iPad for International Language classrooms

I was supporting a colleague new as a Helping Teacher in our district this morning. I was offered a great lead in question – What can the iPad be used for in teaching languages?

I love the question. It is hard to not share the world of possible to those new to iPads.

Jim Trelease - Read Aloud Handbook - Used with PermissionVocab-Bowls
Image Used with Permission – Jim Trelease – www.trelease-on-reading.com

I find myself often going back to my own exploration two years ago about Oral Fluency. I found Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook (excerpts available here -image used with permission from Jim Trelease) to be invaluable. The vocabulary waterfall helped me understand language learning so much better. We need to focus on the listening vocabulary and that will overflow into speaking, reading and writing vocabulary.

The power of the iPad is its ease of managing multimedia, in particular audio.

Starting Points with a focus on Oral Fluency:
Camera App (Still photos)
– Teacher takes photos of vocabulary and shares as a slideshow where students discuss the images
– Students make photos of a broader area and play I spy
– Students make photos of objects, then with the image hidden from other students they ask 20 questions
– Students show an emotion and take a photo. Students circulate around the room, trying to guess the emotion displayed on each others iPad

(The still photos are used to catalyze interest, engage visual learners, and provide context to anchor new vocabulary)

Camera App (Video)
– Students record a short monologue. Listen and self assess. They will likely re-record to improve. They can then circulate and listen to each others spoken language
– Students place the iPad on table (or work in 3s with 1 being the camera person) and in partners record a conversation. Then they can listen and provide feedback to each other
– Students could video themselves describing an object or concept (It is round, about 8 cm tall, has an appendage etc), then either share directly for other students to guess or upload to a Private YouTube channel.

Explain Everything ($2.99)
– Explain Everything is such a powerful and easy to use creation app. What ever is drawn (or media inserted) can then be describe with the audio recorded
– The ability to draw over an image and record the audio provides an archive of the thinking process.

Skype (free)
– Create opportunities to have students interact with native language speakers. The Oral vocabulary will only increase.
– Several of our teachers have worked with their primary students to Skype experts and mystery Skypers from every continent last year.

Once students have used their oral language skills, they can use the creation immediately, or it can be archived in the cloud (dropbox or YouTube) and then learning can be extended so they can access or download at home or to their personal devices.

Creating digital artifacts allows students and teachers to create and manage portfolios. A student can listen or watch their work from September, October, November, December and provide a self assessment of improvement over time. As a teacher, a measure of the learning of a students ability to speak a language is better done orally than through written forms.

Each use is about offering meaningful and authentic opportunities to use the language they are learning. They have the easy ability to speak and record multiple times. The products can then be shared to extend learning further.

The question to counter the original would be instead – What can’t the iPad be used for in teaching languages?

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