Earlier this month I attended the SWALLT conference in San Diego, hosted by SDSU. It was a great conference with many interesting topics, but the one I personally found the most interesting was Tom Keiges’ presentation on using tailor-made content for language learning. As it turns out, students do not appreciate this approach at all.
Keiges’ story was based on the outcomes of his dissertation: Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Online Class Activities within a Third Semester University Flipped-Spanish Classroom. It specifically addresses using existing, software-based content (MyLanguageLab by Pearson) and studies students’ opinions after working with the material.
The students generally disagreed with the statement that MySpanishLab activities promoted the selected learning outcomes and did not find the activities interesting.
In one of my earlier blogs I shared studies with you that showed that students who are exposed to authentic foreign language materials are better able to use the foreign language in real-life situations and have a more positive attitude toward learning about a different culture. This presentation made very clear that students hardly find non-authentic content interesting.
Students know there are other options available and their exposure to video is especially high. As a parent I witness the decline of TV in our household every day and sometimes I wonder why we subscribe to so many channels, as generally we only use YouTube. YouTube has changed the way people consume video content, letting them control the viewing experience.
That is why the ReLANpro Language Labs are no longer purely teacher centered. You as a teacher can be the new rock star when you walk into the classroom, divide your class into multiple groups and ask each group to provide a (suitable) YouTube video of their liking. You can then use these videos within any ReLANpro program for instant translation or subtitling.
You will immediately notice the students’ engagement, because you have empowered them by allowing them to choose the content. Of course not everything in language learning can be that entertaining; you have to do the work in order to acquire a language.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t integrate 21st Century Learning tools into the classroom and make language learning an engaging experience.
Until next time.