Smartpen ESL Activities

It's been very exciting to see how smartpen ESL activities have helped many students become more independent, engaged, and successful speakers and writers of English! Many ELL/ESL teachers have also found ways to use the smartpen to improve their teaching and communications with their students.

In fact, before you embark on browsing the many ideas below, you may want to read the 2009 essay by Emily Wartinbee titled, "The Value of Technology in the EFL and ESL Classroom: Using the Smartpen to Enhance the Productivity and Effectiveness of ESL Instruction." Emily submitted the essay as part of her Teaching & Learning Capstone Projects at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

Livescribe smartpens are perfect for auditory modeling.  

Record words, phrases, or sentences using a Livescribe smartpen and dot paper or Sound Stickers. This allows ESL students to practice one word, phrase, or sentence at a time. 

Talking ESL Flashcards

Teachers can create talking picture flashcards or make objects talk by adding Sound Stickers or Audio Dots to index cards or objects and then adding their voice to them in one or more languages.

Student-Created or Teacher-Created Audio Books

Bring your classroom library to life by reading aloud stories using Sound Stickers. Place a Sound Sticker on every page of the book and record the words of the story for each page. Consider adding a second sticker to each page with a comprehension question recorded on it for the student to answer. Get parents or peers involved with this project so they can share in the work and fun!

Verifiable Articulation Practice for ESL

A teacher can use sound stickers or dot paper to create the perfect model of how to speak a word, phrase or sentence. ESL students can tap to listen to it and then record their own speaking practice using the same smartpen and dot paper. Practice can be verified by a parent or teacher.

Talking ESL Tests with Modified Language

Print the test onto Livescribe dot paper carefully torn out of a large Livescribe notebook (using a computer printer or copying machine) and then use a smartpen to add ink and voice to it reading each question out loud. If you do this with modified language it will help ESL students understand idioms, jargon or unnecessarily complex sentences. If you don't have time to copy the test onto dot paper, then consider using a Livescribe Sticky Note or Livescribe Sound Stickers which can be used to easily add your voice to any document.

Note Taking with Audio Backup

Note taking is already a difficult task for many students but can be especially difficult for ESL students. Smartpens enable these students to take notes and listen to them again and again as needed, even with the ability to slow down the playback speed of the audio. Replaying the recorded audio also enables them to add additional notes to make their notes more complete.

ESL Learning Sentences

Record common phrases with audio on Livescribe notebook paper. This is especially helpful for ESL students when they first come to a new country and need common phrases to be successful in the first few weeks.

Read more about one student's positive experience with Learning Sentences in this Live Learning with Livescribe blog post.

24/7 Access to Daily Teacher Instruction

ESL students and their parents, who are often also learning English, can benefit greatly from having access to pencasts of class notes created by their native English speaking peers or teachers. These pencasts can be shared using email, teacher websites, blogs, or Google Docs so that students and parents can access them anywhere - at home, the library, or on mobile devices. Parents can then have the opportunity to become involved in the learning process and students can benefit from reviewing difficult concepts as many times as needed for understanding.

New ESL Enrollments

A Livescribe smartpen in use by office staff who enroll new arrivals from foreign countries allows standard questions that new families may ask to be written out and translated into the various languages they need and include probable answers. Parents can then indicate their response.

For example: Has your child been enrolled in a school here in the US before coming to our district? Yes or No. If yes, what was the name of the school? What grade level was your child enrolled in? 1,2,3,4,5,6 etc. The pen will do the talking, recorded by community members who speak the language needed.

ESL Reading Activities

Be sure and check out our Smartpen Reading Activities page to find many ideas for teaching reading that are also great ESL reading resources. The ability to use the Livescribe smartpen to record audio and then slow down recorded audio on playback is a big plus for students who are new to the English language.

We want your ideas for more smartpen ESL activities!

Share your activity idea and we'll pass it along for others to benefit from.