Today’s blog is a post by my colleagues Alberto Peris and Elena Pertegaz, who are Spanish Language teachers at my school in Singapore, Stamford American International School. I was so impressed with the way the Spanish department has taken to tech integration that I wanted to highlight it to the world. Today, Alberto and Elena talk about the how and why of tech integration in Language Learning.
In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, being proficient in other languages is a vital skill that gives you the opportunity to engage in the world in a more immediate and meaningful way.
Learning to speak a second language can be challenging because it will move you out of your comfort zone but it has a lot of benefits such as: attention improvement, multitasking becomes more natural, decision making is simpler, memory skills are better protected, deepens your connection to other cultures and you gain perspective.
We feel really fortunate about the wide variety of technological resources that our school has to offer. Being a 1:1 Apple laptop scheme in Secondary School and 1:1 iPad in Elementary, we can definitely integrate technology in our lessons authentically and purposefully. But what does integration really mean? Many educational apps are tested and not used often as a learning tool, while integration makes reference to the inclusion of the tech tools as a part of the instructional curriculum.
In the Spanish department at Stamford American International School we have been testing and integrating several applications in our daily lessons to engage learners in a rich learning environment and create a real-life atmosphere where the students find the foreign language as a key element for their future. Some of the most used apps in our classes today are Kahoot, Quizlet, Socrative, Padlet, Flipgrid, BookCreator or Keynote.
The use of these tools have several purposes; some of them help us to make global connections and use the language in real situations. This is the case with Flipgrid, which offers a video-pals option to connect two or more classes where the students can send videos, find out where the other class is based, introduce themselves, show their learning, or even teach the language they are learning. It can work as the perfect pre assessment tool where the students record short videos showing their prior knowledge of vocabulary about the new unit that we will be working on; as a Formative Assessment tool where they are able to demonstrate how their learning is growing in the unit or even as a Summative Assessment. In the past we have had a hard time testing every single student during the Speaking test because the time is limited, but thanks to this app the kids are able to plan, practice and record their answer to questions previously given.
Kahoot has become one of the most popular apps in our department, every student loves to play at the same time that they are learning. This interactive tool helps us to review content and also provides instant feedback to the students. For some of us it is the perfect final activity of the week where we can check vocabulary and grammar learned during the week. Quizlet is another big one since it easily presents vocabulary to students in a fun way and provides plenty of different activities and games, plus it is really easy to manage for teachers and students. Personally, I love the routine of starting the week assessing the previous knowledge of the students with the first feature in Quizlet: Learn, have a mid-point check during the unit with the Quizlet test and end the unit with a cooperative activity using Quizlet Live. Students get used to this use of technology easily and they understand the purpose of each activity as a way to increase their language skills.
Other apps that we love are Padlet, that help us to develop language mind maps collaboratively; Socrative, in order to settle quick exit tickets, engage students and collaborate with other teachers; or Bookcreator, where students can become authors and promote cultural aspects related to the language that they learn in our classrooms.
Our purpose is to create global citizens who are able to use new technologies in a purposeful and meaningful way. Also, as language teachers, we want our students to be exposed to and foster an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts and history of the people associated with that language. Greater understanding promotes greater tolerance, empathy and acceptance of others. We are lucky enough to have technology at our service to aim our goals.