Tech tools are everywhere and they’re a dime a dozen. Which ones are the best for world language classes? In last Thursday’s #langchat, @snesbitt1972 said
[The] focus shouldn’t be on the device. It’s just a tool. The bigger question is, how will devices help make life easier and connect learning to the real world?
Although we spent a lot of time sharing ideas and tools for incorporating technology into the world language classroom, the focus was on how these different technologies actually helped teachers and students do better work and build up language learning skills.
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What are the Most Common Devices?
Most of the teachers on #langchat have access to computer labs, but many of them have additional support with iPads in the classrooms. As the concept of a 1:1 technology ratio catches fire in many parts of the country, more world language teachers are able to use new forms of teaching their material.
Even though it is clear that technology access is increasing, every teacher has a different setup. Some teachers have 4-5 desktop computers that their students share, while others are much more fortunate. @LauraJaneBarber said, “We have a digital drop down lab by Steven’s Learning in every WL classroom.” @KrisClimer said,
All our students have [a] tablet PC now but I see more portable BYO [Bring Your Own] devices [being] the next norm.”
Bring Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Distraction?
While the #langchat teachers agreed that a BYOD policy is probably the wave of the future, some teachers face reluctant administrators who resist the move towards more tech in the classroom. @SECottrell said,
This is a discouraging topic for me. This year all personal devices were banned from sight. No exceptions. If we see them, it’s demerits. Cell phone is not supposed to be on their person.
She also went on to explain that administrators express concern that, “…students will cheat and be off task.”
Although including devices can get students more engaged, it was clear that most #langchat teachers utilize specific times and procedures for them. @MmeNero said, “Students will sometimes abuse use. Asking students to BYOD to turn off phones in 1st 30 sec of class, BUT can turn on when needed.” Other teachers also suggested having students’ devices out on the desks, where they are quite visible. @CoLeeSensei said,
I am the same way too – “phones out and on the desk”…rather there than in their pockets!
37 Tech Tools Your World Language Students Should Have
Then, #langchat contributors shared the best of the tech tools that are helping them be more effective and efficient. What were they?
1. Parlons – Students follow along with the online web documents and complete games and workshops regarding the story.
2. Evernote – A great way for students to organize digital work, and can be used by teachers to organize lessons and share information with the entire class. @MmeNero said, “Our dept is doing great E-portfolios with Evernote. Students record sample conversations, take pictures of examples, reflect and see/hear progression.”
3. Google Voice – Can be used for students to do presentations from their own home, or can make presentational grading easier by allowing teacher to grade after class.
4. Word Reference – An online multilingual dictionary that provides translation from and to English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, German, Polish, Russian, Greek, Chinese and more.
5. Quizlet – An incredible bank of study aids that have been created by other world language teachers. This resource also allows you to create study and lesson guides and share them as well.
6. Google Docs – This tool allows you to create online data forms and documents and then share them with students. Students can edit, comment and submit google docs for grading.
7. Poll Everywhere – You can create online polls that students can answer by texting and online messaging. Instant results are available, so students can see their responses immediately if you have a LCD projector attached to your computer. @mmebrady said, “We used polleverywhere this morning to share prior knowledge on a topic prior to analyzing a video text.”
8. Puppet Pals – This is an Ipad App that lets your students create unique animations and capture them to video. Have students record audio for their plays for a great presentational method of learning.
9. Book Creator – You or your students can create their own books for use in the classroom. Afterwards, you can submit them to the world book store!
10. Comic Life – Students get excited to create their own comic book characters with this exceptional tool.
11. Socrative – This is a Learning Management System (LMS) that allows teachers to create and share tests, quizzes and lessons to students’ smartphones, tablets and computers. @klafrench said, “I use Socrative for lots of quick feedback or practice activities. Easy to post a question for students to answer, no usernames.”
12. Voice Thread – Students can record conversations and post to the class. Unfortunately, this may have become a fee application.
13. YouTube – This online video sharing community is a great way for students to see authentic video and audio in the world language class. Some schools may have it blocked, though. (Spanish teachers, check out La Voz Kids – A Spanish version of “The Voice – Kids.” This is a highly entertaining series that can be the springboard for interpretive, interpersonal and presentational learning activities.)
15. Edmodo – Possibly the most popular LMS on this list, Edmodo allows teachers to create lessons, connect with students safely, share apps and document student progress.
16. Audacity – This is the most widely used free online sound recorder and editor. This is great for having world language students record their voices and create polished files to share with others.
17. Wordle – @MmeNero said, “Students add to list of words they know; smaller words/exp=need practice, bigger=what most know.”
18. Infuse Learning – This site offers a comprehensive way to connect your world language lessons with any student on their phone, computer or tablet device. Note: InfuseLearning shut down. See Jonathan Wylie’s article 10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments.
19. Duolingo – Offers free online courses in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and English. Some #langchat teachers like it, others said that the language was not as high quality as they would like.
20. Lingt – Another great LMS that allows world language teachers to incorporate assessments, video, audio and track student improvement.
21. Haiku – This is a cloud-based LMS that is standards-based and provides options for both mobile and desktop use.
22. Scan – This app allows you to read and create QR codes on a variety of devices.
24. Memrise – Uses memorization tricks to teach a variety of subjects. There are many classes to choose from, and world language teachers can create their own lessons if they don’t find exactly what they’re looking for.
25. Student Blogs – These are easy to set up through free services like Blogger and Edublogs.org (which provide a little more security for students). Some helpful tips: @KrisClimer said, “For student blogs, give clear expectations for peer review,” and @DiegoOjeda66 shared the Stout Blog Rubric.
26. DiLL – This LMS from Swift incorporates headsets, microphones and laptops to create a no-hassle language learning lab.
27. Grooveshark – Much like Pandora or Spotify, this website lets students listen to authentic audio samples for great interpretive projects or interactive class discussions.
28. Educreations – You can browse lessons for your computer lab or Ipad that have been created by other world language teachers, or you can easily create your own.
29. Spotify – This music app provides both free and paid options. Students can listen to authentic resources and you can create playlists to share as a class.
30. Songza – This music application is 100% free and has no listening limits. It is different than some other music apps in that the music is chosen by experts in the language and music of the cultures the music represent. Note: Songza has been acquired by Google Play.
31. Skype – This is a free live video calling application that can allow students to interact with native speakers all over the world. Be sure to check with your Information Technology Specialist (ITS) before using in the classroom. @natadel76 said, “Skype is a security threat too, according to my ITS.”
32. Wikispaces – Many teachers are still using Wikispaces as their dominant LMS. This tool allows you to create assignments, comment on work and upload and share images and video. Note: Wikispaces is closing in 2018. For an alternative, check out PBWorks.
33. Google Hangout – Possibly a more secure alternative to Skype, Google Hangouts also allow you to do video calling with up to 10 different computers.
34. Schoology – Voted the best 2013 LMS for students in grades K-12 by the CoDIE Awards (Software and Information Industry Association). It’s advanced integration system works with many outside applications like Moodle, TurnItIn and BlackBoard.
35. Mentor Mob – This is a search tool that clarifies world language searches and creates “learning playlists” for your students. You can also rate search results for relevance, use others’ playlists and create unique playlists for your students to use.
36. Moodle – A free LMS that provides teachers access to instruction of large groups of students, as well as assessments and interactive wikis, discussion boards and assessments.
37. Twitter – This instant messaging forum is a great way for students to interact with you and each other in the target language. You can change trending items to Spanish-speaking country lists, do live chats with your students in the target language, or participate in #langchat and get some great professional development!
Eager for more? For an update on this list, check out a couple of blogposts from longtime #langchat contributors. In February 2015, Maris Hawkins posted her Top 5 Tech Tools, and then Laura Sexton posted her Top 10 Tech Tools from 2016.
We’d like to thank our moderators, for keeping us on task and giving us some great ideas for using technology in our world language classrooms. As usual, there were many great ideas that didn’t get included in the summary. If you want to see what you missed, check out the full transcript of the chat in our online archive.
What comments, questions or concerns do you have about teaching world language? We’d love to hear more about you and what is important for your teaching journey. Give us your suggestions for future #langchat discussions and get involved in your professional learning community!