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Back Foreign Language Instruction Adopts iPods for Listening, Speaking

In Foreign Language we practice and acquire assess 4 skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Listening and speaking are often done informally in class. Students listen to the teacher or other students and respond.

We use technology to create authentic environments. The Language Lab of the 60s and 70s was expensive and required a dedicated classroom. It was intimidating and offered no diversity. It was teacher directed and all students cued into 1 tape. In the 80s and 90s cassettes and CDs were used for whole group listening. Diverse needs were not easily met and there were interferences from extraneous noise distractions.

iPod recorder

Two years ago we were inspired to seek the practicality of using iPods in the LOTE classroom. We were excited by iPods being a tool of high interest. Students individually perform speaking tasks and listening activities that can be graded and self-corrected.

We met twice in the summer of 2007 to complete the Brighton Education Fund grant application process and are grateful to to the fund's board for accepting our project. We met once a month after school in the 2007-2008 school year to develop lessons and strategies to implement the iPod and also to learn our own way around using and managing the iPod. This year we are actively using them in our classrooms.

What We've Learned

We have received very positive feedback from our students. Some of the feedback they have shared:

students using iPods
  • They love being able to go at their own pace when they are doing a listening activity. Even when the same activity is done as a whole class, the students can all work at different paces: 1 student may need to hear something only once, while another may need to hear it 5 or 6 times.
  • When they used the iPods for a recording activity, students reported that they could really hear their mistakes in pronunciation and sentence structure.
  • They like how they can hear how they actually sound to others when they speak.

We are very excited by the lessons we have implemented so far and have already purchased 3 more iPods with our dept. money. We look forward to purchasing more to complete a class set.

What's Next

We are still exploring the questions we have and all the uses and possibilities the iPod can offer.

We plan to continue sharing and improving lesson ideas and management ideas to figure out the best possible uses of the iPod in the Foreign Language classroom.

story provided by Loren Mashewske,
Foreign Language Teacher and Department Chair

March, 2009

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