Back in 2005, I thought technology in language learning equated to the use of PowerPoint for whole class presentations, interactive exercises with such programs as Hot Potatoes and websites like Linguascope, Languages Online and Zut. How my views changed when I started reading about blogging in the TES, listening to podcasts produced by Mark Pentleton from the partners in excellence project in Scotland and most significantly seeing Ewan McIntosh speak at The Language Show in November of that year. At the time, Ewan was working for Learning and Teaching Scotland, spearheading the wonderful, but sadly now defunct Modern Foreign Languages Environment which amongst other things heralded the use of web 2.0 tools in enhancing language learning.

Web 2.0 or the ‘read/write web’ refers to how the internet was evolving at the time, making it far easier for consumers to create and publish multimedia content without the need of a web editor or the learning of html code to create webpages. Users could also easily interact with new technologies such as blogs and wikis by leaving comments or collaborating with others on the same webpage. Surfing the web no longer had to be a fairly passive affair, but gave people opportunities to respond to what they saw and to leave feedback.

Early adopters such as Ewan and Mark immediately saw the potential of drawing on this dynamic shift from consumption to content creation and use it in education to engage pupils. Inspired, I was happy to follow in their footsteps and start to integrate the same technologies into the classroom as well as seek out other like-minded educators who had been bitten by the web 2.0 bug too.

Seven years later, how times have changed!

Web 2.0 tools are now mainstream and have been for some time. Many MFL departments around the UK and further afield have embraced the revolution and in their latest report on modern foreign languages, Ofsted highlighted examples of good and outstanding uses of ICT which included references to blogging, recording audio and using a wiki system. Eureka!

If you would like to find out more about free web 2.0 tools and how to use them effectively, in and out of your classroom, why not come along to my practical hands-on course Listen, Speak, Read, Write Web on 9th November at the University of Westminster? There you will learn how to use a range of popular tools for` language teachers, such as Audacity, Voki, VoiceThread, Domo Animate, Wallwisher and Wordle.

Audacity is wonderful for recording and editing audio, promoting pronunciation and boosting confidence in speaking. The results of your efforts can be published on the web as a talking cartoon character or ‘Voki’, which pupils find very engaging, I find. Voicethread allows you to leave written and voice comments on images and videos you upload and is great for promoting intercultural understanding among other things.

The afternoon will focus on improving reading and writing and we will explore tried and tested tools like Domo Animate for practising role-plays, Wallwisher for creating an online noticeboard, which you can use during a plenary or as a homework task, and Wordle for making wordclouds, which are useful as a pre-reading task as a way of eliciting meaning. The day will finish with a run through of Teacher’s Pet, a free tool for MS Word which lets you create language learning exercises with a few clicks. This is great for recycling the same language in a range of exercises for paper worksheets.

Sounds useful? See you in November!