With the technology available today, students and teachers are fortunate to have a wealth of tools and resources to support learning. Recently, a Facebook post asking people to list the top 10 books that made an impact on them led me to consider my top ten technology tools for the French classroom. It was difficult to choose but here are the tools that I use most frequently:
1. Forvo – Billed as “All the words in the world. Pronounced.”, this site helps students with the pronunciation of words in many different languages. Native speakers contribute to this vast pronunciation guide that grows as more speakers post their contributions. “Add words, pronounce, listen and learn.” During French class, students are able to get pronunciation assistance from their teacher – we read together, repeat words and phrases, hear passages in French. The teacher is always there for support. But, what happens when students are at home or in a non-French environment? Who can they ask for help? Forvo fits the bill nicely.
2. Word Reference – When it comes to translation, many people turn to Google translate. In most cases, it does a decent job of getting the message across. However, it often gives only a very literal translation. For the nuances of the language, Word Reference is a much better resource. It gives principal and additional translations as well as showing how the word is used in a sentence. Plus, Word Reference is available on Google Play and the App store.
3. Study Stack – There are other flashcard apps and sites available like Quizlet or Study Blue and teachers sometimes prefer one over another but my favourite is Study Stack. It works online or on any device, teachers can use pre-made vocabulary stacks or make their own, it can integrate with Facebook, and it provides a variety of activities beyond flashcards. There are games such as Hangman, matching, and word scrabble as well as quizzes and tests that are scored by the program. It’s a great way for teachers to do diagnostic or formative assessment and for students to learn the vocabulary needed to communicate effectively.
4. Voice Record Pro – This is my favourite app for making quick recordings of any length that are still high in quality. Having students listen carefully to their pronunciation, fluency, and expression is extremely valuable in improving their oral language skills. Often, I focus on a specific skill from our success criteria. Before recording, the skill is practised in class with opportunities for feedback from peers and the teacher. Once the student feels they have mastered the skill, a recording is made. This is an effective way of doing peer and self-assessment while also providing the teacher with an audio sample for evaluation and feedback. I have also used Soundcloud and Audioboo in the past, but Voice Record is my favourite because of the variety of formats and options for saving recordings.
5. Superphoto and Toon Camera – These photo editing apps are invaluable for both students and teachers to create art using their own photos which can then be used for websites, projects, posters, and slideshows. Superphoto uses a variety of filters like painting, mosaic and split frames, while Toon Camera changes your photo into a comic or graphic novel style picture. I find that students are more creative when they can use their own photos rather than relying on clipart or pictures from the internet.
6. Bitstrips for Schools – Great for creating comics and characters that can also be used as avatars or clipart for websites or projects.
7. Thinglink – Add links to images (or video) to make them interactive. This is a great way to practise vocabulary in French.
8. Padlet (Wallwisher) – Build a wall on any topic where students can collaborate or brainstorm by adding a sticky note with their contribution. This is great for diagnostic and formative assessment, building vocabulary lists while reading a text, or sharing opinions and ideas. Photos and links can also be added. Lino is another similar site.
9. QR Codes – These are great for leading students to specific websites where they can complete a survey, read a text, watch a video, or access information quickly. Students use the Scan app to direct them to the website. Use the Shortenme extension in Chrome to easily generate QR codes that can be printed for posting around the classroom or displayed on the board using a data projector.
10. Google Apps for Education – From documents, to spreadsheets, forms, and presentations, this suite of tools does it all. Students and teachers are able to collaborate on documents, share their work with others, and give feedback efficiently. Work is saved automatically and students can use a computer or device of any kind without the need for memory sticks.
As with any tool, consideration should first be given to the learning goal and what tool(s) would best support students in fulfilling the success criteria necessary to meet the goal.
Do you use technology to support learning in the French classroom? If so, what 10 tools would be on your list?