In 1922 the primary teacher and School inspector George Sampson wrote a booklet called ‘English for the English’. In it he wrote: “Teachers always seem to think that it is always some other person’s work to look after English. But every teacher is a teacher of English because every teacher is a teacher in English.” As true as this was in 1922 it is all the more true in contemporary education especially in ESL Educational establishments.
Think what you may about it, but this is the reason why governments in countries like the UAE are spending fortunes on Educational reforms and hiring native English teachers across the curriculum. They understand that for English to become established in the schooling system they will need English speaking teachers. This is why it is important for teachers of all subjects to practice a bit ‘pedantry’ when in comes to students use of English.
Now this can be a bit daunting depending on the subject you specialise in and resources available to you. In my area of expertise, ICT, it is not much of an issue. The very fact that most software / hardware default language is English helps enormously. A wealth of resources are available at little or no cost. Take blogging for example. There are many free blogging sites that students can sign up for e.g. WordPress, Blogger & Tumblr. Blogging in education can serve many functions. It allows students to create an online academic persona which can reach out to a wider audience than the classroom. It is a good tool for those students who may not wish to be so vocal in class to express themselves through different medium thus supporting their individual learning style.
Blogging and social media now go hand in hand with each other and its hard to see the blurred boundaries between the two. Your blog account can be connected to sites like twitter and before you know it something you have written can be read and discussed and passed around by like minded people all over the world. Ethical issues aside this allows students to make themselves heard and motivates them to produce sensible works / thoughts which can be collected and use to produce an ‘online portfolio’ further enhancing the students online presence.
This kind of educational/professional work can now be used on networking sites like LinkedIn to show case ones achievements and attract potential Employers, clients etc.
I guess my underlying point would be that, as an ICT teacher it is my responsibility to make sure that my students are making the most of the ICT resources available and applying them to enhance their English skills as well as their ICT skills. All of the activities mentioned above are of no use if I am to neglect working on students English skills, especially in an ESL setting. In previous ICT employment where the students were native Arabic speakers, when I pointed out any spelling or grammar issues, the students would protest that this was not an English lesson.
This is an attitude that a lot of teachers and students share, but remember, there is only so much the poor English teachers can do with the time allotted to them, the rest of us need to at least stick to the standards that have been set in those English lessons, and make sure that the students are aware of what we expect from them.