Special interest column: Young Learners

Social Media and the TEYL Teacher by Kylie Malinowska, IHWO

Of great interest to YL teachers (or at least should be) is the growing number of great articles written about technology and ELT. If you’re anything like me though, it can be a bit of an overwhelming information overload, especially with the ever present feelings of inadequacy and that terrible fear of the very real possibility that even your pre-school class know so much more than you do about using technology. Fortunately, the efficacy of something many of us use every day is not limited to entertaining the newly- at-home mum (ahem).  Yes, I’m talking about Facebook. It is a speedy, simple and fabulous resource for TEYL teachers.  Want to feel less guilty about all that time you spend on Facebook? Here is my. . .

Five in a flash!

1. Network with other IH schools and TEFL groups around the world

No need to go it alone. ‘Like’  the ‘International House YL Teachers’ , ‘International House World’ pages and those of other IH schools and you’ll receive all the news updates,  informative posts, and interesting articles they share and post in your feed. You’ll  also find yourself with an expanded (virtual) staffroom where you can exchange ideas and seek support.

There are no doubt other Facebook groups and pages where you can search for information relevant to your location, e.g. there is a group I really like called #czelt which is a collective of EFL teachers based in the Czech Republic who share ideas, articles, conference dates etc

2. Find and share resources and ideas

There are some websites, like ‘busy teacher’, which also have Facebook pages that regularly share resources, free printables, worksheets, ideas and interesting articles. No need to search the internet, just ‘like’ the group or page and instantly new posts appear in your feed.

3. Use it in class

If you’ve read the article on edudemic.com, you’ll know there are at least 100 Ways to Use Facebook in Your Classroom, but really the number is only limited to your imagination. One idea I love, which is also suggested in the article, is using Facebook photos. Photos and pictures of any kind are a great addition to the TEYL classroom and Facebook photos are a personalised and great resource if you have internet access.

YLs can:  speak about a photo, listen to your or each other’s stories (e.g. about a family holiday) using Facebook photos to add interest and extra visual support,  ‘comment’ on each other’s photos,  describe a photo (either written or spoken) which other students then must guess/find in an album.

4. Build community spirit by creating a group (class) page

I have a Summer Camp Facebook page, which all the teachers, assistants and kids who’ve been on (or are going on) the Summer Camp join. They can ask questions about the camp, post and comment on camp photos and find friends from camp.

Some teachers I know have class pages where teachers post homework tasks and students can ask questions. There are any number of ways a class page can be used.

5. Facebook without Facebook

Technically, the age for Facebook is 13+ . Some teachers don’t have access to the internet in their classrooms. Power cut? Internet down? Never fear, you can facebook without Facebook. It makes sense to bring our YLs outside world into the classroom, so I recently wrote a blog post about  facebooking  without the internet. I wrote about paper based ideas such as profile pages for students to fill in and write on each others ‘walls’ either as themselves or a celebrity or even a fictional character; making a group interest page (poster); putting homework, projects etc up around the classroom for other students to ‘like’ or comment on; writing each other PMs using the teacher as the server; and making your own TEFLville type game whereby students get points/ money/ tokens for speaking English, completing homework, helping others etc and then use them to build farms, cafes, intergalactic empires . . .whatever your class might enjoy.  Just don’t forget to get your YLs to help you create the game.

Again, the possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media and ELT and the ways you bring Facebook into the YL classroom, so be sure to come and ‘like’ the International House YL Teachers page on Facebook and share your ideas with the world.

Author’s Bio: Kylie Malinowska started with IH many moons ago at IH Newcastle, and is now a Teacher, YL ADOS, Pre-School Coordinator & IH CYLT tutor at IH Prague. She also works part-time at the YL Advisor for IHWO, as well as one of their IH CYLT online tutors & IH CYLT (TiT) Mentor.
She is currently working towards an MA TESOL (Applied Linguistics) and tries to find time to post on her TEYL blog when she can.