Beyond powerpoint: tools for novice language teachers

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My colleague in our technology in language education course, Bianka Fuchs

What kind of digital tools appeal to student teachers of foreign languages? Masters students in education in France, that is, pre-service primary and secondary school teachers, are expected to use technology in their classes during teaching placements. Often, however, opportunities are limited by technology provision in schools, and by uptake by the practitioners who act as tutors to our students. This means that implementing technology in the foreign language class may not go much beyond Powerpoint, with the teacher showing a slide presentation from the single class computer via a videoprojector.

Following a course on using audio-visual resources in the language classroom, Masters students in language education working with English, German and Spanish were asked to implement classroom activities with their learners and I was interested to see what kind of other applications these new teachers decided to use.  Here are the top ten selections, all free, cross-platform sites, often with mobile applications. Only the first is my own suggestion, in response to numerous accounts of difficulties getting pupils started on webquests; the others are student selections, many finding favour with student teachers of all three languages in focus.

Top ten applications

  1. Bitly: link shortener
    https://bitly.com
  2. Bitstrips: cartoon creation app
    https://www.bitstrips.com/
  3. Phrase it: add speech bubbles to photos
    http://phrase.it/
  4. Pons: bilingual dictionaries (DE, EN, ES, FR)
    http://en.pons.com/translate
  5. Popplet: mindmapping
    http://popplet.com
  6. Tellegami: animated video app
    https://tellagami.com/
  7. Vocaroo: voice recording
    http://vocaroo.com/
  8. Voicethread: collaborative multimedia presentation
    https://voicethread.com/
  9. Subtitle Workshop: open source video subtitling tool
    http://subworkshop.sourceforge.net/
  10. SoundCloud: audio recording and sharing
    https://soundcloud.com/

The teachers also of course used slides, and collaborative tools for working together amongst themselves. Here are some that came up frequently:

Slides

Collaboration

Teaching resources

The course, YouTube You Teach, was designed as part of the EU project SoNetTE, which has just ended.

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