St Hilda's Collegiate e-learning leader, Carla Joint talks about the benefits of technology in learning languages. It has enabled students to work at their own pace, direct their learning, use authentic material, and communicate with overseas students.
e-Learning at St. Hilda’s has enabled my students to be able to do a whole range of activities, particularly learning languages it’s been very important to offer a wide range of activities for students. It’s nice for students to be able to use laptops at their own pace on activities that once were teacher directed but are now student directed as well. Particularly those listening activities that in the past a teacher would play it once in the class and sometimes students would want to hear it two or three times and they can go back. Sometimes students would prefer to do that in the evening, go back, and repeat the language. It gives them the opportunity to use authentic material more often as well.
We have a sister school in Japan. We also have schools that the students interact with in Tahiti and in France. Students are able to make their recordings or their animations and share those with the students. They receive comments back on their blogs in both the target language and in English that they can interact with. They’re students who are about the same age with them as well so that sort of develops that global perspective. The ownership is really important. If language learning students often go away and practice by themselves but if you don’t have someone who is going to listen to it for purpose you tend to not put as much effort into it. With the laptops we’ve noticed a huge improvement in the accountability the girls take for it. How much that they really want to improve it. So often when I set a task I need to allow a lot more time than I would have in the past because the students want to not only get it done once and checked off but they want to go back and re work it several times because they know it’s going to go into a wider audience than just perhaps the teacher listening to the task as well.
The students also get back authentic materials as well. It gives us opportunity to access those whereas often textbooks in the past sort of got very dated in five or ten years. These students can go online and watch movie clips, television shows, online newspapers, magazines that we wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.
In the senior school the girls can carry on with their language in a more in depth discussion type process. We use our LMS, Moodle, for the girls to have online forums to discuss a topic, that really leads to them before they do a piece of extended writing in essay format. The girls can add to this over a week or two weeks and it’s great for them to see what other students’ responses are and also the teacher’s comments and of course that tracks all the way through. The girls sometimes take a screenshot of that and use that as a basis for their extended writing.
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