French Apps for the Elementary Classroom
Helping Students Expand Their Opportunities for Language Acquisition Through mLearning
Teaching French immersion or FSL? Either way, you will want to provide each student with as many opportunities as possible to interact with French and in French. In a classroom setting, this can be difficult, particularly if the only expert speaker in the room is the teacher. Ever held convesations with 30 language learners at the same time? To avoid the situation in which 29 students wait while 1 student interacts with the teacher in French, there are a number of apps that could get all the students using the language in engaging and effective ways--at the same time! Take a look at just a few apps which will interest teachers and learners alike.
Chaperon Rouge de Grimm: 3D interactive Pop-up book $4.99
Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) is an interactive 3D book with attached games suitable for younger or beginning learners. The book (available in 7 langues) is a classic, which may help some learners with comprehension as they are already familiar with the basic story. Students can read the book themselves or have it read to them by a native speaker. The images and games are visually appealing. Students check their understanding of related material by playing some of the short games. Check out one of the pop up games in the video below.
J'apprends les formes et les couleurs par Hachette $1.99
This app is essentially a collection of four games for students to use to practice shape and colour recognition. The games are clear and the characters are cute and interactive. The games are somewhat repetitive, which would not hold the attentions of olders students for very long, but would certainly amuse Division 1 students for a time. Watch the video below for a demonstration on one of the games used for shape recognition. This could be used with Kindergarten, Grade 1 and 2 students for shape and colour recognition (Mathematics, Science). Watch an excerpt of one of the games in the video below.
Qui est-ce? (Guess who I am) ($1.99)
This guessing game (available in English, Spanish and French) is your basic "Guess Who" game language teachers have long used to help students describe people. "There are five different games to play and each game you can play at increasingly different levels:
1) Devine (computer chooses character, you have to guess)
2) Fais moi deviner (you choose character, computer has to guess)
3) Contre la montre (like "Devine", but the computer gives you clues quickly)
4) Tournoi (you against the computer: the computer chooses a character that you have to guess and vice-versa)
5) Deux joueurs (you play against another person trying to be the first one to guess their character, computer randomly choose characters for you)." (Duckworth, 2013) Levels of difficulty are determined by the number of characters being played with.
Take a look at the video below for a brief excerpt of the game.
French words for kids (Montessori), $3.99
French Words for Kids is an app designed to help students with word recognition and spelling and pronunciation. The menu allows students to choose words from different categories, among them the category of themes. This relates well to how the curriculum is designed for second language learning in Alberta. There are 14 themes to choose from including weather, family, the beach and so forth, with a total of 236 words. Once you pick a theme, an image will show up and the student fill in each empty square to spell the word. The word is presented symbolically and is spoken aloud; a particularly effective feature of the app is that the learner can click on each empty square to hear the sound of the letter in that square. (Duckworth, 2013) The following video demonstrates a spelling exercise in the app.
Marvel Reads: The Amazing Spider-man, Les Origines $2.99
Comics books in French are a fabulous hook for many, many boys--and some girls!--who are not always fans of the more traditionally formatted forms of literature. The Amazing Spider-Man in French will engage many hard to reach or unenthusiastic readers/language learners. "The illustrations are fantastic and there are some special effects such as zooming in and out and sound effects that go with the narration." (Duckworthy, 2013) Students will laugh at the funny French pronunciation of the word "Spider-Man". The level of French comprehension is reasonably high, so this app would be appropriate for skilled immersion students in Division 2, junior high immersion students, or late French immersion students in grade eight or nine, depending on their skill level. Interactive pages are included but are somewhat limited in scope.
Some additional thoughts on the subject...
While some might balk at the idea of buying apps, rather than availing oneself of the many free apps available; I would respond by saying that occasionally you get what you pay for. Apps should be considered learning materials for the classroom, just like textbooks and construction paper. As there is room in the budget for those physical items, there should be room for software and other programs designed to assist student learning.
Another concern may be what to do if you only have one iPad in your classroom. Certainly the goal of multiple students engaging in one-on-one learning at the same time will be hampered. However, many of these apps could be enjoyed by small groups of students or by the entire class if facilitated by the teacher. To move the app from the small screen of an iPad to a larger computer screen or interactive white board, try the technologies offered by teachingwithipad.org which enable you to mirror your iPad/iPhone onto a computer. Click the button to head to their site.
Duckworth, S. (2013) French Apps for Kids. [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://frenchappsforkids.blogspot.ca/