It’s hard to keep up with today’s world. Especially as a teacher. Catching your students’ attention becomes a mission impossible when all they can think about is Fortnite and TikTok. If 20 years ago you were the best if you helped them understand a difficult concept, today your success rate depends on how cool you are. Not surprisingly, your only chance to become relevant in such times is to shake hands with technology such as language learning apps and become best friends with the entertainment industry. You know what they say: if you can’t beat them, join them.
Don’t worry! That’s not as difficult as it sounds. All you need to know is that modern times require modern solutions just like the latest trend in ELT: language learning apps! Smart, intuitive and gamified, these little pieces of software are everything you need to conquer the highest peaks in the classroom: “interest” and “attention”. Before you know, you’ll become the coolest teacher in the whole school.
On a more serious note, using language learning apps can be incredibly fun for both you and the students. Even if traditional teachers and schools disagree with introducing tech as a teaching aid, you don’t have to do the same. Times change. Students are different now. Their minds are completely unlike our own. They are easily distracted and that’s not their fault. So it’s your job to understand their uniqueness, embrace it and work with it. But let technology step in and help you. You won’t regret it.
Depending on the language learning app you are using and its features, you can create a whole new way of teaching guaranteed to make you even more entertaining than Fortnite. So here’s exactly why and how to use language learning apps to spice up your language learning classes.
1. Practice together with Daily Lessons
Before introducing your students to language learning apps, it’s crucial to test them yourself and choose what suits you (and them) best. There a lot of language learning apps out there, but not all good and certainly not all helpful. So make sure you choose only what’s best for you and your students!
For example, in this article, we are exploring the features of Mondly, an award-winning language learning app that I use to learn Japanese! Mondly allows you to learn 33 languages from 33 native languages in a beautifully-designed gamified experience. I love Mondly and I’m sure you and your students will love it as well!
One of the most popular and loved features of Mondly is the Daily Lesson. Designed to beef up your knowledge little by little in 5 minutes a day, the Daily Lesson is something you can do and discuss together with your students. Some of them bring their mobile phones to school anyways so why not use them for something useful? Either that or cast your own screen so they can all see it.
Do you know what’s the best part? Every lesson is a gamified experience. They will have to swipe up and down, arrange letters into words and words into sentences, choose the right answer, repeat the correct pronunciation of certain words or phrases and earn points for every completed lesson. It’s addictive and they will certainly love the whole experience. Imagine that! Your students being addicted to learning. Hahaha! Nice joke! But it’s not.
Besides, this app focuses on practical topics: words and phrases your students will actually get to use in real life.
2. Introduce them to the magic of chatbot
A few years ago, language learning apps were pretty rudimentary. But over the years, technology has become smarter and allowed them to improve. Mondly was the first one to introduce the chatbot with speech recognition technology and then the other existing apps followed. Nowadays, the feature is available in almost every language learning app in the App Store or Google Play.
So don’t waste any more time and introduce your students to the chatbot because they’ll love it. The feature works almost the same way as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant. You speak, the chatbot understands what you are saying and replies with a human voice.
It will not only spice up your ESL classes, but it will also encourage students to practice speaking on their own at home. It’s that fun!
3. Have fun with Augmented Reality lessons
If the first two features are available in most language learning apps, this one can only be found in Mondly. Here’s a video to help you understand how the experience works:
This won’t make your students fluent. They’ll need your help and guidance for that. But it will make them enjoy the ESL classes even more. A life-sized elephant appearing out of thin air in the class is not something you see every day. So bring this experience to the class at least once and watch their reaction. They will be eager to see more and learn more!
4. Explore new topics
How often do you teach your students how to make a hotel reservation in English? Or how to ask for food at a restaurant in English? Or how to ask for help in English? They might not need all that information now, but they will definitely need it in the future.
Language learning apps include this type of topic, so don’t be afraid to use them to get inspired and explore new topics together with your students. One good idea always leads to another.
5. Compare your results and compete
We all like to compete. Children even more than adults. That if you know how to design the competition. Because as you probably already know, a poorly organized competition may hurt their feelings and discourage them to ever compete again.
This is where Mondly comes in handy again. If you do decide to use it as a teaching aid for a longer period of time, encourage your students to add each other as friends in the app. This way, they will all see how their colleagues perform in the leaderboard. It’s transparent, it’s fun and competitive! And whoever has the most points in the leaderboard will get a 10 or an A. You are the teacher, so you make the rules. The secret is to have them all on the same leaderboard. They can check it at all times and do extra lessons at home so they can win more points. Try that for at least one semester and watch the magic happen!
All in all, using language learning apps can strengthen the connection between you and your students. You will meet them halfway between technology and language learning. You will speak their language and that’s all they need. No more “back in my time” stories. Students today need to be taught using a different approach, an approach you now know. Use it wisely!
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What do you think of language learning apps as a personal or classroom tool to study a language?
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ZhaoSeptember 12, 2019 11:46 pm
The beginning lesson is already overwhelming and hard to grasp, though I can answer many of the questions, because I don’t need to understand it, but just use some of the cues available. But good efforts in putting things together.