The Value of Technology in the EFL and ESL Classroom: Using the Smartpen to Enhance the Productivity and Effectiveness of ESL Instruction
As the world becomes increasingly diverse, teachers are challenged to effectively teach students new languages. Especially in China, where the government mandated that each individual must learn the English language, educators wonder how to most successfully meet the needs of students. With more than 165 million students learning English, China remains the largest market for language study. This essay attempts to explore how a specific learning technology can promote the effectiveness of ESL and EFL instruction. Livescribe, a company motivated to enhance the productivity of learning, created the Smartpen Pulse. This computer-like pen, which is full of technical features, can create a more productive educational system throughout China. Not only does the pen digitize and store handwriting, it can later transfer the data to a computer for permanent storage. It also acts as a translator and dictionary for each student. Its display allows for one line text and graphics to appear to the student. Combining the smartpen with existing textbooks, learning activities become more interactive and meaningful. The smartpen adequately aligns with learning theory in relation to use of a student's first language, explicit instruction of rudimentary concepts, and social interaction. As far as learning environment is concerned, the pen promotes differentiated activities where students are encouraged to take an active role in their learning. Accounting for curriculum and instructional strategies, the device presents all components of language with production and receptive tasks. Finally, formative assessment and accurate interpretation of a student's competencies can be understood easily and accurately. As educators, we must provide all students with the highest expectations, best learning environment and most quality resources possible. For this reason, the pen should be used in the United States. The pen allows teachers to implement more empirically validated learning systems in the classroom, increasing the amount of learning for any student.