Integrate Technology into your 21st Century World Language Classroom

¡Hola! I’m Katie Bordner, and I’m one of the Spanish teachers at City High in Pittsburgh, PA. If you’ve seen my last post, you’ll know that I’m teaching the World Language Tech Integration class with Eduspire this October.

I’ve been building up a portfolio of resources to use in the classroom to complement my teaching, and I’m very excited to share some of these with course participants. To give you an idea of some things we’ll be focusing on in the World Language Tech Integration class, here is a sneak peek at five free tools I use on a regular basis:

duo Spanish trophy

1. Duolingo

Duolingo is the best language learning application I’ve come across. It’s adaptable to individual learners in that students can test out of topics they have previously mastered. Students can play it on a computer on a mobile device. It now has a teacher dashboard so you can track students’ progress and get weekly reports. Students enjoy the gamification aspect of it as well. It’s a great replacement for drill and kill worksheets and also serves as a good warm-up.

2. Google Translate

Obviously, World Language teachers know all too well the inaccuracies and pitfalls of Google Translate, so I recognize that you have to be very careful in how you encourage students to use it. I preface the condoning of Google Translate by watching a few videos like this and this. I do find, however, that having students type in Spanish short phrases they are working on saying and then clicking the speaker button to see hear how they’re pronounced can help students fill in some gaps. This also helps them be more independent learners in addition to the repetitions they hear from me. I’m also starting to move this practice over to Forvo because its pronunciation is more accurate.

3. Speech Recognition Add-on for Google Docs

I try to connect the listening practice on Google Translate and Forvo to students speaking as much as possible, so I was very happy to find a Speech Recognition Add-on for Google Docs that allows the user to speak into the microphone of the computer, and the add-on will type what it hears. Like other speech recognition software, it’s a bit finicky at the start and it doesn’t always pick up what students are trying to say in the second language. But it does get students to repeat phrases for clarity and understanding, and they are so proud when they see an accurate phrase!

4. Slowing down YouTube videos

One of the top struggles beginning language learners have is developing an ear for the second language in authentic settings. Many of my students complain that the audio provided as an ancillary for a textbook is too fast, let alone a native Spanish speaker speaking at their normal pace. Enter: slowing down YouTube videos to help students process what they are hearing and repeat. This allows students to understand and engage with authentic materials without being overwhelmed.

5. Following the #langchat hashtag on Twitter

The #langchat hashtag is full of great ideas and inspiring teachers. I have learned so much and gotten so many great tools from #langchat. It has been a great professional development tool, encouraging and inspiring each other to try new things and new ways of thinking about language learning.

If you want to learn more about a specific tool or want to know others that I use, I hope you sign up for my World Language Tech Integration class through Eduspire!