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Laptop Computer The idols of the nations are silicon and code, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see, ears, but cannot hear. Those who make them, will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.- Psalm 135:15-18 (BJB version) Laptop is a portable computer small enough to use in your lap. Lower prices, more sophisticated technology and greater portability mean that laptop computers are rivaling desktop computers as consumers' computers of choice, with students leading the way. Laptops are the way of the future. - Gross, Kate, Youth Studies Australia Laptops for ESL Purposes There are many ways of using a laptop computer for ESL training purposes. How to Select a Laptop Computer If you have decided on getting a laptop (notebook) computer, then you need to decide on the type of laptop computer. There are four main types of laptops.
1. All-purpose laptops – average size and not very heavy; weight - around 2 kg (accessories are not included into the weight).
2. Desktop replacement laptops - bigger than the all-purpose laptops; they have large screens and keyboards but are heavier – not for carrying around every day; weight - around 3 kg or more.
3. Ultra-portable laptops - the lightest and most portable type of laptops with small screens and tiny keyboards; they are designed for people that carry the laptop with them every day, perhaps many times a day, therefore, the portability of these laptops is very much valued - the price is higher than for the analogous features of other types of laptops; weight – around 1 kg or less.
4.Rugged Laptops or rugged notebooks. They are more expensive than ordinary computers but are designed to work in any environment and in any location, even under severe weather conditions. They are water, dust and shock proof and are approximately twenty times stronger than the ordinary plastic laptops. They are ideal for travelers. If you are preparing to travel and teach English in a remote village school of a developing country, which is most probably tropical and humid, rugged laptop would be an ideal solution. Rugged laptops are further subdivided into fully rugged, semi-rugged and tablets.
Making a Decision The great thing about a computer notebook is that no matter how much you stuff into it, it doesn't get bigger or heavier. - Bill Gates If you decided to get a laptop computer you need to think about how often you will be carrying the computer. If you will carry it every day, you should buy an ultra-portable laptop. If you will not be carrying it often - buy a desktop replacement laptop. If you do not know how often you will be carrying it, we would suggest buying an all-purpose laptop. When you have decided which type of laptop you want, you should decide on the brand. Some people feel so confused when it comes to buying a computer, particularly their first computer, that they do not want to make a decision by themselves and would just prefer that someone tells them what to get so they can blame them later. There are many famous computer companies such as Acer, HP, AST, Compaq, CTX, Dell, Everex, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Micron, Quantex, Swan, Toshiba, Zenith, Zenon, Samsung, Sony, Sharp and a few more. Most busy ESL teachers say that Toshiba is Windows 8 is the best (and the latest). It is more expensive than most other brands but you get what you pay for. Toshiba is a famous Japanese company with relatively long history and experience of majoring in laptops, and its products seldom cause problems. Toshiba in the industry of computers is like BMW in the car industry or like Canon in the camera world. Mac is another option if you have a lot of money. HP would be another good option. The quality of HP laptops has considerably increased over the past two years although they have been concentrating basically on printers. Their printers are of very high quality. Sony laptop would also be a good decision. Sony computers are often considered as the most stylish and the best looking laptops available at reasonable prices, although Play Stations account for most of the profit of Sony. For schools all-purpose Dell, Windows Vista is very suitable. Dell is a large company that offers good warranty conditions and is excellent value for students, especially when large schools buy at wholesale prices. Also, your students may find some good deals in refurbished laptops. You should know the difference between refurbished and reconditioned laptops. A refurbished laptop is usually an older laptop that has been used and then reconditioned, often by a third party, and offered at a discount price with warranty. A reconditioned laptop means that it had a problem, went back to the manufacturer, got fixed and now it is offered at a discount price with warranty. You can order such laptops online. Students / schools should consider buying refurbished or reconditioned laptops. Good savings for students and their parents. Having decided which brand to buy (consider also the colour), you need to settle on the specifications that you want for the laptop. Here the difficulties usually come up. Most experts advise to buy as good laptop as one can afford. Do not cut costs on the main system unit (monitor, processor, memory or disk space). If you are short of money, do not buy a printer or a software application or something that you really do not need just now. You should keep in mind that this laptop is going to last you at least three or four years and you do not want to start running out of disk space or memory in the first two months that you have it because you trimmed down the amount of memory or got a smaller hard drive so that you may possibly afford to buy the smallest and the lightest computer in the world. The computer must serve your practical purpose.
Specifications It is essential to take into consideration the following characteristics of a laptop computer before you pay money for it. Special attention should be paid to the first five characteristics mentioned below. 1. Hard Drive. Nowadays, 160 GB is sufficient for most purposes. For storing lots of video files, MP3s or JPG files you may need a higher capacity drive. Another specification often overlooked is the revolution speed of the hard drive. A 7200 RPM drive would be great.
2. Memory Size. It is recommended at least 2 GB (2,000 MB) for Windows 7 to make your laptop run smoothly. 3. Processor. Dual Core 2. Duo, 2.0 or 2.5 GHz.
4. VGA 128 / 256 MB.
5. Display Size. The LCD screen: 15.4" display for a desktop replacement laptop, a 14.1" display for an all-purpose laptop and a 12.1" display for an ultra-portable laptop.
6. Display Resolution. Higher resolution is better not only for movies and pictures, but also for websites and texts. Here is what experts recommend for most teachers: for a 15.4" display 1280x800 resolution, for a 14.1" display 1024x768 resolution, for a 12.1" display either 1024x768 or 1200x768 resolution. If you will mainly be viewing text, graphics and movies but few websites, then you would like the highest resolution available: for a 15.4” display 1920x1200, for a 15.0” display 1600x1200, and for a 14.1” display 1400x1050.
7. Battery Life and Duration. Ultra-portable laptops usually have longer battery life and duration. The battery can last for three, four, six, eight or more hours. Ask about a spare battery.
8. Optical Drive. There are four things that an optical drive can do: 1) read CDs 2) make CDs 3) read DVDs 4) make DVDs. The advantage of making CDs and DVDs is that it is an easy way to backup your data. It is recommended that you get either the one that can do #1,2,and 3 (called a CDRW/DVD Combo drive) or the one that can do all four (usually called a DVD+RW drive).
9. Internal Wireless Internet Card. Get a laptop with a wireless Internet card. Although any one is fine for accessing the Internet, for transferring files over a wireless network 802.11G is noticeably faster than 802.11B.
10. Modem. Get a laptop with an internal modem installed.
11. Video Card. A separate video card is not required for most laptops but if you do get one it is a plus.
12. Webcam. Buy a laptop with a webcam and microphone installed. You may need them for online tutoring purposes.
Essential Things to Remember Before You Buy a Laptop 1. Processor Type: Dual Core 2. Duo 2. Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz or more 3. RAM Installed Memory size: 3 GB or more 4. Hard Drive: 200 GB or more 5. Hard Drive Speed: 7200 rpm 6. VGA 256 MB 7. Operating System: Windows 8 8. Screen: 15.4" – 14.1” wide screen 9. Webcam 10. Fingerprint sensor 11. Modem: installed 12. Keyboard: clear visibility script 13. Weight (with a battery): 2 kg / 6 lbs or less 14. Warranty: International, 2 years.
A few general, common sense things
1. Do not buy a laptop with a glossy screen, unless you want to see your own image while using the laptop.
2. Choose SSD (Solid State Drive), instead of HDD (Hard Disk Drive). SSD works faster, is safer regarding information storage, works without any noise but it is more expensive than HDD. However, if you need to store a lot of information and you do not care about speed, buy HDD.
3. Dell, Acer, Asus, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba - all are good brands and there is not much difference which one you choose. The most important are specifications, i.e. it depends on what you want. To learn more, click here...
When looking for a laptop on e-Bay or any other website that sells laptops, read the description carefully, verify the shipping costs, warranty, discounts and ask any questions that you may have. A good supplier should answer all your questions. If you pay online with your credit card make sure that the payment is made securely. Hopefully, the above information was useful. However, it is not enough to have a laptop computer. It is important to study some constructive ways of using a laptop computer for teaching and learning purposes.
Laptop for ESL How to Use a Laptop Computer for ESL Teaching Purposes It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. - Albert Einstein Adult business English learners as well as many university students usually have their own laptops. If a school has wireless Internet connection – the situation is ideal for learning. First, there is no need to buy an expensive computer lab; second, students feel more confident if they have their own PCs – they can use them anywhere and at any time. Instead of purchasing an expensive computer lab it is much more reasonable to have an ordinary classroom with movable chairs and tables where students can have small group discussions and play ESL games. It will be a good idea if a school decides to get laptop computers for their students at a wholesale price: students will be grateful to the school for low cost computers and the school will save money on the costs of computer labs. Selection of a suitable learning software is also very important. Remember, the computer should be treated as just another learning tool; the focus of the lesson is effective English learning but not the computer. Is there a large lecture theatre in your school? Have you ever thought that English can be taught to the class size of 300 or more students? This can be done, from time to time, in a large lecture theatre, two or four hours per week. Students - intermediate level or higher. The teacher delivers a lecture on a certain topic - uses PowerPoint and the microphone, and the students take notes – they use their laptops for ESL learning purposes. While taking notes, the students develop the following skills: 1) active listening; 2) note-taking; 3) critical thinking; 4) typing; 5) dictionary and 6) spelling. Immediately after the lecture students email the notes to their teacher (this is done when students are still in the lecture theatre; wireless Internet should be available). Having received students’ emails, the teacher prints the students’ notes on A4 size paper, distributes hard copies to the students, and the lecture topic is discussed in consecutive smaller classes / tutorials. Many ESL teachers have been using this method and it proved to be very successful.
The lectures can be delivered on any topics that you think are useful to your students. They can be about how to lose weight, how to write a good essay, how to speak in public, how to study effectively, about travelling experience, or about how to use the Present Perfect and the Past Simple. The list of the topics is endless; it depends on the students' language level, their age and educational background.
During the last few weeks of the semester some best students can give lectures instead of the teacher. Let them learn how to use PowerPoint, microphone and other public presentation devices. Let them practice public presentation skills.
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