As much as coming to class and participating every day is vital to progress in language acquisition, so is supplementing daily lessons with at-home review. As language teachers, we spend a great deal of time encouraging our students to use the language outside of class, including sharing the many ways in which one can do that. Here are some of the tools and ideas I have used to encourage at-home French use.
I know many language teachers have sung the praises of DuoLingo. When students finish a task on the iPads early in my class, I often allow them to go on DuoLingo. By using it in class, students are more likely to use it at home. At the beginning of the year, I allow them to sign up for an account in class. DuoLingo is a great supplement for the curriculum.
Languages Online is a series of games and worksheets created by the government of the Australian province of Victoria. If I have a few minutes at the end of class, I sometimes pull up one the games and have a students play. Then I post it on Edmodo for students to play at home.
I am quite fond of TinyTap. Not only do I use it in class, but I post the activities on Edmodo for students to play at home. I also linked to many TinyTap games for students to play for their long-term assignment (see below).
Quizlet remains one of my favorite vocabulary studying tools. What makes it so indispensable is the fact that the words are pronounced for students while they study. While the voice is a bit robotic, it's pretty accurate and you can't beat the fact that it's all automated. Some of my students make Quizlet sets on their own to study from, I also post my sets on Edmodo for students to access. Playing scatter (above) is great for the last few minutes of class or if a student finishes a task early. I like students to see or play the game in class, which increases the likelihood that they will play it at home.
Any time I show a YouTube video in class, I share it on Edmodo and on my blog. If students want to watch it again, I remind them that they can watch it at home, and many students often report that they share the videos with siblings and parents.
I just started using Edmodo this year after our school stopped using our previous LMS. I really like it as a great way to communicate with students. I post homework on the blog as well as resources. I also award badges for various achievements, such as the ones below:
Besides the badges above, I also award badges for good behavior and other non-French related achievements. Students who earn 5 badges get a homework pass. Many of the badges above are for the use of French outside of class. Unfortunately, many students forget that these opportunities are available to them, as they are mentioned once at the beginning of the year, and although I do mention them from time to time, they are not a daily part of our class routine. I intend to do more with the badges next year, as I think they are a nice alternative to extra credit. I will be making some cooler prizes (perhaps some of the privileges other teachers have suggested on their blogs) and probably lowering the number of badges needed to get them (5 badges can be difficult to earn).
Personalized Learning Goal
Shortly before April break, I thought it might be a good idea to give students some sort of independent assignment to encourage the use of French outside of class. This was a one-time assignment, but the idea was that hopefully some students would develop study habits from this and continue these activities of their own volition. I gave students a list of possible assignments, most of which just required a parent signature. Students had a lot of fun with this. Among other things, I had students report back that they watched their favorite movie in French, spoke French on vacation with a friend, talk to Siri in French, and talk to a French-speaking relative in French.
One of the resources I created for this assignment was a list of games students could play. Some of them we had already played in class, but I also included many new ones, some with new vocabulary for students to acquire. The games came from TinyTap, Languages Online, EdPuzzle, and Kahoot. I reminded students that with the proper equipment (a computer or laptop and one device for each player), they can play Kahoot at home.
While I am constantly working on new ways to encourage the use of French at home, I think the advent of all these new tools and games in the last few years has really helped. What are some of the ways you approach this challenge?
P.S.: Many of the tools I have written about in this post I have also covered in more detail in the iPad Diaries. Head over there and take a look!
You may also want to read my post on keeping a blog.