In today’s world, and more specifically in the world of Spanish language teaching, new technology offers exciting new resources of enormous value. The use of social networks, document sharing, virtual classes… these are all wonderful learning tools that are making an enormous impact on our classes.
Teaching Older Students
I just have to consider however that group of students who find themselves in what we refer to in Spain as “la tercera edad”, in other words “older” or even “elderly” students. More and more students who fall into this age-range, despite not having grown up in the digital world of today’s young folks where the internet plays an integral role in daily life, have been able to keep themselves “up to date” technologically speaking, and you can even see them venturing deep into the raging waters of the internet.
I can’t deny that I love to see many of these students with their smart-phones, laptops and tablets doing their advanced searches and using the latest apps. But there’s also a community of older students who aren’t so computer literate, which isn’t there fault considering the dizzying speed at which electronic-device-technology is evolving… all the rapid, radical, change has caught many a little off guard.
We should keep them in mind when planning our Spanish classes, and when placing students into pairs and groups, remembering to make sure members of our unplugged crowd get teamed with someone who has the necessary device, or at least the necessary tech knowledge (this way you can make the activity work and at the same time give the digitally less-experienced a chance to pick up some of the basics from a classmate, without having to expose to the entire class the fact that they are a little “behind the times”).
On infrequent but consistent occasion, you’ll come across a student who refuses to use a computer, who doesn’t have or intend to have a smart phone, a laptop or even an email address. You may want to recommend an individual course for these students who are apparently allergic to cyberspace.
All this makes our job more challenging, and it’s why the word “routine” can’t be found in the Spanish teacher’s dictionary. Our imagination, creativity, and patience are constantly put to the test, and finding successful solutions to our students needs is a more rewarding experience than those who have never had to face situations of this caliber could ever imagine.
In any case, as instructors we are required to be prepared for any of these types of situations. Talking about them –here, in the teacher’s lounge, etc –is a great way to find solutions for each one, because as they say: cuatro cabezas piensan mucho más que una...
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