Tutoring with Tech

On December 3rd, 18 tutors joined Claire Castagna at the Tutoring with Tech Workshop. The focus was to explore videos and apps that are designed for English learners and which students could use as homework.

“We know that the one or two hours we spend each week with our student just isn’t enough,” Claire explained. “Reading and writing homework is important, but many of our students have little or no contact with spoken English. Videos and apps can allow them to study at their own pace, practice mimicking the sounds of English, and to repeat, repeat, repeat!”

Claire demonstrated the Side By Side E-text that is available online to all tutors. One of its most powerful features is the ability to download audio files of the exercises and reading selections. Once you’ve downloaded them onto your computer, it’s simple to send files via text or email to your student. “The best part is that students without wifi can listen to the audio on their phones while they read along in their Side By Side text.

“It’s a game-changer!” Claire reported.

Tutors also explored the videos on Learning English as well as News in Levels. Both are websites and apps that provide students with video, audio, and text that they can practice over and over. The stories are short and are drawn each week from the news.

“Students love them,” said Claire.

Students can get even more listening practice through the website and apps available at Talking English and the sister apps Easy Listening Player and English Conversation Practice and English Conversation Practice. These provide audio and text for short, natural conversations that students can get on their smartphones.

Claire further demonstrated some lessons from English With Jennifer—a free website with hundreds of 15-20-minute lessons.

“Jennifer is an excellent teacher and it’s fun to watch her with real students. My own student loves learning along with them,” said Claire. “It’s one more opportunity to learn English during the week that my student didn’t have before.”

Tutor Donna Cavaille shared, “I really enjoyed the hour and a half that I spent with Claire, learning about many different tech tools that are available—for free!—to use with our students to help them achieve proficiency with English. As we learned about the various sites (and got to download them and check them out as we went along), I made a list of five or six that I will definitely use with my student. I can’t wait to try the first one out with her tomorrow!”

Tutors who would like the handouts with the sites for these apps and more can request a packet from Gisela or Claire.

“I’m also happy to answer questions if I can,” promised Claire. “I’m definitely not a tech expert, but I love it when we can learn from each other and discover these fantastic English learning apps!”