Published 26th October 2017

Everybody uses smartphones these days. This is something we cannot deny. Even in the classroom our students can be seen trying to text quickly under their desk, check their emails or even take selfies! Instead of trying to win a losing battle by nagging them about using their phones in class, why not make them a part of your lessons? Besides, as teachers we are encouraged to use technology more and more in the classroom and there is no reason why this shouldn’t include smartphones.

Not sure how to go about this?

Three activities you can do with smartphones in the EFL classroom:

My Best Photos

Ask your students to look at their photo galleries or Instagram and choose their five favourite photos. In pairs they must show each other their photos. The students must guess what is happening in their partner’s photos before the other student can confirm or correct their assumptions.

For example: You’re on the beach, so I think you were on holiday. Are you in Thailand? I think that’s your Mum and your Dad. I think you were lying in the sun because you are very brown and you were swimming because your hair is wet.

This activity can be a free language activity or it lends itself well to modals of deduction.

A Journey

For homework, ask your students to take photos on their journey to or from school. Don’t give any parameters for the photos; let them decide what they find interesting enough to take a photo of – you may be surprised at their creativity! In class they tell the story of their journey to a partner using their photos.

This also a great activity to practise narrative tenses as students can use their photos to tell a story of something interesting that happened on their way to school.

My Phone Is Better Than Your Phone

Ask your learners to take out their phones. In pairs or groups they must compare their phones in order to decide who has the best phone. First, decide the parameters of the comparison – looks, price, camera quality, memory, and so on. Then let them compare their phones in pairs. Once they have finished, pair up the pairs so they are in groups of four. Continue regrouping the students until you end up with two halves of the class deciding who has the best phone.

This is a great activity for comparisons or when dealing with the topic of technology or communication. Deciding which phone is “best” is a subjective matter and entirely depends on what a person is looking for in a phone, so it’s interesting to see how your students justify their choices.

Making use of technology in the classroom is something we should do because it’s a part of our students’ (and our) lives. Though they can be irritating, there is no reason to ban smartphones from the classroom because they can actually be quite useful, as long as we know how to use them to our advantage.