applications that will facilitate student learning. What do YOU think? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts on technology use in elementary school language learning classrooms.

Next Week: What Parents Think of Technology Use