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Foreign Language Learning Goes Beyond the Classroom With Technology

By Sohee Park
 | Jan 12, 2018
ThinkstockPhotos-179119406_x300Learning a new language takes a long time. According to the United States Foreign Service Institute (FSI), English speakers may need to spend approximately up to 720 hours to reach elementary proficiency in a foreign language. This means that just taking classes is often not enough. In this blog post, I will introduce several apps and websites that foreign language teachers and learners can use to continue learning beyond the classroom.

Classting is an example of social media platform and learning management system (LMS) that works much like Edmodo, Schoology, and Canvas. The free app allows teachers, students, and parents to share class-related notices, conversations, and materials on the virtual classroom pages. A unique feature of Classting is the Class Exchange. By exchanging with other Classting classes, students can have extra opportunities to practice using the target language with native speakers.

Quizlet is another useful app to learn vocabulary and expressions. The app includes five study modes (learn, flashcards, write, spell, and test) and three gaming modes (match, gravity and live) that learners can use to check their understanding of vocabulary and expressions in a target language. Students can use the free version to create sets of vocabulary or expressions that they learned in class. Once they type words or expressions in their native language as well as a target foreign language, the app automatically records their pronunciations. Students can also use images that are saved in the Quizlet.

Using Quizlet Teacher, educators of foreign languages can facilitate and manage students’ learning. For example, I created at least one set per week for adult, native English-speaking students in my Korean teaching class. Each week, completing one of the five study modes was a basic assignment. Using the app, I could record my voice to teach proper pronunciations of Korean expressions and upload relevant images. I also could monitor which words and expressions were answered correctly or should be reviewed more by each student. Another great feature of Quizlet is the sets of publicly available flashcards. If creators of sets keep them open, any Quizlet users can use them for their own study, which saves time for teachers and students.  

The final platform, Edpuzzle, is an effective tool for learning from videos. Teachers can search and upload videos about the target language from nine websites including YouTube, Vimeo, and Kahn Academy. They can then create interactive videos by trimming the original video and inserting questions, answers, and comments into the trimmed video. Teachers are also able to turn off the skipping function, which helps students to actively engage in the video.

The apps and platforms introduced above have worked well in my classrooms, and my students have enjoyed learning with them. You can choose other similar apps that you have access to and feel more comfortable to use. Remember, no matter what programs you use, the key is to be well-organized and consistent.

SoheePark_80wSohee Park is a doctoral candidate specializing in literacy education at the University of Delaware. She was a former Korean language arts teacher in South Korea. At the University of Delaware, she has taught several courses related to teaching literacy in elementary grades and has participated in several research projects integrating technology to language learning. She also has voluntarily taught Korean language to native English speakers.

This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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