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Until very recently, using computers in teaching English was not part of the core curriculum at most teacher training institutions, so it is safe to say that the vast majority of teachers active today received no formal training in this field. But technology has become a part of our everyday life to such an extent that there is no excuse for not including it in our teaching, especially if it makes teaching and learning more convenient and effective. It is also true that some teachers do not use technology in their lessons because they do not feel comfortable in this field. They are afraid that if they make mistakes, their students will respect them less as the traditional teacher role does not allow the teacher to show any weaknesses or inexperience.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority of teachers accepts that computers do have a place in teaching – a ministry survey showed that 94% of foreign language teachers agrees with this claim. Still, only a very small percentage of them actually use computers in their lessons. Their reason for this is that they have no experience in this field and would require training to get started. While this project cannot claim to solve this problem and provide all the assistance needed, teachers must realise that they are also responsible for their own professional development. The Internet offers so much material that the sheer volume of resources can in itself become a problem. But you only have to start – you can deal with the problem of selection later when you see what is available. And now that you have found this project, there is at least a starting point for you – after watching the activities on the DVD, please visit the project website at and take a look at the material there. Hopefully, you will find some pointers to get you started – and remember, you can always contact the project members for assistance through the website.

If you are considering using computers in your lessons, there are a few things that should be noted:

  • Always have a backup plan. Or, preferably two backup plans: one for the case if the site you were planning to use is unavailable and one for the case if you lose all Internet connection. This might seem too time-consuming but you can always use these plans later, so you don’t actually waste time preparing them.
  • Accept the fact that everything will take longer than usual at the beginning. You will need more time to prepare your computer lesson because you have less experience. Consider this an investment in your future lessons: computer lessons can easily be “recycled”: once you have a plan, you don’t need to do anything with it to use it again. Delivering the lesson itself will also take longer at first; your students will need time to get used to this new lesson format. Even if they are competent computer users, they might not be competent online learners – they will need very accurate instructions and perhaps a lot of guidance, feedback and checking, but you’ll be delighted to see that they will very soon become very good at it. And they will certainly appreciate that they have a very up-to-date teacher!
  • Make it very clear to your students that you are going into the computer classroom to learn English. A lot of students associate computers with games exclusively. While games are an important part of learning a foreign language, students must know that they have a clear task ahead of them in the computer classroom. Tell them before starting the lesson what exactly you want them to accomplish by the end of the lesson; then they should have a clear focus.
  • At the beginning, be prepared to continuously monitor their work. Tell them explicitly that they are not to do anything else on the computer, only what you tell them to do. Depending on the arrangement of the computer classroom, you will have to position yourself behind the students’ backs so that you can see all the computer screens. If necessary, keep walking around so that you can monitor all the students. Remember, for most of the lessons, students will have to look at the computer screens and not at you or each other (depending on the task you set, of course).
  • This might sound surprising, but in almost every group there will be at least one student who either hates computers or has problems using them. When evaluating student performance, make sure that you take this into consideration. No student should be penalised for their non-language related skills.
  • Always set a tight time limit on the tasks and stick to it rigorously. Some students have a tendency of taking forever answering questions on the computer. In a frontal setting, you dictate the pace of questions by asking students one after another. If you give them ten multiple choice questions on the computer without a time limit, you will have students pondering over them for as long as 20 minutes.
  • Some students take considerably longer to complete certain tasks, and these differences will be even bigger with computer-based tasks. You should always have something for students who finish early – a quick language game, a fun reading passage, or something similar. Alternatively, you can set the task the other way round: tell your students to answer as many questions within the time limit as they can.
  • Some of your students might possess advanced computer skills that they might use to gain an unfair advantage – that is to say, if you’re using a test or a quiz, they might be able to rig the results or hack into others’ computers to see the answers. The chances of this decreases if you monitor their activities but of course teachers cannot be expected to keep spying on students’ screens all the time. A better alternative could be to tell them even before going into the computer room that you know that they might be able to achieve these feats and congratulate them on this but this is going to be an English lesson and not a hacking competition. They should be responsible for their own learning – it’s up to them if they want to improve their language skills or use their time to prove a point instead.
  • Similarly, some students might want to show off their Internet skills by suggesting alternative methods or sites for doing what you ask them to do. Acknowledge their expertise and thank them for their willingness to help but stick to your plan. This is important because you should demonstrate that you are in control of the situation. While your students may be more experienced computer users, they wouldn’t know how to teach English with technology – this will remain your task and responsibility.
  • Sharing links with your students during lessons can be made simple by setting up a profile at one of the websites listed in the “Useful links” section. Then you don’t have to worry about your students making a spelling mistake when entering the website address – just point them to your site and they can easily click on the links you’ve set up before the lesson.
  • When creating your online profile at the community websites you can find in the “Useful links” section, you should consider setting up two (or more) separate profiles: one for your friends and family, and one for your students. Things you want to share with your friends and your students might be different – so you might want to keep these two aspects of your life separate.
  • Explore the links provided in the “Useful links” section; they have been carefully selected to suit your needs for starting out with using computers in your teaching. And don’t forget, you can always go to the project website at and ask for help there.