Wilson College Online Blog

How ESL Technology Can Benefit Students and Teachers

Written by: Wilson College   •  Apr 10, 2024
How ESL Technology Can Benefit Students and Teachers

How ESL Technology Can Benefit Students and Teachers

English as a second language (ESL) students have unique needs. Since students are familiar with their devices, the internet, and online learning, incorporating these into the ESL classroom can bolster their education. ESL students can take advantage of technology to better understand and improve their language skills.

To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Wilson College Online’s Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

A guide to using ESL technology in the classroom.

Types of ESL Technology

Students are more computer literate than ever, so integrating technology into the classroom can feel comfortable and natural.

Recording and Playback

Any device that can record a student’s voice and play it back can work in a classroom setting. Recording apps help students practice pronunciation by letting them listen to a sentence or word several times to analyze and practice repeating it out loud. They can also practice conversation.

Recording one side of a conversation allows students to practice their replies. Individuals or pairs can record their conversation and play it for the teacher to give feedback. Students can rehearse presentations and improve their listening skills. 

Students can record themselves practicing a presentation and then identify areas for improvement. Recording lectures or other audio material can help ESL students take notes and improve their listening comprehension.

Smart Boards and Tablets

Devices that play videos can allow students to interact directly with words and videos. Language apps allow students to practice basic skills in engaging ways. Watching videos on YouTube can help improve listening comprehension and media literacy.

Virtual Interaction

Using virtual meeting software allows ESL students to interact with each other or other English speakers around the world.


Playing games in the classroom can make learning fun and engaging for students. For example, “The Oregon Trail” allows students to work together and answer questions in English to help pioneers cross the Oregon Trail. 

“Pokémon” has storylines, characters, and locations that can help students use their English creatively. Teachers can add related educational materials to lessons.  

“The Sims” is a reality-based game that can help students learn everyday words, including basic items and locations. Additionally, websites like Sploder allow students to play games, write reviews, and practice English in a more casual environment.

ESL Technology for Students: Benefits and Drawbacks

Technology can help students learn, but it can also cause distractions.


Using ESL technology in the classroom has three main advantages.

Personalized Learning

Educational technology can allow ESL students to practice and proceed at their own pace. Students may feel less embarrassed or nervous when practicing with technology instead of with another person. ESL students can also work at different levels than peers in their own classroom.

Broad Appeal

Students may be visual, auditory, manual, or kinesthetic learners. Technology can cover all these areas and engage many types of learners. Learning with technology can be active or passive, making it suitable for any learner at any time. Gaming, blogging, and self-recording are active ways for students to practice their English through doing. Podcasts and videos allow students to learn passively through listening or watching.

Peer-to-Peer Collaboration

Students can learn from each other by sharing devices or communicating with a device. Students can also help each other become comfortable with using technology and navigating educational material.


Using ESL technology in the classroom also has some disadvantages.

Steep Learning Curve

Both teachers and students need to learn how to use technology and programs. Time spent learning how to use technology takes away from the lessons that use it. School administrators may not want to pay for new technology that also requires teachers to invest more time and effort to understand.

Distracting Devices

Students can use devices for activities other than learning. Teachers have to monitor their students as they work to make sure that they’re using their devices for learning and not for personal use. Technology can distract students of all ages.

Technical Errors

Troubleshooting, updating, and installing take time away from the lesson. Devices need to be either plugged in or charged to work. Having an inadequate supply of devices can lead to distractions as students are forced to share.

How Teachers Use ESL Technology

Once technology is introduced to the classroom, teachers can use it to their full advantage in student learning.

Film and Video

Teachers can play lessons for students on smart boards, projectors, and devices. Watching movies or the news in English can help students improve their listening comprehension.


Several language learning apps exist, including Duolingo, Babel, and Rosetta. Students can use these apps to take quizzes, play games, or practice writing.

Pen Pals

Emails, discussion boards, and social media allow students to have real conversations with other people. They can improve both their reading and writing skills through communication. Teachers can work with other schools in the area to coordinate pen pals and set up events in which students can meet and practice English in person.


Creating a class blog or making individual student blogs provides an authentic writing experience. Students can comment on each other’s blogs and discuss topics that the teacher has picked that relate to their education.

Looking Forward

Educational technology can benefit ESL classrooms by providing tools that improve English comprehension. The technology can be fun and engaging, and it can motivate students to continue learning on their own time. While teachers may need to monitor students in the classroom while they’re on their devices, ESL technology can be beneficial overall.


BusyTeacher.org, 10 Modern Ways to Use Technology in ESL Instruction

Common Sense, “How to Use Technology to Support ELLs in Your Classroom”

FluentU, Technology for the ESL Classroom: 10 Ways to Boost Student Engagement

Sage Journals, “Improving Outcomes for English Learners Through Technology: A Randomized Controlled Trial”

Tefl.NET, “The Pros and Cons of Using Tech in the Classroom”

TESOL, “A Series of Interesting Choices With the Oregon Trail for ESL”

TtMadrid, TEFL and Technology

TtMadrid, Top 5 Ways to Use Technology in the ESL Classroom

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