As there is no reference to the use of technology to meet the demands of the new languages programmes of study for key stage three, I thought it would be helpful to make some suggestions on some of the requirements included for those who have to follow them as well as those interested in trying out some new ideas.
In the opening paragraph of the programme of study, we are asked to “provide opportunities … to communicate for practical purposes as well as enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing”. It seems to me setting up an eTwinning project via the British Council would be a perfect vehicle for facilitating this. Registration on etwinning.net is free and teachers can search for like-minded colleagues to collaborate with using the recently updated Twinspace or share ideas through third party tools such as blogs or Skype. Have a look at the Global Enterprise Challenge too if you are interested in forging international links with schools abroad and working on a common purpose. Having an audience for written and spoken work tends to engage young people and makes their learning real and more purposeful as a result.
The first aim of the new national curriculum for languages states that all pupil should “understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources”. Flipboard, as I wrote about in my first blog post in this series, is a quick and efficient way of collecting web links and turning them into a stylish personalised magazine. By using the cross platform app to create a magazine and then the bookmarklet to curate articles, it is easy to build up a set of themed authentic resources for any given topic and share them with your students via a single link. Language teachers will be delighted to know that by going to Settings in the app and changing International Content Guides to a different country, you can search for articles in the language of that country and add them to your magazine.
Pinterest is another amazing resource for finding authentic articles which you can pin to different boards according to theme and use in lessons. Like Flipboard, I find the Pinterest bookmarklet invaluable for pinning articles I come across and storing them conveniently in the same place. If you are looking for authentic photos, I would suggest searching for Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr and then pinning them directly on Pinterest from the web interface so you always have them at your fingertips for promoting intercultural understanding or for the basis of a multimedia project.
For creating listening comprehension exercises from authentic YouTube clips you could use EdPuzzle or Educanon which work across different devices too and offer immediate feedback. You could also embed a YouTube clip into a Google Form and use the inbuilt action script Flubaroo to mark the answers for you automatically.
Another aim concerns getting students to “speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity”. There are various ways in which technology can help in this regard. Firstly, pupils can record their presentations or dialogues using Audacity on PC or Mac, the web based Vocaroo or with an app like Voice Record Pro on an iPad as many times as they like which can boost their confidence as they know they can always try again if they are not happy with the results. By reading a script scrolling up the screen while they are recording they can make themselves sound more fluent too using the site CuePrompter or the VisioPrompt app. They can also choose the speed at which the text scrolls meaning they are able to differentiate accordingly.
Apps such as Yakit Kids or ChatterPix Kids and the website Voki.com are good for giving children confidence in their speaking too as they can create an avatar and play a role rather than be themselves something which shyer learners may prefer. To encourage more spontaneous language in the classroom, you could use the app Decide Now! or Wheel Decide to randomly choose a topic from a list or opening phrase. To increase challenge and competition, you could award points for each option with the more difficult phrases gaining more points. Learners could also collect useful expressions they can incorporate into any conversations on their own Padlet wall and produce them when appropriate.
The importance of learning grammar and vocabulary is clearly laid out in the new programmes of study and technology can certainly help here too. Creating screencasts with apps like ScreenChomp or Explain Everything are effective ways of conveying grammar points or reinforcing vocabulary particularly when they are accessible online 24/7 and can be used for promoting independent learning in a flipped classroom model. When you publish a Screenchomp it is hosted privately by default meaning it doesn’t appear in a public gallery. With Explain Everything, you can publish natively to YouTube or to Google Drive. I would recommend uploading to Google Drive and enabling “Link sharing is ON” as this means the video is hosted privately and can be accessed via a QR code making it perfect for displays or aide-memoires in exercise books. You could also save a PowerPoint as a video and host that in Google Drive in the same way.
Google Drive and in particular Google Docs are great for promoting collaborative writing too and offer the possibility of commenting on work. Documents can be shared by adding different gmail addresses or shared privately via a link meaning anyone can anonymously add to the same document. Docs could be useful for creative writing tasks, translation exercises and dictation depending on how they were set up. Other good tools for writing are TodaysMeet, Padlet and TitanPad and are certainly worth checking out. For testing grammar awareness or vocabulary, have a look at Socrative, NearPod, and the new kid on the block ClassKick!
Another requirement of the new national curriculum for languages is to “develop creative expression”. There are many ways of achieving this on the iPad. For example for presenting a poem, you could create a background image with the Pic Collage app incorporating relevant photos or key words generated by the Word Clouds app. You could then save this composite image to the camera roll, import it into Tellagami, add a voiceover and save as a video. Next you could post the clip into the Book Creator app and add the text of the poem. Finally, if you had the full version of the app, you could ask everyone to share their books with you via AirDrop or Google Drive then combine them together into a bumper book of poetry!
Other good apps and tools for creative writing include WordFoto, Cloudart and TagCloud as well as Wordle and Tagxedo. If you’d like to know more about how different web tools or apps can be used to enhance language learning why not come along to my course Multimedia language learning on the iPad and Listen, Speak, Read, Write Web and explore the possibilities further.
I’ll be at The Language Show too for all three days starting this Friday so come over and say hi if you are there!