Mika of Travel Gear Blog fame sent me this article about laptops in Libya. Apparently the MIT-affiliated non-profit association One Laptop per Child has developed a simple, sturdy and portable laptop which is powered by a wind-up crank. It plans to make this machine available for large government initiatives in several developing countries around the world….for the bargain price of $100 each.
(The cynic in me feels a deep need to explain the pitfalls of such a plan as I see them…but I will save that for another post entirely)
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Here’s how this relates to TEFL . Many, if not most, students of English throughout the world do not have their own computers, or they do not attend schools where computers are provided at a rate of one per child (heck, most students of English in the world probably don’t have the resources to attend the language schools where most EFL teacher teach). But there are a number of ways in which having access to computers can benefit EFL students:
- Many standardized English competency tests include sections which students not only complete online but need to type their answer or an essay within a time limit. Imagine the advantage someone from a more developed country, who has his own computer, has over someone who has used a computer only a handful of times.
- There is a ton of language-learning software available online for free or for purchase which students can use independently with a computer of their own.
- Having access to computers in class would allow students to choose what to practice based on their individual needs and abilities.
- While people may debate the value of the internet for children, for adults it is a great opportunity to see and use real English. I’ve heard that 80% of the content online is in English, but can easily imagine that number even higher.
- Using a computer for basic writing work saves both time and teachers’ eyes…from hard-to-decipher student handwriting.