Derek Braun, OFLA/TESOL Liaison, Columbus City Schools, ELL Science Teacher
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) can be an excellent tool for any language teacher. It enables students to continue lessons outside of the classroom and can increase engagement by providing game-like activities and introducing students to authentic materials. This article will review several different websites and apps that every language teacher should know about. A summary and the pros and cons of the follow digital resources will be reviewed; Lyrics Training, Forvo, Edupuzzle, and Quizlet.
Lyrics Training is a website and free app that includes language learning activities in 12 different languages and of course includes the more commonly taught languages of English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Japanese among others. As the name suggests, Lyrics Training is a fun way to practice language and vocabulary through learning the lyrics of music. Once a language is selected the user will be provided with a list of popular songs’ music videos in the target language. The user will then be prompted to select a game mode: Beginner (fill in 10% of the words), Intermediate (fill in 25% of the words), Advanced (fill in 50% of the words), or Expert (fill in all the words). The game can then be selected to be played in two ways; either in “write mode” in which the player will be required to type in missing lyrics as the music video plays or “choice mode” in which the user will have a multiple-choice option to select for each missing word in the lyrics as the music video plays. Teachers can also create and save a library of custom exercises focusing on key vocabulary from songs by pre-selecting the vocabulary words that will become the fill in the blank words for the activity. These exercises can also be printed out and used by students to complete the fill in the blank lyrics. This would make for an excellent activity focused on verb conjugations.
Pros: Authentic materials, free, customizable lessons, engaging, music/ rhythm, gamified
Cons: Ad heavy, no signing with Google, does not sync with Google Classroom, no way to track student data
Forvo is a website library resource of audio pronunciations in over 340 different languages. English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese all contain more than 100,000 pronunciations. The digital library is all user based in which native speakers record and upload native pronunciations. Pronunciation recordings are also rated by native users which allows users to “vote up” the best representation of the word pronounced by a native speaker. When an account is created users can also download pronunciations as mp3 files to allow for the creation of digital flash cards that contain native pronunciations of vocabulary words.
Pros: Authentic materials, free, app available, website/account is free
Cons: not student friendly, requires creating an account, Quizlet does not allow uploading audio files for flash cards, app costs $2.99
Edpuzzle is a website and app that allows for users to upload and edit videos while inserting questions into the video. Teachers can create and save content in folders that is kept in an online account. When a video is uploaded (from a file or YouTube) it can then be edited in the following ways; by cropping the video, recording a voiceover, inserting audio notes, or inserting questions. When the video is viewed by a student it will pause at each audio note or question before proceeding. The student will then listen to the audio note or answer a question (multiple choice or writing question). Edpuzzle syncs with Google Classroom and assignments can be created for students who then login with Google. All questions are graded for students to receive immediate feedback to both students and the instructor. Videos of authentic resources can be uploaded to allow students to learn from native speakers.
Pros: Authentic materials, free app available, allows for a Google login and syncs with Google classroom, tracks student data, shared videos can be “duplicated” and edited
Cons: most shared videos are not well made, creating material is time consuming
Quizlet is an online electronic flashcard website and free app. Often times an over looked feature is having students create their own flashcards to study. The process of having students create their own study cards and choose the images associated with each card allows for a more memorable experience with each vocabulary term when studying the cards. Another great use of Quizlet is having students play Quizlet Live. This competitive game requires students to collaborate while defining vocabulary terms. Each student uses a separate Chromebook or devise while being presented a definition or picture then a unique set of words. The students must negotiate the correct term to match the definition then select the word form his or her unique set of vocabulary.
Pros: free app available, tracks student data ($35/year for teacher subscription), create and share content, games available
Cons: cannot upload audio files to flash cards, teacher version is $35