Nowadays, young people have grown up in a world where access to the Internet is constantly at their fingertips and they have become addicted to their smartphones and just can’t live without them. Even a term FOMO emerged. Fear of missing out describes when a person feels increased anxiety or stress from missing out social events or not having been invited to attend in the first place. FOMO feelings are typically amplified for frequent visitors of social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Some learners even manage to use mobiles at the lessons to surf the Internet or chat with friends. There several ways how you can tackle this problem:
➨ Restrict phone use at the lesson: make a “phone jail” and collect all phones before the lesson starts
➨ Make the best of using them at the lesson and keep cell phone use appropriate (of course, it depends on the number, age, behaviour of students and many other factors)
How can mobile phones be used at the lesson:
1) Make lessons more fun
Hot topic in EFL world now is gamification at the lesson. Simply put, gamification involves using the principles of classroom games to motivate and engage students. There are lots of great games which almost every learner loves. One of them is kahoot. It is a game-based platform that makes learning awesome for millions of people all over the world. You can create and play fun jumble, quiz, discussion, survey games. What you students need to have to play this game is a mobile phone.
2) To make a lesson more fun you can use also emojis as a warm up, lead-in, vocabulary practice, speaking and writing prompts, exit tickets, evaluation worksheet. Read more in the article.
Pronunciation work can be done with fun too. Students can play pronunciation games (e.g. Cambridge phonetics focus), make recordings and then listen to them to check pronunciation, send to the teacher or their partner. Learners will need to use a voice recorder on the phone or online app such as Vocaroo, VoiceThread (vocal interaction, creating presentations with videos, documents, pictures and adding voice messages to them), Flipgrid (where students watch the video added by a teacher and add voice message to it). That activite will greatly help students preparing for the exams.
What is more fun is creating gifs and videos. You can create them online (gifmaker) or using different apps.
You can organize quizzes and webquests at the lesson. Examples you can find in our lesson plans.
3) Personalize the task
To encourage speaking teachers try to create personalized tasks. Mobile phones can help in it.
If your students work on Past Simple, ask them to open their last picture on the phone and talk about it.
If they discuss the topic “appearance, personality”, ask to open an Instagram account of a person they follow and talk about him/her.
If you discuss the topic “couchsurfing” (New English File, Elementary, 3rd edition, Unit 10B), ask your student to open couchsurfing website, create an account, choose a place to go and so on.
4) Develop Learner autonomy
Students remember the words better if they were not just given the exact translation but they figured out the meaning by themselves. Sometimes allow the students to use their mobiles to check the spelling and meaning of the words at the lesson (it is up to you whether it’s target language or just some new word in the text). They might also use dictionary apps or e-learning tools outside the classroom.
Read more Learner Autonomy in the article.
5) Task based learning
At the TBL lesson learners themselves decide on the content of the task, therefore they might need their mobile to investigate and gather information for their projects.
Read more in the article.
6) Create a learning community
Create a WhatsApp, Skype or VKontakte group for your students. It’s an easy way to get your students connected so they can safely collaborate, get and stay organized, and access assignments, grades, and so on. My students share funny pictures and memes, discuss homework and just chat with each other.
Whether to use smartphones at the lesson or not is a controversial topic and the decision is up to you.
Have you ever used mobile phones in your lessons?
Would you like to try? Share your opinion in the comments below. We appreciate your ‘likes’ 🙂