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Flexible ESL Online Learning Activities via Padlet

Updated: Mar 24


Virtual boards can be an avenue for interactive media sharing during English as a Second Language (ESL) online learning activities for different levels of education. Padlet is an interactive virtual board that can be diversified into innovative teaching practices as the platform enables its users to communicate by sharing information through texts, videos, images, and links.


ESL educators and students can explore the superb features of Padlet for their ESL lessons. The embedding function of Padlet allows educators to link it with other internet-based collaboration platforms. Educators can expand its use in the context of ESL activities by integrating the available features with other digital apps and software to allow wondrous air of creativity in the virtual classroom.


Approaches of Using Padlet Solutions

I want to share an effortless teaching and learning approach through an interactive online task focusing on three basic parts of speech in the English language: nouns, adjectives, and verbs. This task is suitable to be carried out during the lesson's developmental stage as a reinforcement activity or even as an ice-breaking activity for students to socialise virtually in the early weeks of the semester. Students in a mixed-ability class can progress independently because of self-paced instruction.


Moreover, educators can monitor their students' real-time ongoing progress and outcomes via the postings made in Padlet. Remember that flexibility and fun are the primary keys to this virtual activity! Let me walk you through a brief ESL class activity using Padlet to stretch students' knowledge of nouns, adjectives, and verbs in Movement Control Order (MCO) style during the global COVID-19 pandemic.


1. Locating Objects in Their Surroundings to Focus on Nouns

For the first task, the ESL educator may get the students to warm up using their mobile phones or recording devices to capture a few still images of tangible living or non-living things within their surroundings. The educator can determine the number of objects based on the duration set during the lesson planning stage. Ideally, the students are free to roam safely inside or outside the comfort of their personal space and be mindfully selective of the images to be shared with their peers. Hence, a simple instruction the educator gives can be assigning them to scout around for any wonderful humans or objects that uplift their moods! Once they have decided, they can upload the images in Padlet for everyone to view.


2. Describing the Objects by Using Adjectives

For the subsequent task, students may start incorporating adjectives that express the quantity, value, opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, and materials of each chosen object. They should describe the object by incorporating adjectives in a few words. The written description acts as a caption that should be presented precisely; thus, the number of words should be kept to a minimum. The two images are the descriptions and images of the objects found in the ESL students' surroundings. The students who have completed their task should be reminded to carry on by responding to their friends' image posts. To allow online interaction, they may share their responses to the images and descriptions as statements or queries in the comment box. Thus, they must be able to use interrogative words to ask questions and give feedback on the images. The ripple of responses will amazingly develop into conversations that involve the participation of different individuals in the same class. The educator can monitor their participation, moderate content, and facilitate discussions.


3. Sharing Activities to Emphasise Verbs

In the following task, allow the students to show their hidden talents or activities, including any safe stunts they can do alone or with anyone nearby. If their movement is restricted, encourage them to record any moving objects in their surroundings. Additionally, the educator can promote flexibility in the ESL activity by giving them freedom in app selection to allow room for creativity and decision-making. They can edit a still image using apps or software and turn it into an animated image showing movements. The self-made animated images and short-form videos can remarkably highlight the whole activity. These are a few examples of animated images and videos captured by ESL students for the activity.


Students' Feedback

These are the responses from the ESL students who participated in the activity via Padlet. Only a few students mentioned being shy at the beginning of the task because it was not common for them to share their belongings or activities with others.


Nonetheless, these students were thrilled to get to know one another better during the task.

  • A bit shy because I never shared my videos with my friends, but I think I will be more confident if I do it again.

  • I felt shy and nervous for the first time because I rarely did it. But I enjoyed it.

  • Nervous because I don't usually share my daily life or surroundings.

It was surreal to discover that most students were fond of using their gadgets to capture and share images on online platforms during the task. Apart from enjoying the activities via Padlet, they also hoped to do more similar activities in the future.

  • It is very good, and I enjoy taking pictures and videos.

  • This is a great activity because we can share what we do.

  • I like sharing my picture and video.

The ESL online learning activity via Padlet, by and large, shows the significant wonders of students' surroundings that have successfully improved their understanding of the ESL topics taught. The inclusivity aspect of the activity allows less participative students to play their parts during the virtual activities because the objects are within their reach! Moreover, this activity is practical to be executed synchronously and asynchronously for students with low or no bandwidths. They can still tag along when the internet connectivity is available since it is self-paced.


Let's Ponder...

Educators may also consider this task as a follow-up activity for students to try after class hours. The tasks via Padlet acknowledge the hidden curriculum elements as demonstrated by the students' commitment during the activity. Based on the duration given, the implicit outcomes include students' self-discipline to submit authentic images of objects and their active participation in kinaesthetic learning activities. This stresses the importance of integrity for students to complete the task that requires others' involvement to realise the activity's objectives.


By injecting the elements of flexibility and fun during the activity, educators create the opportunity for students to engage in real conversations through the online platform in a stress-free manner. Besides that, using actual objects in the task encourages students to be more creative in executing the activity. For instance, they can use other platforms to edit raw images and videos to unleash creativity. The activity also enhances students' use and understanding of the parts of speech in English and prepares them for other ESL activities.


Hence, students will have an uplifting view of the English language and motivation to accomplish simple goals before tackling other complex tasks. By polishing the fundamental aspects of English, students can gain ideas to utilise online platforms and learn new skills. Consequently, ESL online learning activities can be made more meaningful with the elements of flexibility that value authenticity and human connection.


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This guest post is authored by Marni Jamil, a lecturer from the Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

 

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