This flyer outlines mobile apps and how they could be used to teach a second language at the high school level.
The first app that I chose is related to a web 2.0 tool that I love, wordreference.com, which is an online resource for second (...third, fourth...) language learners.
Just like the website, it gives the user access to multiple translations and synonyms to the word or phrase, discussion forums, principal and additional translations, the type of word (noun, adjective, etc...), uses of the word in a sentence and more...
Wordreference.com is well-known for being easy to use, accurate and accessible to people with a variety of destination languages to make it useful not just for learning a single language but as a tool towards a variety of lingual goals.
The app is great because it's faster and easier to access than the full site from a mobile device but is equally helpful. This makes learning a language easier as an any time/any place/any pace activity. The app is also free which is always a bonus.
The app does require access to internet to be able to connect with translations, which could be a barrier for students who don't have this access at home, but is much faster and easier to use than a paper dictionary for translations. I also find it to be a lot more useful in giving multiple examples with their uses, which reduces the chance of mis-translations.
How could it be used in the class?
This app is great for reading and writing in a second language. For me, when I was learning French in school, I used this app when I wasn't sure which word to use or what the proper way to say something was. It was really helpful when I wasn't sure of the formal and informal ways to say something and it's easy to post to a forum for answers if the site doesn't have the information you need.
Duolingo isn't an app that I've ever had the chance to use, but I've heard so much about it lately that I just had to check it out.
The first thing you get when you connect to the online site is a little owl guiding you through features. This is very user friendly (and adorable) and you can skip it if you think you can figure it out on your own.
I skipped the tour because I just wanted to see what basic things the site has to offer. You can choose whether you want to start from a beginner level or take a placement test to decide what level of help you need. This is great because it makes it accessible to learners of all levels and challenges students individually.
The placement test doesn't take long and tests English to French translation, French to English translation and auditory word recognition. After that there are lessons to help the students advance their knowledge.
It's also free!
How could it be used in class?
I think that this is a really great supplementary resource both for students who are struggling to keep up those who want to get ahead. It builds vocabulary and tests speaking, listening, reading and writing at different levels. This video made my the company describes some of the benefits of duolingo.
Tophat monocle is a great tool that we use in class. There is also a mobile app for it, which makes it extra accessible.
We use tophat monocle for many things in class, including responding to polls and answering questions with short answers.
One of the best features of this app is that there is instant access to statistics and answers. This allows the class to move forward seamlessly.
The app also allows for students to quickly and easily answer questions in a number of ways which makes it very easy to integrate into the classroom.
The teacher can even choose when they want the question/poll to be available to the class, so that everyone is answering at the same time.
How could it be used?
This app would be great for posting sample or practice questions that would lead to discussion in class. It's also an easy way to see if students are actually paying attention and actually using their devices the way they're supposed to since you can see how many students are answering the questions.
Text and communication apps
Most mobile devices have some way of connecting with other people be it SMS messaging, iMessage or free apps like skype and snapchat. Students can even keep in touch using email on their mobile devices. Although not all of these are good for classroom use, they could increase the social aspect of the classroom setting.
Students can use communication-based apps in and out of the classroom to connect with peers and share ideas.
This could be a good design because students are already familiar with the technology and it's easy to learn to use, so the frustration and class time wasted will be minimized.
How could it be used?
These apps are good for collaboration and help students build a network for peer-learning. As the role of the teacher moves away from the keeper of knowledge, it's important to teach students different ways to collect information and collaborate with peers.
As the world becomes more and more mobilized, many sites are opting to get mobile sites for their products. One example is the mobile app for Google Drive.
We've been using Google Drive in class all semester, mainly in the form of Google Docs, and it's proved to be a very useful tool in collaboration and team learning.
Google Drive provides even more capabilities, and gives students 24 hours access to presentations, drawings, documents, spreadsheet and forms. Although it might not be optimal or easy to use tools such as the drawing tool on a mobile device, students will be able to access drawings that have already been made, download and distribute them at will.
How could it be used?
Just like communication apps, Google Drive has great features allowing for collaboration, with many people being able to edit documents at the same time. It's also an easy place to store personal work in a format that is accessible to everyone and easy to share at a later date. Since Google Drive comes free with a free google account, anyone can use this app to store their work and collaborate with others.