Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Three iPad apps for language learning classroom

It's been a busy autumn with my new group. The students have already improved their Finnish skills quite a bit and they have  also started a course in mathematics. There will be more school subjects coming as their language skills develop. 

This time I'm going to present a few more iPad apps that I have used with my students to encourage them to practise their pronunciation, speaking and listening skills:

The app is designed for decision making but it turns out there are so many other ways to use it. My students, who are presently at beginners’ level in their language studies, have been using it for practising question formation, followed by discussion: Just add question words in the wheel and voilà, you’ll have a wheel that can be used in various contexts. Decide Now! is also a handy tool for practising vocabulary: Write the words in the wheel, students can then form sentences using them, define them or create a dialogue around them. Fun and effective, and when students work in pairs each one of them gets a lot of practice!

Pronunciation can be tricky. I am a supporter of each student’s own personal accent but I also encourage them to learn pronunciation to avoid misunderstandings simply because in the real world they need to be understood. I listen to my students speaking a lot, they also read aloud to me from time to time. I encourage them to use online dictionaries with audio as well as listen to the language around them. Yet another way to practise pronunciation is with Dragon Dictation. It is a voice recognition application. My students have used it, for example, for reading aloud short dialogues. Then they check the writing and see if there’s something to be corrected. In this way they also practise reading and spelling. The app can also be used for reading out easily confused words. For example, many Finnish language learners find it challenging to recognize between long and short vowels (tuli – tuuli) and double consonants (kuka – kukka).

So far we've only tried this app once, so there are yet many things to explore. The students were given a situation and they created a dialogue. The students then recorded the dialogue and later we listened to each one of them. A quick and easy way to practise speaking and listening skills. The students also like the idea of re-recording the dialogue if they were not happy with the final result.

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