5 English and technology

Both the English language and the alphabet are gaining increasing popularity in Indian communities, in part because of the role they play in technology. These days, almost everybody has a mobile phone, and people commonly send each other text messages (SMS), often using English words to do so. The English alphabet is increasingly used to write SMS in local languages as well.

Activity 5: Your students’ use of technology

Have your students work in groups to brainstorm ideas in response to the following question: how do you communicate with your friends and your family? Think about both the people you live with and those who live further away.

You can ask this question orally or write it on the blackboard. When you use a brainstorming activity like this, one student in each group should take responsibility for writing down the ideas in their notebooks or on a large sheet of paper. (See the unit Whole-class writing routines for further guidance on brainstorming.)

Walk around the room as the students brainstorm. Listen to their ideas. If some groups are struggling, you might want to ask some prompting questions such as:

  • Do you use the telephone or a mobile phone?
  • Do you send messages using your mobile phone?
  • Have you ever used a typewriter?
  • Have you used a computer?
  • Do you or your parents write letters or emails?

When your students have written down their ideas about how they communicate, ask them to think about what language(s) they use for these activities – is it English, Hindi or their local languages, or a mix of these? Ask them to write the language on their brainstorm chart.

Then gather the students together and ask for ideas on what determines which language is used for each activity. Is it easier to use English because of the computer keyboard? Do they use the English alphabet for words in Hindi or other local languages (e.g. ‘Hain junoon’)?

Write the class ideas on the blackboard so that the students see and hear more English. If you are unsure about holding the discussion in English you can find ideas in the unit Supporting speaking in English: pair and groupwork.

Pause for thought

Here are some questions for you to think about after trying this activity. If possible, discuss these questions with a colleague.

  • Was there anything unexpected in your students’ responses?
  • Are there ways in which you could use technology in your lessons? How would you enable all students to participate with technology?
  • Could the students send a joint email or text message to someone, inviting them to their class, or telling them of a recent event? You could compose the text together on the blackboard, or students could draft the message in groups if your class is large. Then someone could type it into a computer or a mobile phone if you have access to either.

4 Connecting English inside and outside the classroom