Today on our University Based Day (UBD) we are having a session on how to use computers in learning foreign languages.
The session is lead by Mr Picardo from Nottingham High School, who has an MA in Information Technology in Education.
You can see from the school’s MFL website, linked above, that they practice what they preach – there are lots of examples of the ICT stuff they have created. They can use a blog post to highlight the work done, and then ask their own children to leave comments peer assessing. They also attract lovely praising comments from the senior staff at the school, and for one memorable activity, from the author of one of the widely used Spanish textbooks.
His personal blog is here – click “Resources” for many things you can use.
To get us in the right frame of mind, he showed us this video.
(And then said… now you know you what heads of department meetings are like.)
The session included voki.com which allows you to put a voice track on a cartoon avatar. This can be used for students to record their speaking assessments in a fun way, which means you can hear speaking, you can upload the results onto a blog and you can peer assess for homework.
We looked at Storybird.com which allows students to make e-books from a text, and lets you search for beautiful pictures to illustrate the word. This can be incorporated into making a perfect draft – students write text in languages; text can be corrected by staff and then turned into a pretty final draft.
Next up was Glogster, which lets you create a multimedia poster, and embed sound and videos into things that look like posters.
Wordle.net – a tool I have already used right here on this blog! In a modern language context, you can use it to make a long text less scary in introduction – by introducing this way, and ensuring they do understand some of the key words, you can help comprehension. You can also run students’ work through it see if they are using some words too often and others too few – if you are saying “my family” every other sentence, could you instead use “my brother, my sister, my dad”? Also wonderful for classroom displays.
The final one we considered was Go Animate which allows students to make their own cartoons – which, new this year, includes the facility to record speech and make an actual production.
I’m big into ICT myself, so in addition to the sites we learned about today, I would suggest the following:
Joe Dale, a national leader in modern languages and ICT, who has a blog.
In particular, he pointed me at a group of language teacher users of twitter who call themselves the MFL Twitterati, who arrange regular meetups and generally share good and interesting stuff.
The Twitterati sent me to Triptico, a lovely set of pretty tools for use in the classroom including timers, name pickers, ordering tool, hourglass, and a really fast word magnet tool that lets you work on word order – magnificent for MFL. Perhaps the tool I have used the most often is the “Find 10” tool, which makes a lovely simple starter. It does, however, need you to install software on your computer, which not all schools will let you do. There is a facility for MFL teachers to share their resources with each other, but I haven’t figured this out yet.
Dom’s MFL Blog is helpful and has lots of challenging suggestions to improve MFL teaching.
Over to you – do you have anything useful to share about using computers in modern language teaching?