Classroom Technology

Technology Becomes Substitute for English Teacher

By Mary Ann Zehr & Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 11, 2006 2 min read

As Mexican education officials expand English classes from junior high to primary schools, they are relying on technology until enough teachers can be trained to speak and teach English well.

The Ministry of Education this year piloted a program that uses a computer loaded with interactive language software and an interactive board to teach English in the 5th and 6th grades in 150 schools.

Preliminary reports show the program is working. An outside evaluator found that beginning learners who used the system progressed well in entry-level English, even in classrooms in which the teachers didn’t know any English, said Lorenzo Gómez-Morin Fuentes, the undersecretary for basic education for Mexico’s Education Ministry.

“I don’t think that technology can substitute for the teacher forever,” said Mr. Gómez-Morin. “But the reality in terms of Mexico, given the size of our educational system, with 14 million children in primary school and 6 million in lower secondary, is that finding 150,000 teachers who could teach English is not easy.”

He said the ministry has plans to expand the use of the interactive language software to all 5th and 6th grade classrooms. It also hopes to extend the program to junior high students. All Mexican students are now supposed to begin to study English in 7th grade.

Traditionally, Mr. Gómez-Morin said, Mexico, like many other Latin American countries, has assigned even teachers with limited English skills to teach the language. “That really doesn’t work,” he said.

“English is the language we use to communicate with the rest of the world,” said Mr. Gómez-Morin. “Children know when they have access to software and the Internet that if they don’t speak English, it becomes an obstacle to make good use of the information.”

E-Learning Elsewhere

Other countries are also tapping into technology to make language learning more widespread and effective. The European Union has set up an eLearning initiative to help citizens in all its 25 member nations learn two languages in addition to their native tongue, beginning at an early age.

The initiative includes providing schools computers equipped with multimedia capacity, training teachers in using digital technology, and developing software and other resources to allow schools and teachers to network using computers.

In Alberta, Canada, the government allocated $6 million last year for a videoconferencing program to make second-language programs more accessible to rural schools. The province also offers foreign-language courses through its virtual schools and other online initiatives, according to Tim Chamberlain, a spokesman for Alberta Education, the government agency that oversees schools.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2006 edition of Education Week as Technology Becomes Substitute for English Teacher

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

2021-2022 Teacher (Districtwide)
Dallas, TX, US
Dallas Independent School District
[2021-2022] Founding Middle School Academic Dean
New York, NY, US
DREAM Charter School
DevOps Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
User Experience Analyst
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Classroom Technology Explainer A Clubhouse Explainer: What Educators Should Know About the New Audio Chat App
Educators are flocking to Clubhouse, an emerging invitation-only social app for iPhone users—even as social media experts warn of red flags.
10 min read
Classroom Technology Spotlight Spotlight on Instructional Tech
In this Spotlight, evaluate if current usage of ed tech is working and more.
Classroom Technology Popular Interactive Math Game Prodigy Is Target of Complaint to Federal Trade Commission
Prodigy is “aggressively” marketing to children, say 22 education and consumer protection organizations. The company disputes the claims.
3 min read
A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are in the computer lab using laptops. A little boy is watching a video and is listening to music.
FatCamera/Getty
Classroom Technology Low-Income Children Less Likely to Experience 'Live' Contact With Teachers, Analysis Finds
Children from lower-income families are less likely to have internet access, limiting their interactions with educators.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.
iStock/Getty