“I Am Not Boring in your Class”: Using Digital Voice Recorders to Teach Academic Writing Skills in the ESL Classroom

Justine Hope Busto, ESL, East Mecklenburg High School

(Abstract PDF)

(Unit PDF)         


This curriculum unit explores and gives practical suggestions for the use of digital voice recorders (DVR) as a tool for teaching academic writing skills to English as a Second Language students. DVR is a useful technology because it taps in to the ESL student’s most pressing concerns: listening and speaking. Many students are bored by the finer points of academic writing such as documenting, paraphrasing and quoting from a source. However, by using interviews recorded on the DVR, the teacher can connect these skills to the development of the students’ speaking and listening skills, thus making lessons more relevant to their immediate needs and interests. DVRs are small, portable, and easy to use. In addition, most students are already comfortable with audio technologies such as MP3 players and mobile phones. DVRs allow students a way to record interviews — first with classmates, then native English speaking peers, and finally with English speakers and community contacts outside of the school. This helps to enlarge their circle of communication beyond the classroom. The DVR recordings also give students source materials for narrative and research writing, and their recordings can be saved and manipulated on the computer. Online programs such as Audacity and websites such as Radiodiaries.org are exploited in extension and assessment possibilities within this curriculum unit.