"Chromebooks for Beginning ESL," -- Video and discussion with ESL teacher, Coordinator and Subject Matter Expert, Alisa Takeuchi

Hello Integrating Technology Colleagues,

In June I called your attention to OTAN Tech Talks, 12 free adult basic skills (several for adult ESL teachers) professional development videos, most of which are under 30 minutes. On Thursday, December 12th, and Friday, December 13th, we will have an opportunity to chat with Alisa Takeuchi here about the OTAN TTT professional development video she made called “Chromebooks for Beginning ESL.” This video, available here, is less than 13 minutes long. Please look at it before Thursday, December 12th, and post your questions for Alisa here as soon as you can. Incidentally, in the video, Alisa asks you to consider: why you want to use Chromebooks, or more hands-on technology with your students, and what you think will be the challenges.  Feel free to respond to these questions once our discussion begins on Thursday, December12th.

The video has the following parts:

1. Objectives and planning

2. Execution

3. Hindsight (reflections)

4. Apps, Extensions and Websites

Here’s a short bio that Alisa has written for us:

My name is Alisa Takeuchi, and I currently teach Beginning Literacy ESL to adults at Lincoln Education Center in Garden Grove, CA. I have been teaching adults for over 22 years, and I started my ESL career in Seoul, South Korea, teaching there for 5 years. In 2003, I helped start the EL Civics program at our agency and eventually became the Coordinator. In 2016, I started working with one of the three California state leadership programs Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN) as a Subject Matter Expert. (SME) This job allows me to present at numerous conferences, workshops, and trainings teaching teachers and support staff in Adult Education how to use more technology in the classroom and at their school site. Bringing more technology to students is my passion. I believe that all students can gain English language proficiency through tech skills to help diminish some of the many barriers they already face, and I create lessons to help them reach their goals. All students at any English level can benefit from more computer literacy, but this holds especially true at the beginning level.

I look forward to having you join in on this discussion whether you are a new or experienced Chromebook user or just curious.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


I am so excited to be a part of this discussion group. I am looking forward to sharing with you my experiences and thoughts with all of you. Using technology in the classroom can be tough, especially if you, as the teacher, are not very confident in your computer skills. Not to worry, though. The lessons that I've created for my students could easily be used for anyone that needs computer literacy- regardless of  English language literacy. 

Thanks Alisa,

We're excited to have you join us.

Everyone: Watch “Chromebooks for Beginning ESL” now. Available here, the video is less than 13 minutes long. Please look at it before Thursday, December 12th, and post your questions for Alisa here as soon as you can.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Thank you, David and Alisa. In watching the video, I jotted down several good ideas to implement on computers in general, in addition to ChromeBook. [Not Google Chrome as originally posted]   I work with an Adult Ed program on a nearby NA Reservation that has very advanced technology available to its students. Students at this Learning Center vary in academic ability. They are native speakers, of course, but with far more extensive abilities in their native-language and more limited vocabulary in English. Most are there to complete GEDs in order to pursue Health Careers through a grant-funded project.    The program has just asked me about a typing program that students could practice on their own in their computer lab. I certainly knew about Mavis Beacon from way back, but it is cost-based. I now plan to recommend typing.com to them. I tried it out and found it easy to follow. I would prefer that the site introduced the app to students in a more adult and multicultural/multiracial way, but the activities seem easy enough to engage learners after that. I will also recommend that the AE program try out kahoot.com and Mercury Reader.    Your ideas on using Gmail to promote writing reminds me of my absolute awe and enthusiasm when the Internet, even prior to Web 2.0, emerged!!! (That dates me. I know.) I couldn't believe it!  The first thing I did was to schedule ESL students from all of my college classes to go with me to the lab, create school accounts, and start "talking" to each other and to me. Magic! Heaven! I had to provide a lot of guidance and structure among beginning students, of course.:) Leecy

All a Chromebook/box/base/bit is is the Chrome browser sitting on top of a Linux OS. When you log into a Chrome device, it brings you directly into the Chrome browser. Some Chrome devices now let you install Android apps from Google Play, but, except for that, once you're in the Chrome browser, it's the same experience you'd have in the browser in Windows, OS X, Linux, IOS, or Android. Because of its simplicity, the Chrome OS is great for introducing newbies into computers, but it's important to remember that the browser (Chrome) is independent of the hardware (Chromebook) it's sitting on.Confounding the browser, which runs on multiple operating systems and devices with a particular device can create barriers to future learning and computer usage. Taking into account the section on using the touchpad, the video was really about using the Chrome browser on any laptop, not just a Chromebook. Take out the part on the touchpad, and it's about using the Chrome browser on any device. There are a lot of similarities across so-called "different" computer systems. Let's not make things more complicated than they need to be. There's enough for ESOL learners to deal with as it is.

All the marketing hype makes things seem 100 times more complicated than they really are. This is not good for learners or the people trying to teach them. The browser is the entry point into the online tools. It doesn't matter what device or OS is running the browser. If you know one browser, you know them all. The focus should be on the tools and what they are supposed to help you do, not on how you get to them.

Hello Robert,

Can you suggest a few good online software resources that you believe would help practitioners and adult learners understand the Chrome browser's capacity to be helpful for adults, especially low-literate adults, learning how to use it. For example, you mentioned that one can install Android apps from Google Play. Have you used free or inexpensive apps that the adult learners you work with have found engaging or helpful? Can you suggest a few?  Are there free videos that your adult learners have found helpful as they learn to use the Chrome browser? Which ones? I know you have a lot of experience in this area. Thanks for any help you can provide to other adult basic skills practitioners who themselves are new, or whose students are new, to the Chrome browser or to the Chromebooks that use it.

Everyone, if you haven't looked at Alisa Takeuchi's Chromebooks video yet, please do. It's only 13 minutes long. Alisa will join us to answer your questions on Thursday and Friday this week. You are welcome to post your questions and comments for Alisa now through Friday, December 13th.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group.

Because dealing with the needs of a mother with advanced dementia has made me too unreliable to tutor at the moment, my contributions to my program are limited to managing the website and providing ad hoc technical support. Also, because this is a poor rural area with limited Internet access, having a classroom with adequate (if any) Internet access and enough Chromebooks for the learners to use isn’t going to happen.

That said, in the past I’ve downloaded websites and had learners navigate them on antiquated desktops, and I have a lot of personal experience, so I feel I can contribute something others in the group can use.

So, If I lived in a perfect world where I had access to a real classroom, with all the bandwidth I needed, and a new Chromebook for each learner, how would I use the Chromebooks with a class of beginning, low-literate ESL adults?

(1) Create a gmail account to use specifically for that class.
(2) Because the Chromebooks will undoubtedly be used for other classes, use the gmail account for that class to create a separate user account on the Chromebook for that class. (You can create up to 5 user accounts on a Chromebook.)
(3) On each Chromebook, log in to the class account, click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser window and select “Settings” from the menu, turn on synching, and select “Encrypt synched passwords . . .” under “Sync and Google services.”  This will synchronize bookmarks, saved passwords, and a few other things across all Chrome browsers signed in to that account. In other words, adding or deleting a bookmark on any of the synched Chromebooks will add or delete it on all the others.
(4) On any of the Chromebooks, bookmark Youtube videos, typing websites, etc. I want the learners to use in class. When Chrome asks if you want to save the login information, say yes. (Create user ids and passwords I wouldn’t mind having stolen.)
(5) Especially for sites that require logins, even if they’re free, test to see if multiple computers can log in to the same account at the same time. If not, have the learners use the site in shifts or set up multiple logins.
(6) In the classroom, have the learners log in and click on the bookmark for the site we’ll be using.
(7) We’re done with the browser, so we can focus on the content of the site, which is the real purpose of using the Chromebook.

My original post was spurred by Leecy's comment that she "jotted down several good ideas to implement on computers in general, in addition to ChromeBook."

Programs like mine do not have the luxury of buying a block of Chromebooks to use in a classroom. Even if we had readily available Internet with adequate bandwidth, we'd at best be using a combination of donated, used desktops and laptops running a variety of operating systems. Because the Chrome browser is the heart of Chromebooks, any computer capable of running the latest version of Chrome can be used as a Chromebook. Learners would have to go through a few extra steps to launch the browser (which may make it a little more intimidating to computerphobes), and third-party extensions such as Mercury Reader (which may disappear because Google is incorporating that functionality into Chrome), but, otherwise, everything browser-related would work the same.

Hi Robert! Thank you so much for your articulate and informational comment. I absolutely see what you're saying regarding how most of the information on the video is laptop related, not necessarily Chromebook related. The skills and websites are indeed transferable, but since our program uses desktops and Chromebooks (which many of the programs I work with do) that was the topic of my 20 minute Tech Talk. In addition, when I do this presentation live, it is only a small part of what is being taught. I demonstrate how to break down each step of getting logged into the computer with pictures, very simple vocabulary, and sentences. I show how to create an actual hardcopy of any account that needs to be created so that students can write down the information and I can check their accuracy before they even type it. Even just how to take the Chromebooks out of the cart and back into it needs to be explained prior to practice. Those are all skills and information that can be used for any CoW. So yes, while the video is about my experience with actual Chromebooks, the information could be used for any laptop. Thanks again for your comments.

Hello Leecy, and others who may be interested in free online typing programs,

For many years I have kept and updated a list of adult basic skills-related, mostly free software called the Literacy List. In it is a page of over 20 free typing/keyboarding software programs and apps, that are possibly suitable for adult basic skills students. You might have a look at them, Leecy, for your NA students. I don't believe that any are contextualized to Native American adult learner groups, but you might find one that is more suitable for adults. Typing.com is on the list that you will find here.

Everyone, if you review this list and find that a free online typing/keyboarding program you have successfully used with adult learners is not on it, please email me at djrosen123@gmail.com and I'll consider adding it. Most of the free keyboarding skills websites on this list have been recommended by adult basic skills practitioners.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Hi Leecy, I'm glad you brought up typing.com from the video. Since my project and making the video over a year and a half ago, I now use Typingclub.com with my students. I still like typing.com-don't get me wrong, but what I like about typingclub.com is that students can type in the URL and click Get Started and start typing. There is no account to set up. Of course their work won't be saved, but teachers can create an account and set up a classroom, if they wish, but if students just want to practice typing on their own, they can do so easily. There are videos to watch and a hand guide to show where students should place their hands. It is very user-friendly.  Take a look and see if you like it. Alisa

Hello Colleagues,

Today (Thursday, December 12th) and tomorrow we have the pleasure to have Alisa Takeuchi with us to answer our questions about the 12-minute OTAN professional development video in which she presented how she used Chromebooks with her beginning level English language students. I have some questions for her that you will see below. I hope you have had a chance to view the video and have some questions, too. Thanks to  Leecy Wise and Robert Wessel, who have already viewed the video and commented. I hope other teachers will join in with their comments and questions, too.

Here are some questions today for Alisa, who may not be able to join us for a few hours as she lives in California where it's three hours earlier than where I am, in Massachusetts. 

1.    Integrating technology group member Conzolo Migliozzi posted here a few years ago about teachers’ experience with class sets of Chromebooks or tablets. He asked, “How did it go? What apps are teachers using? What issues are you running into?” and added, “I'm primarily concerned with breakage. I know how many miles we get out of a desktop. No idea on a Chromebook or tablet.”   Alisa, do you have any thoughts to add?

2.    LINCS CoP member Kip Bromley wrote in August this year, “We are just about to roll out a classroom set of 20 chromebooks to use in all our ESL/ESOL classes - Beginning, Intermediate, and advanced levels. We are looking to use the computers and the technology as a springboard to new vocabulary, pronunciation--as well as a way to prepare learners to be more tech savvy employees with greater options for employment. I will keep you posted as to how it goes.  We are having a bit of a hiccup rolling them out as our adults don't have district email addresses needed to log in to our access points, so code is being written to allow these non-district email addresses to be able to log on to our secure network.  They are concerned about security.  I would love to hear other ideas for technology implementation through Chromebooks or otherwise.”

3.    Alisa, you wrote in your introduction here,  “All students at any English level can benefit from more computer literacy, but this holds especially true at the beginning level.”  Can you tell us why this is especially true at the beginning level?

From the Video:


1.    What’s an LEC Gmail account mentioned in slide 3?  Is LEC Lincoln Education Center, where you work?

2.    It looks like you changed the objectives you had planned for this video. When did you change them and why? 

3.    It doesn’t appear that you have used any Chromebook “how to” videos, for example from YouTube. Have you looked at these? Do you use them now for introducing your students to Chromebooks? If not, why not?

4.    Have you revised any of the PowerPoint slides or worksheets you made to introduce Chromebooks to your students? Are these available on a website for others to use? Are any of these Open Education Resources (OER’s) ?

5.    Could you explain what we are looking at in the example slide that has two forms, a completed one on the left with your information as the end result, and, on the right, a blank form for students to write on? How is the information collected on this form used?

Thanks. Looking forward to a great conversation with you Alisa!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management Groups

First of all, I want to say hello to everyone and thank you for coming on here to learn about my experience using Chromebooks in a Beginning Literacy ESL classroom. Sorry for the delay, I just finished my morning class and have one more class this evening. 

As far as the "turn around" time for Chromebooks-- Google's official statement for lifespan is 5 years from release date... not purchase date. Your Chromebook will receive Chrome OS at least 5 years. As far as the physical machine- it really depends on quality and usage. We've had our Chromebooks for about 3 years and we haven't had one problem with any of them. (We bought 300 of them) In our District Tech Plan, computers and tech devices are upgraded or serviced every 5 years. That seems to be the case with many of the agencies I've worked with in CA.   I don't anticipate that the Chromebooks shall suddenly start breaking at the 5-year mark, but I'll let you know if it does. Thanks for the question. 

The number I have is seven years, but you are correct.

I made a similar comment a few months ago in this thread: https://community.lincs.ed.gov/discussion/teaching-basic-literacy-or-beginning-eslesol-level-adults-how-use-chromebooks.

Another thing to consider is that although there are some very expensive Chromebooks out there, for most users, once the cost of a Chromebook reaches that of a decent Windows laptop, you might be better off buying the Windows laptop instead of the Chromebook. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the Chrome browser is the heart of the Chromebook and any computer that can run a Chrome browser is essentially a Chromebook plus the added capabilities of that computer.

I completely understand your situation, Kip. I hope since August, your district was able to resolve your issues. On our Chromebooks, we have a Login as Guest, which is common for a lot of agencies who don't provide district email addresses to students. This has it's pros and cons. Pro: students can access and use the Chromebooks provided in the classrooms. Con: Nothing will be saved. The alternative is if students have a Gmail account and the district allows login from that, then all extensions, add-ons, etc will be saved to their account. *Disclaimer: Some districts have firewalls for certain websites or genres and will be blocked from usage.

As far as implementation, each level has it's own agenda of what they use them for. The higher ESL levels are using them more and more for EL Civics Assessments and Presentations. The lower ESL levels use them for vocabulary and supplemental help. 

OTAN (Outreach and Technical Assistance Network) has a plethora of resources educators can use with helpful step-by-step guides on many different sites. The website is www.otan.us and it can be extremely useful for you. Also, OTAN has its own YouTube channel where you can watch all the Tech Talks on different subjects. I hope that helps.

Hello everyone! In reference to the slide with the two forms, these were the examples I used with my students on how I wanted them to fill out their information to create a Gmail account. On the left is the completed example (with my information) and the right is the blank given to them as a hardcopy to actually write their information. I check their papers and then when they are ready to type in the information online, they have exactly the same form so they can easily transfer. I do this for any form students need to fill out. I highly recommend it. It saves a lot of time and running around.

For me personally, I have watched many, many videos on Chromebooks. As far as for my students, I always create my own material. I steal ideas from others, of course, but then I tweak my presentations, worksheets, etc to fit for my students. Google is constantly changing, and so I try to keep up with updates as much as possible. Even how to create a Gmail has been revised a few times in the last 2 years because they change the form periodically. Many times, YouTube videos are not updated and so the material being watched is out of date. 

Hi Alisa,

Thanks so much for your great answers to my questions. I hoped you might have questions from others too, but so far, not many.

I was especially interested in your answer to my question about using videos to teach students about how to use Chromebooks, or applications on Chromebooks. I didn't realize that the applications change so frequently, that the videos don't keep pace with them, and that teachers have to create their own materials for their students. This is eye-opening, at least for me, and another great reminder about how much teachers are needed, that they won't easily be replaced by AI or robots, and that the more complex the world gets, the more we all need each other to help sort out that complexity. I wonder if you encourage your students to learn from each other when some students have already learned how to navigate an application that has been recently updated, if this is one way to have students learn when and how to help each other?

And here are some more questions for you about the video:


  1. It looks like you took notes after the first day of what you did and how the lesson went. Did you do that after every Chromebooks lesson? Do you have any advice for teachers about taking notes when they are trying something new with technology?
  2. Can you tell us in more detail about what you have learned works best when getting students who are new to email their first Gmail account? Do you still use the “How to Create a Gmail” PowerPoint slides and worksheet? Can you make these available?
  3. Do you still like Typing.com? Are there other typing programs you would recommend for beginnings ESL students?
  4. You mentioned that you emailed hangouts to your students where you could chat with them on the spot. Can you tell us more about how you use hangouts in class, and, if you do, outside of class?
  5. How did you/do you deal with the challenges many students learning English have with typing skills?
  6. There are a few slides with photos at 9 minutes into the video. Could you tell us what some of the students’ uses were of email that are depicted in these slides?


  1. Could you tell us about your teaching paradigm when you teach students about new technology? Are you an expert in technology the way you and other ESL teachers are experts in teaching English? After you do a presentation, for example a PowerPoint presentation, do all the students always address their questions to you, or do they sometimes seek help from others? If so, how do you feel about that? Do you encourage peer support?  If so, why?
  2. When you wrote in your reflections that “students helped each other and built trust” could you give us some examples? Did they build trust in others, trust in themselves, or both?


  1. Can you tell us more about Google Tone, Mercury Reader, and Read and Write for Chrome? I think many of our members may not know about these tools. Are any of these free? For example, do you use Google Chrome to send a URL to all the students using Chromebooks in your class or lab? When they get the URL is it automatically placed in their Chrome URL bar?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups



It's been my pleasure reading the comments and questions from you and others on this platform. With all the great questions, I decided to tackle this one first. All of the extensions listed are free. They are Google products and anyone can get them at the Chrome Web Store. 

Google Tone: This extension allows a person to send a URL via sound to any device with Google Tone installed and within range for the sound to be heard. This is convenient if you have a very long and/or complicated URL that you would like to share quickly. On any given website, the sender chooses the Tone icon at the top of the screen, and any device that picks up the sound will get a message that a Tone has been sent. The receiver chooses to accept the Tone and they are immediately directed to the sender's intended website.

Mercury Reader: This is an excellent extension for those who would like to clean up the clutter on a particular website; especially articles. Once Mercury Reader is installed, select a web-based article or Reading Comprehension story, choose the Mercury Reader icon, then all the ads surrounding the writing disappears. This is nice for a couple of reasons: Students with low-level literacy skills may be too aggressive with a mouse or touchpad and will inadvertently click on ads or offers and end up down a virtual rabbit hole. Mercury Reader eliminates that. Also, if a teacher wants to print any particular reading for students, it prints as a much cleaner version without wasting paper and ink. 

Read and Write: This extension is a great tool with not only web-based articles but also with Google Docs and Slides. Once installed, a toolbar with many different options appears. There is a dictionary, a picture dictionary, a text-to-speech option, and so much more. The nice thing about the text-to-speech is that it is a much more natural-sounding voice than ones used before. There is also a speech-to-text feature to be used in Docs and Slides. 

Each extension, add-on, and application must be installed in every account. All the tools follow the account, not the device. If I install an extension on my Chromebook at home, I will see that extension on my friend's desktop when I log into my Chrome account at their house. I don't need to remember my flash drive or bring my computer everywhere I go. I just log into my Chrome account anywhere that has Internet access, and everything I need and have worked on is there. 

These are just a few of the hundreds of Extensions and Add-ons available. Again, go to www.otan.us for help, suggestions, and how-tos on many more that have been tried and used by instructors. 

I would highly encourage teachers to take notes; especially after using technology for the first time with their students...especially the hindsight. For example, I wish I would have taught my students key vocabulary: Backspace, Space Bar, Enter, etc. Also about teaching them how to put the Chromebooks away. This helped me redevelop my Introduction presentation. Also, taking photos as notes was helpful to me. I was able to share these photos with my students and they were so proud and happy. Some had never touched a computer prior to coming to school, so for them to develop tech skills was reaching a goal for them. 

Some key things to remember when helping any student use new technology: patience. No matter how much preparation you give them, some students will just not be able to execute certain skills and tasks with any ease. After getting Gmail accounts, using them over and over helped the students acquire any sense of familiarity. How to Create a Gmail Account presentation is still being used and available for anyone. Please contact me directly for it. 

Thanks, Alisa for your great answers to our questions. I hope you might be able to remain a member of the Integrating Technology group and contribute to other discussions that may interest you.

Everyone, this discussion about Chromebooks and the Chrome browser can continue. If you have experience in, and reflections about, using Chromebooks with adult learners, let's hear from you. Also if you have questions, as a new or experienced user, these are welcome, too!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups