This week, James Rice, Director of Connect School of Languages, writes about the changing face of language learning through technology.

Reinventing the Classroom

The future of the ESL industry is not based on tradition.

The way students want to study English as a Second Language has changed. In January, our digital textbooks won the prestigious 2015 Digital Book Award in New York for producing the best digital textbook. We have appeared on news shows, newspapers and magazines. It has been a whirlwind of activity. But our primary goal was to simply reinvent the classroom.

We as an industry – from schools to agents to publishers – need to recognise the way students are communicating. Students today have grown up immersed in a world of technology. The current generation of students have never lived without the internet. They have instant access to everything they need in their pockets. But technology alone will not change education.

As educators, we must teach them in the world they know.

As agents, we must seek out schools that are pointed to the future.

Change is not comfortable but sometimes it is necessary. As an industry, we need to support and encourage change.

The days of paper textbooks, DVD players, computer labs, PCs and even SmartBoards are tools of the past. They may be comfortable for teachers to use but they are not the future. Why? Because they do not provide the content students want to use. They want active and interactive content.

Today’s student is mobile. They want to access information anywhere and anytime including from their textbook. They have the ability to multi-task. They are eager to share. They are pioneers of a totally new way to communicate. Our responsibility is to guide, motivate and encourage them. We must think like a student who was born with the internet.

As educators, we need to transform our schools to be mobile. There are better tools available to teachers. And the new generation of teachers desperately want change. Digital literacy along with fluency and grammar knowledge must also be considered. At Connect, we started creating digital textbooks that are interactive and mobile without the need of wi-fi. Our tests are all online. Homework and report cards are sent digitally. Students are encouraged to submit projects to us using a variety of apps. We are in control of the content we provide our students and we can ensure the quality of classroom.

The change in our school has been magical.

As agents, it is necessary to prepare clients for the future so they can transform their culture. The students going abroad represent the future of a country. They should not be studying in the past. They should bring home new skills that can transform future generations.

We are in a period of great educational change. Schools have the power to innovate. Agents have the power to encourage innovation. It is our responsibility to start the change.

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