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“Phones in the Classroom”



Pre-Listening Question

What are the advantages and disadvantages of students having phones in the classroom?

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

(something) comes up (verb): something is mentioned in a conversation
– It is always nice to have a phone, so you can contact family and friends if something important comes up.

Google something (verb): search using Google
– If you have questions about the city, just Google it. You’ll find something.

back in the day (expression): talk about a time in the past, once upon a time
Back in the day, I used to go to the library to look up information, but I do most of my research online.

drawback (noun): disadvantage
– Getting distracted on your phone in class is one of the drawbacks of having a phone in class.

cryptic (adjective): having a meaning that is mysterious or not easy to understand
– I sometimes don’t understand her text messages. They are somewhat cryptic.

deprive someone of having something (verb): prevent someone of something
– There are times when having a phone can be an emotional support to a person in times of distress, for instance, when I family member is in the hospital. In such cases, I wouldn’t want to deprive a person of the ability to communicate with loved ones.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: Okay, Aubrey, let’s get into a deeper topic about phones in the classroom. Aubrey, what do you think about the disadvantages and then the advantages of having phones in the classroom? And we can talk about, you know, in elementary school, junior high, high school, and college, and beyond.

Aubrey: Yeah. So like, especially in a college setting, um, sometimes something will come up in class and it’ll be like, okay, I’m not quite sure what the answer is. Can someone Google it for me real quick? You know, someone pull out your phone. Um, I’ve also been in classrooms where, you know, they do those interactive presentations. So it’s kind of like a quiz. And you answer the quiz on your cell phone.

Randall: On your phone. Yeah.

Aubrey: Mhm. I remember back in the day, you know, when we had the T9 keys. Um, because it’s all by touch, you people would just text under their desks.

Randall: So you mentioned a couple of benefits, but let’s talk about some drawbacks or some cons to having smartphones or any type of phone in the classroom.

Aubrey: Yeah, I mean, it definitely can be distracting. Um, I mean, people being on, well, I guess the kids aren’t on Facebook anymore, but social media. You know, texting, friends, you know, all sorts of things. It can be a distraction. But I think overall, it’s better to have it than not.

Randall: Long. What about cheating? Because a lot of times people might be concerned about that.

Aubrey: Yeah. So, I mean, I guess cheating is a thing at when I went to university, which I graduated from recently, uh, when you go into the testing center, you have to turn off your phone and remove your smartwatch.

Randall: Oh, wow.

Aubrey: Which so that you can’t cheat. You also aren’t allowed to have like a water bottle either. So I really feel like they need to sell those so you can have an approved water bottle.

Randall: Because I guess people could have the the, you know, answers inside the water bottle kind of floating on the surface or something like that. You never know.

Aubrey: Maybe part of the nutrition label, I don’t know.

Randall: You never know. Yeah, they can come up with very cryptic ways of doing it. But I also I know for me personally, my philosophy and thoughts on the use of smartphones in the classroom has really evolved and changed where in the past I always viewed it as a distraction. Students must be doing this and this. They must be texting, you know, their friends playing on, you know, social media or whatever. And then I realized that there can be times where a student is using a smartphone as a dictionary. But also, what about the situation where a student has found out that maybe a family member is in the hospital and they just received notice by text message

Aubrey: Yeah.

Randall: and now they’re frantically trying to find out more information.

Aubrey: Yeah. So like I said, I think there’s more good than bad. On a serious note, um, living in the United States, I would never deprive a child of a cell phone in school. Because that might be the last time they have to communicate with their family in the event of a school shooting.

Randall: You just don’t know.

Aubrey: I would never take that away from a kid. Yeah, you just don’t know.

Randall: Right. I just tend to have become more gracious towards the use of smartphones, not only from a pedagogical standpoint, it’s easy to administer things, but like you just mentioned, there can be times where in times of anxiety or whatever, having a smart device at least available, uh, can prove, uh, very important in people’s lives. All right. Well, thank you, Aubrey, for sharing your thoughts on the use of smartphones or any type of phone in the classroom.

Conversation Questions


  1. What is the conversation mainly about?
  2. Why does Aubrey mention using phones in a college setting?
  3. According to Aubrey, what are some benefits of having phones in the classroom?
  4. What are some drawbacks or cons of having phones in the classroom, according to Aubrey?
  5. Why does Aubrey think it’s better to have phones in the classroom despite the distractions they may cause?
  6. What does Aubrey mention about cheating in university?
  7. How has Randall’s perspective on smartphones in the classroom evolved over time?
  8. What examples does Aubrey give to support the idea that smartphones can be used as educational tools?
  9. Why does Aubrey think it’s important to allow children to have cell phones in school in the United States?
  10. How does Aubrey respond to Randall’s concern about cheating in exams?


  1. Analyze the different viewpoints expressed by Randall and Aubrey regarding the use of smartphones in the classroom. How do their perspectives align or differ?
  2. Evaluate the argument made by Aubrey regarding the importance of allowing children to have cell phones in school in the United States. What evidence does she provide to support her claim?
  3. Discuss the ethical considerations surrounding the use of smartphones in the classroom, considering both the potential benefits and drawbacks mentioned in the conversation.
  4. Reflect on the potential impact of smartphones on traditional modes of learning and teaching. How might the integration of smartphones in the classroom shape pedagogical approaches?
  5. Synthesize the ideas presented in the conversation and develop a well-reasoned argument either in favor of or against the use of smartphones in the classroom. Support your argument with evidence and examples.

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.

Try More Free Listening at