7 Terrific Technology-based Tools for the Foreign Language Classroom

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Learning foreign languages is extremely valuable. Whether you’re a K-12 student, a teacher, or someone looking for new tools to tutor with, technology has made it easier to learn new languages.

According to recent findings, online and tech-based learning can increase student retention by 25-60%, with 48% of K-12 having online classes available in 2021. 

Foreign language learning is a complex challenge for teachers without access to modern tools such as tablet devices, projectors, or web-based learning platforms.

Additional statistics indicate that 70% of UK students want to learn new languages, with 92% of European students enrolling in foreign language classes during schooling. 

There is a clear want and need for foreign languages, be that English, Spanish, German, Italian, or another language that students are interested in.

With that said, let’s discuss several terrific technology-based tools for foreign language classrooms that you can use right now to improve your students’ learning experience.

Technology-Based Tools for the Foreign Language Classroom

1. Google Tour Creator

Teaching someone a foreign language is just as much about showing them its roots as it is about grammar and speaking. Google Tour Creator can enable you to take your students on virtual tours in a plethora of locations around the globe.

Google Tour Creator

This immersive technology can be used not only to show students different cities and landmarks, but also to teach them words and phrases through examples. 

You can take them to Paris to learn street signs through speaking exercises or ask them to write a paragraph about Madrid, Vienna, or Berlin.

Google Tour Creator is extremely versatile and can be used with AR and VR technologies if you have them available in your classroom. If not, then projectors and large screens will serve just as well.

2. FluentU

Foreign language learning can be made more enjoyable if you include multimedia content in your classes. FluentU is a cloud-based platform and smartphone app which uses real-world materials to teach students foreign languages. 

FluentU

YouTube videos, documentaries, music videos, and video-based quizzes are among some content types available on FluentU. The best thing about the platform is that its multimedia is prepared by native speakers, so your students will learn how to pronounce words properly.

Content is varied enough so that different students will find something interesting to learn from. Each piece of content features captions and translations to make learning easier.

3. Memrise

Taking your students’ smartphone use habits into consideration is a great way to make learning foreign languages more fun. Memrise is an app that is based on practical speaking exercises, gamified tests, and immersive learning. 

Memrise

Students can memorize new words and phrases more easily thanks to the app’s multimedia content, featuring native speakers and captions.

Using Memrise in the classroom will also encourage students to continue learning at home, given how engaging the app is. All you need is for your students to download the app before class starts and your group learning experience can begin.

4. FlipGrid

FlipGrid is a language-learning tool that markets itself as a social learning platform. How it works is by allowing pupils to pair with one another remotely or in the classroom and learn how to speak foreign languages better. 

The best way to use FlipGrid is by pairing your entire class with another one somewhere abroad for both student groups to learn from one another.

FlipGrid

Students can create short clips where they speak into the camera and then send that video to their foreign interlocutors.

Given how today’s students enjoy using platforms like TikTok and Instagram, FlipGrid is a very good platform to use in your classroom.

5. Duolingo

Duolingo is a famous language learning platform that recently expanded its functionality to focus on educators teaching via tech-based tools in classrooms.

From a functional standpoint, Duolingo is perfect for today’s K-12 students since it features gamification, an experience system, and colorful UI elements. 

Duolingo

Teachers can group their students into digital classrooms, assign homework, track their learning progress, and manage everyone’s Duolingo experience.

The platform’s classroom features are varied and allow for a plethora of teaching styles. Most importantly, its features are constantly being expanded, and new languages are introduced almost monthly.

6. Quizlet

While students are used to traditional written tests and quizzes, they might look at digital ones more favorably. Quizlet is a platform with hundreds of professionally curated quizzes categorized into various learning categories. 

Quizlet

The platform features both practice workbooks as well as tests that your students can take to practice how good their foreign language knowledge is.

You can also share quizzes you’ve created for your students with others abroad via Quizlet. Even though Quizlet isn’t a language learning-only platform, it is still a very valuable tech-based tool to consider using for studying foreign languages.

7. Lyrics Training

Lastly, many of your students are bound to listen to Spotify and Apple Music in their spare time. This is why Lyrics Training is a useful tool to include in your language learning curriculum, as it allows students to learn through music. 

Lyrics Training can enable your students to learn new phrases and foreign words as spoken by native speakers who are also singers.

Lyrics Training

Signing along with them can help your students memorize phrases more easily and learn the language much faster. Best of all, the app’s lyrics will help students along on their learning journey to ensure each student makes the most out of the experience.

The Value of Implementing Tech-Based Tools into a Foreign Language Classroom

Why should you rely on tech-based tools in your foreign language classroom? The answer derives from the students themselves and their digital lifestyles.

Many students enjoy playing video games, using social media and learning different skills such as programming languages in their spare time. They are already using digital technologies in ways past generations could only dream of. 

By using technology, online platforms, and learning software in your classroom, you will effectively engage your students in a way they are familiar and comfortable with.

They will be far more interested to learn French, Greek, or Chinese if you teach them through gamification, digital courses, and multimedia presentations. 

The addition of tech-based tools in foreign language classrooms doesn’t undermine the use of standard publications and notebooks meant for formal education.

You can and should still use notebooks and working sheets for exercises and homework, but pair them with digital devices and platforms. The combination of these elements can lead to positive changes in your classroom, including some of the following perks:

  • Better inclusion and personalization of language learning based on individual student abilities.
  • Collaborative online exercises and projects which students can work on as a team.
  • Higher student engagement compared to using traditional study materials.
  • Ability to mix up the curriculum with a variety of content and platform types to keep things fresh.
  • Teaching students to rely on digital tools to solve problems and get work done faster.

Technology-Based Tools Implementation Pitfalls to Avoid

While it can be very valuable to include the above-discussed tools into your foreign language classroom’s curriculum, there are some things to keep in mind.

You need to make sure that your students know how to handle tech-based tools themselves and without adult supervision (in the case of K-12 students). 

This is why onboarding and training your students to better use web-based platforms should be a priority at first.

You can teach students to use professional language translation services when they are short on time or want an expert opinion on their homework or essays.

Beyond that, here are some of the mistakes you should avoid making when using tech-based tools in your classroom:

  • Using technology because it’s “trendy” – No tool, platform, or book should ever be in your classroom to tick a box or to chase trends. Think practically and only use the tools which can enhance your teaching experience.
  • Giving students complete autonomy to use the technology in the classroom – If unsupervised, students will likely procrastinate, check social media, or play games during their classes. Instruct them not to do so, and instead only use a few agreed-upon apps while class is in session.
  • Isolating students from one another – Just because students can use their smartphones or laptops to learn doesn’t mean they should avoid teamwork or collaboration. Create team-based projects, writing exercises, and speaking activities to help them bond and break the proverbial ice.
  • Relying too much on technology without giving students agency – Without technology, students can write essays, do written homework, and otherwise use more than their computer screens to learn. Don’t rely solely on tech-based tools, and differentiate your curriculum to allow students to express themselves in different ways.

Making the Most Out of Modern Technology in Language Learning

There’s no doubt that the value of using tech-based tools in classrooms far outweighs potential mistakes teachers can make during initial implementation.

Ask students whether they’ve used online tools before, and which ones do they recommend for their classmates to learn from. 

Your students might have excellent suggestions on which tools and devices to use in foreign language learning, and how to best use them.

Teaching and learning go hand-in-hand, and you can learn just as much from your pupils as they can from you as their mentor.


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