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25 ideas for using WhatsApp with English language students

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teenagers playing on tabletsPhilip Haines is the Senior Consultant for Oxford University Press, Mexico. As well as being a teacher and teacher trainer, he is also the co-author of several series, many of which are published by OUP.  Today he joins us to provide 25 engaging and useful classroom activities for language learners using WhatsApp.

There are three main obstacles to the use of technology in ELT. First is the availability of technology and internet connection in the classroom. Second is teacher techno-phobia. The final, and perhaps the biggest problem, is knowing how to use it for language learning purposes.

WhatsApp or similar messaging services can help overcome these obstacles. If our classrooms are not well equipped, we can take advantage of the technology that students have on their phones, even if there is no internet available in class. Many activities can be set up by the teacher and extended beyond the classroom when students later link to Wi-Fi. Alternatively, students can show each other their phones at different stages of activities.

Many self-confessed, techno-phobic teachers that I know use WhatsApp on a regular basis in their private lives, so already feel quite comfortable with it. However, the trick is to set up activities that make students do all the work without the teacher needing to share contact details. Each student needs to have a WhatsApp buddy in the class who they communicate with via WhatsApp and carry out the activities.

Here are 25 ideas of how to make good use of WhatsApp for language learning. WhatsApp was the starting point for these ideas, but teachers will see that other applications and messaging services will work just as well. For these activities, I make use of the following five features: text, photo, video, audio and emoji.

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whatsapp2whatsapp3

 


Philip Haines moved to Mexico from England in 1995 and currently works as the Senior Academic Consultant for Oxford University Press Mexico. He has spoken internationally in three continents and nationally in every state in Mexico. Philip is the author/co-author of several ELT series published in Mexico.

95 COMMENTS

  1. Oooh! I loved this! My students and I are connected via whatsapp and we use it to send small videos we find about the topic we’re discussing, or to say we’ll be late. This is really fun and a much more educational way to use this tool. Thanks.

  2. This is a great use of the app – a very versitile tool for practising lots of english language skills – thanks for the ideas! 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing valuable information regarding Use of WhatsApp for Enhancing English Language Skills. Rally WhatsApp is a Whats Up for ESL learner.

  4. I use WhatsApp with some of my groups. It depends on whether the majority of students agree, and whether I can get a volunteer to act as admin /moderator. Set some ground rules Re: language, content, taboos etc.. And set up the group. If you want to share what’s on wb – easy peasy – just take a photo. You can send the group homework, links, etc. I will definitely try some of the activities mentioned above.
    What I tend to do is send utube links to videos I’ve made that either review or introduce language that will or has been used in lessons. This way I can personalise the material to students context, and level the language too.
    Anyway, thanks for this, would be nice to have an update with more activities, perhaps sharing some of the ideas mentioned in the comments.

  5. Amazing ideas, I’m definitely going to try them out on my students. Wechat is more popular than WhatsApp in china but most if not all the ideas are transferable.

  6. Im already trying these ideas with my young and adult students. Great fun and lots of learning!! A world of thanks from Argentina!

  7. I recommend a new app, it is HIDE WHATSAPP STATUS which let you open the whatsapp and chat with people but anybody can see that you are on line or your last conexion. It is easy to install, just 5MB and it doesn’t disconex mobile data! NICE APP 🙂

  8. It’s really interesting and innovative
    To use the available material is the best tool of learning. I think students want to learn and we have to teach but I hear complaints from teachers that students are not interested in learning. It’s not true we most of the time fail to make it interesting. For that this this is the answer and the best answer

  9. I’m from Brasil and my English in intermediate. If someone want to practice with me my whatsapp is 55 86 98094489

  10. One thing that Whatsapp lacks is the function of generating QR code for users to scan and join a group, which is available at WeChat. Without this function, it is a bit difficult to create bigger groups. But users can send messages to strangers without authorization, which is better than WeChat.

    Overall, WhatsApp needs to offer more features specifically designed for classroom teachers in order to make it more useful for education, e.g. integration with Moodle or Blackboard; API for third party developers.

  11. […] are here to stay.The multitude of articles and blog posts providing ideas on using mobile phones, WhatsApp or talking about mobile learning attest to […]

  12. Thanks Philip, Really like the accompanying graphics.
    How do you check whether the students did the assignment if it is just between two partners?

  13. I’ve used it with elementary school pupils and it worked very well. It was great and they loved keeping in touch with each other and enjoyed using the language they had learnt. Highly motivating for sure. Loved it myself, as their enthusiasm was very infectious.

  14. That is such a good programe using whatsapp, could you let me in to know for more ? Are this free or what? Thanks.
    Btw i m from indonesia.

  15. If there any such group then i would like to join to learn …please add my no..+91-9650601704

  16. Hello! could you add me on your what’s up group. I’m from Senegal and my number is 00221 77 354 07 88.

  17. So interesting, thank you for all this innovative ideas, I wasn’t aware of this good use of technology for learning aims until I reached the Unit of Advances in sciences and technology. I’ve already set a Facebook group for my students. I just want to know whether we can have some friends Group from England or Us for the Bac level all streams (literature & sciences). Thanks for feeding me back to my email [email protected] with regards! Ihssan, high school teacher of English from Morocco.

  18. hi everybody! i wanna improve my english! by chatting in whatsapp this is my phone number 89056777785?

  19. another idea of mine is that utilizing WA for reading games. this could be used as warming up/reviewing the previous lesson.

    I simply print a simple paragraph and share it to each student. afterwards, they race to type the paragraph on their WA and send it to my number/group as soon as they finish typing it.

  20. Liked the Idea in general and the ideas mentioned are great. Will try to figure out how I can give it a go in my classes. A pleasure to contemplate on these lines. Thank You.

  21. Great. I have come across this site by chance. I feel greatly impressed; consequently I’m going to arrange for a workshop with my fellow teachers to discuss the possibility of implementing this in their classes.
    Gamal Hamza,
    supervisor of English
    Egypt

  22. Hey, lovely ideas, I’m also a teacher and I really liked the icons of the different types of exercises and I’d love to adopt them.
    Is there any copyright restriction?
    Can I use icons and also concentrate the excellent ideas and send them to my teachers?
    Thanks
    eti

  23. Great ideas. In the school-free time because of Corona it can be a good idea to keep in contact.

  24. […] Whatsapp is actually quite an undervalued teaching platform. You can share and find links, videos and photos easily, provide audio support to all texts, correct students work using the draw function and use the emojis to illustrate vocabulary. You can also upload documents, have audio recorded conversations and even video call to up to eight people. Plus, when your aim is to get students to read and write in English, Whatsapp encourages them to type messages to each other and respond. […]

  25. thanks .. I found it very useful … can I translate this to my local language and take print out ?

  26. Hello, this articel is very useful especially for the students like me, this will surely help them using WhatsApp with English Languages. All the 25 ideas were mind-blowing and super useful. Thanks for sharing such as great and useful piece of article.

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