Using the internet with younger learners

When I first started teaching, the schools I worked in had ‘a’ computer that a few classes shared. Here are a few tips for activities using computers with learners.

Jo Bertrand

A few years later more computers were introduced with a couple of passable CD ROMs for language learning. The situation today in many places is very different. If you are lucky enough to have a classroom full of computers with Internet access then exploit it. Your young learners will probably know as much as you do about computers. They may even teach you a thing or two!

Using computers is a rich alternative to sitting behind desks and always using the same resources in class. Young learners will appreciate the change of learning environment and media.

Top tips when using computers with young learners

  • Put the page you want to use up on the screen before taking the children into the computer room. Minimise other pages so you can quickly click on them to bring them up.
  • Set the computers so that they can not wander onto unauthorised sites.
  • If the computers are in a separate room, far from your classroom, remind the children of behaviour standards before leaving the classroom. The last thing you want is a hoard of over-excited 7 year olds running to get to the computers first!
  • Make sure you are first to enter the room – they may have a tendency to touch everything they see – red buttons are always a favourite!
  • You can set up a list of computer room rules with them first if it hasn’t already be done.
  • Have worksheets they can use while on the computer so that they have something concrete they can take away from the lesson.
  • Wherever possible have no more than three per computer. If they can’t see the screen they will quickly lose interest and won’t be learning. 
  • Have a rotation system for using the mouse. Don’t let one child dominate.

There is an excellent book called The Internet and Young Learners by Gordon Lewis. Online you can download some very useful worksheets that accompany the book.

This is an edited version of a primary tip first published in 2008

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