Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

A practitioner’s perspective

Edited by José Picardo


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages


Acknowledgements Foreword Using Images in the MFL classroom
Alice Ayel

3 4 5 7 9 11 14 16 19 20 23 25 26 29 31

Videoconferencing in the classroom
Suzi Bewell Alex Blagona Helena Butterfield Mary Cooch Joe Dale


Collaborate, facilitate Educate Tools to get pupils talking

German: OFF the curriculum but ON the VLE The power of RSS for 21st century educators A word or two about Wordle
Saira Ghani

Resources: keeping them real and keeping them together
Andrea Henderson Simon Howells Isabelle Jones Samantha Lunn

Google Maps in the MFL classroom Supporting assessment for learning Simple but effective

Mobile phones in the MFL classroom
Dominic McGladdery Marie-France Perkins José Picardo Amanda Salt Clare Seccombe Lisa Stevens

Mrs Perkins’s journey into the WWW

Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education 32 Looking back and moving forward Really understanding culture

36 38 40 43

Enhancing learning in the MFL Classroom Contributors


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

My most sincere thanks go to each of the contributors to this collection of articles who have selflessly taken time out from their busy teaching jobs to collaborate in this project and share their experiences in using technology in the modern foreign languages classroom. All photographs are either our own or have been used under a Creative Commons licence, in which case they have been attributed accordingly. The cover photo is courtesy of Erica Marshall of


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Originally published as a series of blog posts titled Technology in Modern Foreign Languages, this collection of articles explores how teachers are successfully incorporating the use of new technologies into their classroom practice with a focus on enhancing teaching and learning. Technologies such as blogging, microblogging, web 2.0, wikis, sound recording and videoconferencing have all found their way into our classrooms and harnessing them effectively is at the heart of 21st century pedagogy. The original articles can be read at


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Using images in the MFL classroom
MFL teachers have always used images to teach their students new items of vocabulary. However, it can be very time consuming when planning a lesson to find the right picture matching the word we want to teach. Nowadays, the internet is there to help us save time:

I was introduced to Flickr in January 2009 by attending a free online course on exploring images in the 21st Century Classroom organized by EVO. Flickr is a website where you can store, sort, search and share your photos online. It is free to up to 2 videos and 100MB worth of photos each calendar month. You can edit your photos and make them look nicer, add comments and captions using Picnik. You can also search pictures taken by other members of Flickr by entering keywords. In addition, you can join different groups where people share similar interests. I joined two groups: Images4Education and Great Quotes about Lear ning and Change and then it occurred to me to create a group for language teachers called Images to Teach Languages to share or use photos or videos to teach either a word, a conversation or a grammar point. Instead of looking in the entire web, all the pictures are in one one place tagged (i.e. catalogued using key words) according to topics – animals, places in town, shops, etc. Teachers can then copy and paste the pictures into their presentations, or download them,

print them or use them as flashcards. Already 52 members have joined this group and you can find pictures from different countries such as shops in France, Spain or Germany so that pupils can actually see what shops are like in different countries. To make the search even easier and quicker, teachers looking for a specific topic can add a post in Discussion with what they are looking for and other group members will help them in their search.
Big Huge Labs

by Alice Ayel

Big Huge Labs is a free website where you can create posters, puzzles, albums, covers, games and more using photos from your computer or photos from your Flickr or Facebook account. For example, the aim of a Year 8 French lesson was to introduce different food from different countries and to create a nice menu which would include the words students had learnt during the lesson. First I looked for pictures of different types of restaurants and then of different types of food and I favourited them on my Flickr account. Then I created two mosaics with the two sets of photos using Mosaic Maker on Big Huge Labs. In less than 15 minutes, I ended up with on one hand  8 photos of 8 different restaurants and on the other hand a set of  16 different types of food. My students were teamed up into groups of 3 or 4 and were tasked with looking at the mosaics  in

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
order to decide the type of restaurant (French, Chinese, Mexican….) and then the nationality of each type of food and whether it was a starter, main course or dessert. In teams, they then created their own menus. The photos were “real”, they were not clip-arts and this helped to engage the students in useful discussions about the topic at hand.

PHRASR is an interactive webbased application that uses Flickr images to illustrate the phrases that users submit. It is part of Pimpampum, a website with other applications which make the most of Flickr. PHRASR allows you to create a slideshow from words or sentences, although, unfortunately, currently only in English. You type a word or a sentence in a box, PHRASR then browses through the pictures on Flickr and finds a set of pictures matching the word or sentence you typed. You then just choose the best picture. I still managed to make relevant use of this fantastic web tool when I introduced European countries to my year 8 class. I entered the names of European countries in E n g l i s h : A u s t r i a , G e r m a n y, Ireland…. and I had a slideshow with amazing pictures from Flickr made in a matter of minutes. I showed the slideshow to my class and asked them to translate the countries into French. It was the starting point of a discussion about each country: where it was on the map, what the official language was, what you could visit and since we had learnt previously about food, we also

talked about the food specialities in each country. Students had a grid to fill in and then had to create a ID card about a country of their choice. S i n c e I c o u l d n ’t p a u s e t h e slideshow to focus on each picture, I favourited each picture on my Flickr account so we could have a closer look at them. Students were engaged, they especially liked talking about the countries they visited like Spain or where they had family like Ireland. It helped me show the rest of Europe to my students in a different, perhaps more positive light.

BOOKR is another web-based application from Pimpampum and it allows you to create photo books using Flickr images. It is very straightforward to use because students don’t have to sign in or register, so they can start straight away. There are no fancy designs, backgrounds, sounds, you just add pictures and captions. Some might argue it could become boring but I found students didn’t get too distracted by those effects and could really focus on the task, which was to create a photo book in another language. In order to find and add pictures, students enter keywords or tags in the tag box at the bottom of the screen, they can then choose a picture from Flickr. Finally, when students finished their photo books, they published it by sending me an email. I then got a link in my mailbox to their photo books and I could either copy and paste the code to the school

website, for example, or save their url links. I used this fantastic tool with a mixed ability group in year 9 and obtained fantastic results. They had to create a photo book about their last holidays. First, I showed them a photo book I created and explained to them how it worked. Then, students went into the ICT room and created their photo books. At the end of the lesson, I asked them to send their work to my email address. At the end of the day, my mailbox was full of BOOKR messages! I then embedded the best photo books on the school blog. Students were on task throughout the lesson very busy creating their photo album and at the end they were very pleased with themselves because they had some ICT work to view and show off. All of these tools were big time savers for me and helped me delivered successful lessons where students were engaged. Of course, I came across all those fantastic tools thanks to my Personal Learning Network thanks to whom I have become a better teacher as well as learner! Photo credits: 3360407169/ 2941451176/ 3363137854/ 2628760814/ 3016286128/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Video conferencing in the classroom
Back in early January 2009 I was contacted by Sophie Herblot, a young French headmistress who had stumbled upon my French teaching and learning blog. She got the feeling that I was quite technically aware (not quite true back then) and wanted to know if there was the possibility of starting up a partnership with a special focus on video conferencing. The French government are currently ploughing quite a lot of money into technology and web conferencing in particular. Sophie is lucky enough to teach in one of the 3 pilot organisations in her region. Madame Herblot teaches in a Primary school in Bantouzelle near Cambrai, in Northern France, and The next week I set about over the next few weeks we spent downloading Skype onto the a lot of time on MSN and email Primary school’s laptop and getting to know more about each despite warnings about firewalls other and, more importantly, and   LEA internet security, Sophie sorting out the finer details of our a n d I m a n a g e d t o c o n n e c t “projet visioconférence”. Within a classroom to classroom which was few days, we had both installed  even more exciting and meant that Skype and discussed ideas for a plan was coming together. what we might explore in class Our first lesson was planned for (with a focus on speaking) and Friday 13th March – pupils would were all ready for our first “essai”. spend the lesson introducing each We were both keen to have a try in other and using their knowledge of class as soon as possible. numbers and the alphabet in In early February I bought a French and English to fill out webcam ready for the big day and p e r s o n a l d e t a i l s . S a d l y, f o r the following day we set about technical reasons beyond our trying to connect from my home in control, Skype failed to work and York to Sophie at school in France. a l l c o n c e r n e d w e r e v e r y We were both very nervous and disappointed and frustrated… but extremely excited as you will hear if not deterred in the slightest! you have a listen to the short audio Sophie and I were determined to clip. try again the very next week.

by Suzi Bewell

Friday the 20th March 2009 was a most memorable day because we managed to connect with our French friends and I experienced the best French lesson of my career to date. A light bulb moment when learning takes place for a real purpose, in front of a real audience and where pupils are fully engaged and excited about the lesson, quite unaware that learning is actually taking place because they are having so much fun – and real French kids are clapping at them and implying that their French is actually not bad! Awesome. A few weeks later, still extremely excited by the first successful live hook up, we took the topic of clothes and colours as our focus. The French pupils had posted us cardboard cut outs of Pierre and Marie along with clothes in a variety of colours.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
We had to listen to their descriptions in French and show our understanding by dressing the dolls appropriately. Much fun was had by all. We were then treated to a rendition of “Hello it’s me!” an English version of a song they had viewed on our blog called “Bonjour, c’est moi!” (all about parts of the body). Much to our surprise, they had translated it into English and performed it to us “en live” and with actions. My pupils were full of praise and also amazed at how great the pupils’ English was. Again there was lots of cheering and clapping – what better motivator for learning a foreign language! This is what Sophie had to say: Once more, it was wonderful today!!! Pupils were very happy and proud. Our English teaching adviser was here and filmed it all. He said it was a very good example of preparation and organisation and he congratulated both of us for our work!! Waouh!! The summer term was quite hectic and sadly we didn’t get chance to connect again so in June we decided to write letters to keep the contact going and to focus on reading some basic English / French. In September the Year 6 class had moved onto secondary school and I took over teaching a Year 5 class at the same school. On December 4th they had their first taste of web conferencing and absolutely loved it! We sang the alphabet in French to the tune of ten green bottles and spent most of the lesson focusing on cognates and phonetic awareness. The grand finale to the lesson was a bilingual Christmas medley of “Vive le vent” and “Jingle Bells”. This is what Sophie had to say: “Je suis super contente de ce qu’on a fait vendredi! Les enfants sont emballés, Ils ont a-do-ré.” At a recent MFL Show and Tell event in London, I stated that I would encourage anyone to try out web conferencing as it is by far the best thing that has happened to my teaching in the last 11 years. Photo Credit:
Courtesy of Sophie Herblot


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Collaborate, facilitate, educate
by Alex Blagona

Whether we care to accept it or not, a great part of our job as teachers is the performance in the classroom. I’m not talking about ‘performance’ in the sense of performance management, but more the performance in an almost show-business sense of the word. The students are our audience, and schools now have to be ever more responsive to their views. Education and lear ning can actually be entertaining, and teachers are under increasing pressure to deliver lessons that engage students, as well bringing a smile to their faces. Lessons that are fun and that tap into the interests of students are more

successful, and certainly more memorable. My main use of ICT in the last couple of years has involved the use of  wikis to allow students to collaborate with each other and to make them clearer on learning, targets and to make them feel active participants in their learning. We are, without doubt, working and living in an age where technology is king, and where virtually all our students have created an online presence for themselves. Social networks are now de rigeur for the 21st century youngster, and teachers have had to become rapidly aware of how to harness

the advantages that this form of interaction now presents. Students who spend seemingly endless amounts of time online are going to be attracted by learning that matches up with their interests, that they see as accessible, that they can relate to, and which can also be fun. To that end I set up a wiki, using – there are other wiki providers out there – firstly for A Level students to help them with creative writing, essay preparation and speaking test practice, and also for my GCSE students to prepare them for their oral exams and to enable them to monitor their own progress towards the exam.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
Like all things that are considered ‘different’, I was confident in how it worked and benefited the learners, and had support from pupils, and many of my teaching colleagues. In May of last year, however, we got the dreaded call from  Ofsted, telling us that we would be inspected not as a whole school, but just our department, with a special focus on our use of ICT in teaching languages. This was the litmus test for what we had been doing, and to see if our methods and innovations matched the thinking of the inspectors. When the inspection report came back, we were vindicated: How well is ICT used by teachers and students to improve language learning? This is outstanding…the wiki system enables students to store their work online and staff to check and mark it. It also enables students to communicate rapidly with staff about language learning. Ofsted Report, May 2009. I set up a couple of lessons for the inspector to observe, both using the technology of wikis to have an impact on the learning of the students. The first was an A Level French lesson with Year 13, who were in the middle of preparing for their speaking tests. Using stimulus cards which were freely available online, we worked in a carousel, where one student answered the stimulus card q u e s t i o n s , a n o t h e r w ro t e a selection of follow up questions, another student prepared and recorded spoken answers using  Audacity, and another student reviewed the performance of the spoken answer. Although the logistics scared me, it all worked to plan, and every student ended up completing each task, with all results on the wiki, so that each student could see what every other student had done. The second lesson involved Year 10, who were having a go at telling the story of a dream holiday. We had worked on a writing frame in the previous lesson, and they had just completed their introductions on their individual pages. I was able to provide individual targeted feedback on each student’s work, and also ensure that pupils set themselves three achievable targets for themselves to complete. I gave each pupil a wikibuddy, another member of the class of a similar ability who would compare targets, and would review outcomes at the end of the lesson. This helped the pupils to spot common errors in their work, to avoid setting unreachable targets, and to remain challenged by the task at hand. Wikis have really engaged the students with whom we have used them. They have been allowed to personalise their pages, and after two years of using them, they have become accustomed to leaving comments on each other’s pages, and it has served to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence amongst the class. The sites have been impeccably selfpoliced and because the nature of the wiki means that I can check who has done what and at what time, the participants have not been tempted to vandalise anyone else’s work. Our school, as a  Specialist Language College, is also responsible for managing the Gifted and Talented Linguists’ project for the county of Suffolk. Bringing together fifty Year 11 students in what is a very rural county is a tough task, and creating a wiki for the project has enabled the participants to share ideas and language, and to be imaginative irrespective of their geographical location. Photo credit: 3675852330/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Tools to get pupils talking

by Helena Butterfield

I am a keen user of new technologies in my teaching, in particular of giving my pupils the opportunity to create with new tools, as I find it a truly motivating experience for them and me. Them, because they can see their high-quality work immediately and me because I am always amazed at what they can produce in such a short space of time and how easily they manage using what I consider to be such advanced technology. The skill that I am particularly keen on developing with my pupils is speaking. Such an essential skill, when learning a language but one that pupils really seem to struggle with in terms of having the opportunity to do it and having the

confidence to go ahead and give it a try. With this in mind, I find that new technologies provide an ideal opportunity for pupils to practice speaking the language they are learning without the feeling that they are doing it in front of the whole class, whilst also giving them the chance to reflect on what they hear and think about how they can improve and move onto the next level. In addition having recordings of themselves speaking means that they can then put themselves onto their iPods, Mp3 Players or mobiles and truly have a mobile learning experience – obviously whilst pretending to listen to cool

music with nobody knowing what’s really going on. With this in mind I’d like to write a b o u t m y To p To o l s f o r encouraging pupils to talk. I did a short presentation on this topic at TeachMeetNE09-02 a couple of weeks ago and this post gives me the opportunity to talk in more detail about some of the tools and how I use them. I will give examples of how I have used them with my classes – not all wonderful examples – but I think they give a flavour of what you could do and hopeful you will see ways in which you could do better! Firstly, and most importantly you need to know what you need in order to record your pupils. There

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

are several things you could use. When I record my classes chanting / practising in a group I use a  USB microphone connected to my computer and record using the free Audacity program. If I want small groups to record one another I use an EasiSpeak microphone which is really easy to use (even I can use it!) and records straight away into  .mp3 format. I’ve also recently been given a digital voice recorder which can do the same thing. In addition, still in my classroom, if I’d like individuals to record themselves, I’ve asked them to use the voice recorders on their mobiles. This can prove particularly useful to develop listening skills, as we recorded ourselves and then gave the recording to a partner for them to listen to and note the main points. If I’m lucky enough to be in the ICT suite, I use the traditional headphones with microphones attached and ask pupils to record themselves using Audacity, which is straight forward (although you might need to give them a quick lesson in how to do this.) So, what are my top tools to get pupils talking?

Having learnt from experience I would advise that pupils record themselves first and only then let them play on the Voki website… otherwise they don’t get the important language bit done. Once complete, pupils can then email you the Voki so that you can then display them on a blog or wiki. Here is an example of how my pupils used Voki in an   eTwinning Project: Let’s Blog.

classroom. It’s amazing how easily they picked up how to do everything – even exporting the files as .wav files. I told each group to nominate a techie who was responsible for the computer side of things and it worked really well. They recorded a wonderful rap, explaining about Haben: ich, du,er…
Make a podcast

Voicethread – This is a fantastic site to get pupils talking spontaneously. You can upload a photo or a document and then others can comment on it. They can either type or then can record their comments. This is great to get pupils preparing for their presentations for GCSE Speaking Assessments. I used Voicethread to encourage pupils to talk about a picture of a house, giving adjectives, opinions etc. Here is our Voicethread.

Songsmith – This is my current favourite. It’s a great program that adds a backing track to what you record. You can choose the style of the track and it picks up the rhythm of the words you say. It’s Voki fantastic for getting pupils to make Voki – This is a lovely site where up raps and rhymes to help pupils can create talking avatars. remember vocabulary or verbs. I It’s really easy to use and pupils got my Year 8 group to make up can add their own voices either by Haben raps. I put my laptop at the recording in Audacity and back of my room, gave them a uploading the sound file, can quick tutorial and then let groups record directly from the site or even do the recordings while we did a phone and leave a recording. carousel activity in the main

Make a podcast - A key feature of getting pupils to be able to speak a language is getting them to listen to it as much as possible. This can help them improve their accents and give them the confidence to try it too. A really good way to do this is to create a podcast so that they can download sound files that you create and put them onto their Mp3 Players or iPods so that they can take their language work wherever they go. I’ve also recorded my classes doing some choral repetition and turned that into a podcast. You could really do anything as a podcast: chants, raps, vocabulary for tests, grammar explanations… they’re particularly good for the auditory learners! To publish my podcasts I use Podomatic, a free podcasting platform. I currently run two podcasts that have been particularly useful for my Year 7s: Langwitch Radio (German) and Radio Langwitch (French).
Make a slidecast

Make a slidecast – The next step on from a podcast really, is a slidecast. To make a slidecast, I


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
use Slideshare, which is really simple and it gives you step-bystep instructions. This is essentially a slideshow with sound. So, for example if you introduce some new language with a PowerPoint in class you could have you class doing the repetition and turn it into a slidecast so that they can re-visit it at home. I envisage my classes going home and having the whole family sat round the computer practising new language that has been learnt…truly involving everyone in the learning! This has worked particularly well with some phonics work that I did  with my Year 7s earlier this year : Les Jolly Phoniques. My final pieces of advice would be to start small and simple and then see where it takes you. Once you begin, you’ll find all kinds of amazing ways to encourage your pupils to develop their speaking skills. These are just a few, relatively straight forward ways of getting pupils talking… if I can do it, anyone can! Photo Credit:
José Picardo


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

German: OFF the curriculum but ON the VLE
My degree is actually in French with Norwegian. Mindful that there isn’t much call for Norwegian teachers in the North West of England, I did my PGCE in French and German. When I was offered a job at my current school (the only job I’ve ever had) I was asked if I would mind, in a full timetable of French, just teaching one hour a week German as a favour. I agreed, and somehow during the ensuing 24 years I ended up in charge of German despite myself. In recent years it’s become even harder than normal to motivate most students to learn German or opt for it at  GCSE. When the only other Germanist in the department retired and two keen new MFL  NQTs arrived with Spanish as their specialism, it seemed a good time to change departmental policy: we would offer Spanish alongside French in the main curriculum, with German as an added extra. Rather than bemoan the loss of a language I never actually intended to teach, or worry that those few students showing an interest in German would suffer as a consequence, I saw it as a great opportunity to use our   VLE –  Moodle – as a vehicle for delivering the bulk of the learning. In Key Stage 3 we offered a one hour a week after school German club to Years 8 and 9 – the only face to face experience of German the children would have. We focused on oral work with a great

by Mary Cooch

emphasis on games (it was a club, after all!). The only requirement to join was that the children accessed our club page on the VLE and did the activities there in the days between meetings. I set up the page (Moodle calls them “courses”) in weekly sections with the resources we’d used in class; practice tasks to consolidate the grammar, and home works which they had to send in to me to mark online before the next club session. We used so-called  SCORM compliant games from Contentgenerator and Linguascope which meant that while the pupils thought they were playing games, the VLE was saving their scores. Club members used Audacity to record themselves having conversations and then used Crazy Talk to put funny faces to the voices – then I embedded the videos on our Moodle club page.

We also tried a bit of blue screening – well, ok; it was a blue sheet I stuck to my whiteboard with blu-tak but it worked! Moviemaker has a plugin to enable you to bluescreen, which is OK but not great, so we ended up using Serif Movie X3 from the school network – very cheap and highly recommended. The onus was very much on them to take their learning further – and, in fact, developing their independence would stand two of the pupils in good stead the following year when they opted to do German GSCE. Two pupils and one teacher was considered not economically viable to run in school time – so, once more, I turned to Moodle. I taught two girls GSCE German for one hour after school every week, using another Moodle course to keep us in touch between times. They asked me

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
questions via a private discussion forum; they kept their own notes in personal wikis on the course page; I uploaded sample speaking test presentations as .mp3; they uploaded their efforts to me as assignments . Vocabulary and grammar were tested by the –now totally free – Hotpotatoes and Moodle’s inbuilt Quiz module. Both these allow you to include video, sound and images to brighten up the exercises. They will mark the work for you and record the grades in Moodle ‘s mark book- a win-win situation! Despite that, I still worried last summer on results day. Could we really get good grades on one hour a week plus Moodle? I seriously misjudged the girls and feel very bad about it. I predicted a B and a C. They got an A* and a B respectively… This year I’ve passed the German mantle onto a colleague, as I’m focusing pretty much full time on Moodle. However, I’m involved in Primary Liaison and Year 5s from our feeder schools have been visiting us for a “fun session using our VLE” All they know when they arrive is that they will be playing some games on our Moodle for an hour and that they will leave having learned something they never knew before. As it’s billed as a “Mystery Moodle” session, I obviously cannot tell you what they do and what they then rush home to continue with on our VLE… But isn’t it fortunate how German has so many cognates to build confidence in young learners? Photo Credit:
José Picardo


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

The power of RSS for 21st century educators
by Joe Dale

I’ve always believed that ICT should not be used for the sake of it, but only when it enhances traditional methodology. One of the highlights of the noughties for me was the discovery of RSS and how it can be used in so many ways to nurture one’s personal learning network. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which is basically a delivery mechanism for subscribing to frequently updated content on Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, podcasts and wikis, etc. In simpler terms this means that instead of remembering to visit your favourite websites to find out

the latest news, the information can come to you and be read all in the same place through an RSS reader. This seems to save a lot of time and improve productivity as a result. However, RSS can do so much more than just that. Below, I plan to share with you some of the gems I have discovered by reading my feeds in the last few years and I encourage you to try some of the ideas out for yourself. The first idea is a site called Podcast Pickle and if you have got your own podcast you can create a player which you can then put on

your blog. Basically, you take the audio podcast RSS feed which you could get from say a website like Podomatic, which gives you 500MB of space for free and you can just upload your podcasts on to there. That will then generate the embed code that you need to post the player on your website. Essentially, this will allow others to listen to all of your episodes in the same place on your blog rather than having to subscribe to the information. They can just go to your blog and press play on the individual episode and every time you update a new episode it will

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
appear on the blog. That’s the great thing about RSS, it’s dynamic. Another idea I have come across with RSS is Feedburner and in particular Feedburner chicklets, which are the little bits of code that you put on your blog which then tell other people how many people are reading or have subscribed to the RSS feed that you’ve created. This is great because you know how many of your blog’s readers are subscribing. You don’t actually know how many people are just going to the website because they’ve just found it using a search engine or what have you, but you can actually quantify how many people have subscribed. Now when I say subscribed, that doesn’t cost any money at all. Sometimes when I talk about this sort of thing at conferences etc people get the impression that you have to pay. Well, it’s absolutely free and I think in the present sort of climate, certainly in England, in which teachers are finding it more and more difficult to get out of school because of the Rarely Cover issue, I think that RSS and taking control of your own CPD. Your own continuing professional development is really important. Another thing about Feedburner is if you’ve created let’s say your RSS feed through a website like Podomatic then Feedburrner will allow you to, if you like, create another version which means that if you then change the host feed that you have, the original feed you’ve set up and create another feed, but use the same Feedburner feed, then your content will not be changed which is a fantastic tip I found out from a great podcast called Podcasters’ Emporium. Episode 17, which is called Feeding your audience, has great information not just about Feedburner, but RSS feeds in general. Another tip I would give about RSS feeds is in relation to YouTube. Searching for content on YouTube can be very time-consuming. However, it is possible to create an RSS feed to display any recent clip which has been tagged with a certain keyword. For example, I used to be a languages teacher so I might be interested in  Key Stage 3 topics, say the family. By putting in “famille”, the French word for family into the RSS feed that I create, it would mean that anyone who has tagged a clip with the word “famille” will then appear in my Google Reader, which is a really great way of finding content. In addition, you can subscribe to someone’s YouTube channel by creating your own RSS feed which in YouTube itself is not actually possible. You can subscribe to somebody’s YouTube channel, but you can’t generate an RSS feed which will then go into Google Reader. Another way of using RSS for researching is using Google Alerts which is fantastic for finding about topics of interest or individuals who are writing interesting blog posts etc and by going to Google Alerts and setting up an account you can either choose to subscribe via RSS or via email and if you have a Google Reader account already you’ll automatically send that feed to Google Reader. So it makes it easier to find useful links online for topics you’re interested in and it’s a fantastic way of researching for up to date information which comes to you instead of you having to go to it, as it were to find it which saves a lot of time. RSS feeds are also a great way to keep in touch with the core group of people that you follow onfpr example, Twitter. Twitter is a great way of creating your own personal learning network. The disadvantage is that, if you are following 1500 people let’s say, there’s no way that you can read every single tweet that they make, every single message that they send. Therefore if you want to follow a core group, what you can do is go to the Twitter Search website, put in the username for the person you want to follow or track and then create an RSS feed for that username. Put that into Google Reader and as a result, you can see anything that they send as long as their tweets are not protected and also anyone who replies to them. So that’s really good. It’s also a great way of meeting like-minded colleagues as well. Finally, I discovered a few days ago I could create an RSS feed for my friends’ updates on Facebook, which has been possible in the past, but Facebook tend to change their security settings from time to time, which sometimes makes this not possible, although it is possible at the moment. So, hopefully, that will continue for a while and it means you don’t have

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
to log in to the site. You can just find out what your friends are up to on Facebook by having the RSS feed straight into Google Reader or straight into your RSS reader. So, to finish off with, the challenge now is to spread the news about the power of RSS and to show how effective it can be for enhancing learning in the 21st century. Photo Credit: 363837160/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

A word or two about Wordle
by Saira Ghani
are so keen to produce a top quality Wordle that they are very happy to draft and re-draft their work in Word, thus contributing to their learning. Also, the knowledge that their work might be displayed for the whole world to see on our department blog drives them to produce a quality piece of work (you can see some examples here). From a slightly negative point of view, pupils could become bogged down in fiddling with the appearance of their Wordle once they have inputted their text. I have to admit, however, that I haven’t found that to be an unsurmountable problem. Reflecting back on the past year, I have gained confidence and am no longer afraid to try out new ideas with classes, even if they don’t always work the first time around. Remember the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”? I feel it’s just as important for us as teachers to be taken out of our comfort zone from time to time as it is for our pupils. My PLN has given me the opportunity to reflect much more on my own practice and to work more collaboratively with my pupils themselves, as their feedback is invaluable in terms of tweaking future lessons and tasks. More importantly, from a purely selfish point of view I have gained a new enthusiasm for teaching and my pupils are becoming more enthusiastic language learners!

A year ago I would have described myself as a technophobe, an MFL teacher who thought using Powerpoint as a teaching tool, as well as allowing pupils to create their own Powerpoint presentations, was more or less the limit of using ICT in Modern Foreign Languages lessons, along with CDs and the odd DVD. How wrong I was! Last January I discovered Twitter, and the myriad of enthusiastic and supportive teachers that go with it. My Personal Learning Letwork (PLN) broadened rapidly. Having such fantastic support, encouragement and advice on hand almost 24 hours a day gave me the confidence to begin trying out new ideas and web 2.0 tools both as an aid to teaching and as a creative tool for my pupils to use when practising and consolidating new language. Tools such as Edmodo, Voki, Wallwisher, Go! Animate, Xtranormal, Animoto and Wordle have all become part of the armoury of resources used in my day to day teaching. Wordle is one particular tool that I have used in a number of ways. It really is easy to create a Wordle!

You input a piece of text, or a list of words, click go and your text becomes a Wordle, a word cloud in which the most frequently used words are displayed in a larger font. Inspired by posts written by Samantha Lunn and Tom Barrett about ways in which Wordles can be used I decided to take the plunge and give it a go. In terms of my own teaching, I have used Wordles as starter activities. As classes enter the room, I have my Wordle displayed on my projector. Pupils then look at it and guess the topic they are going to be learning. Another way I have used them is as a vocabulary classifying exercise, which has proven to be a big hit with pupils arguing over how they have classified it. I have also allowed pupils to create their own Wordles when they have been in an ICT room. Year 7 and 8 classes have typed sentences on various topics in a Word document, before copying and pasting them into Wordle. At first I was a bit sceptical about the worthiness of this in terms of language learning, but the pupils

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Resources: keeping them real and keeping them together

by Andrea Henderson

There has never been a better time to be a world language teacher. Every day there is new information to make teaching even more exciting. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter has been a wonderful source of new ideas and resources and this has made me grow in ways I had not imagined.

However, there are so many tools, gadgets, websites, and applications to choose from that it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. To best take advantage of this new technology, it is a good idea to create a filter so that you know exactly which information you can use of right away and which information you can file away for later.

The American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) created national standards for language learning which focus on the areas of Communication, Cultures, Comparisons, Connections, and Communities.I realized that even with a clear understanding of what I needed to teach, I still needed to create a


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
clear focus for my own classroom based on these standards, my philosophy of language acquisition and my students’ needs. When I changed schools four years ago, I created a mission statement that not only allowed me to focus on what was most important in the classroom but also to focus on which technological tools would best suit my purpose. An excellent tutorial for creating a mission statement can be found at Cedar Rapids Community Schools. My mission, which is a component of my full classroom plan, is to transform students into francophone Francophiles who are self-motivated lifelong learners and world citizens. My main goals are: • to bring real world language experiences to my students by using authentic resources • to encourage my students to be autonomous learners • to create formative assessments of and for learning • to incorporate developmentally appropriate learning strategies Additionally, I need to maintain an efficient storage and retrieval system to keep everything together. In this post I will concentrate on the use of authentic sources and how to organize said resources.
Real World Language Resources

As a teacher of French in Texas, it is not always easy for students to realize that French is a global language spoken on five continents. In addition to having my students communicate in

French, I must also show them that French does actually exist outside of my classroom and is spoken by real people! Using authentic resources brings the francophone world into my classroom and students understand that French is indeed a global language. Some of my favorite authentic resources are: • L’Internaute is an extremely rich French resource with everything from restaurant reviews to the analysis of names. There are also wonderful short videos that give instructions on how to make a Tarte Tatin as well as how to tie Windsor knot (the boys really appreciated this one). L’Internaute distributes several newsletters which highlight various articles. I recently found a wonderful article on the first jobs of the heads of state around the world. My French IV/V class has been studying education in France and we were amazed to find that one world leader once worked as a street vendor selling peanuts. Keeping L’Internaute as my home page gives me constant exposure to every-day French life. • Lodgis is a real estate site where one can sublet apartments in Paris. You can select the quartier, price range, and amenities you would like in your apartment. There are wonderful pictures of all of the rooms of the apartment as well as a written description of the contents of the apartment and the name of the closest metro stop. There is even a list of the stores and other conveniences near the

apartment. Although the apartments are in Paris, the language can be changed into Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. After studying the various arrondissements in Paris, my advanced students get to choose an apartment to live in. They love this, and I also have my dream apartment which I have printed out in color and placed in the front cover of one of my planning notebooks. These visuals provide a constant source of descriptions, comparisons, and narration. • Houra provides the ultimate online shopping experience. Not o n l y a re s t u d e n t s a b l e t o compare French and American products but they also are able to augment their vocabularies with the rich descriptive words that are present in the ads. Although I have mentioned many times that the French use decimal points where we use commas it becomes real to them when they actually see this system in use. I also have the students convert the euros to dollars at XE when you access the Houra site, you must put in a zip code. I use 75007; the arrondissement of La Tour Eiffel. Here is the lesson I created using Houra. • Wordle has been invaluable recently for providing pre-reading and pre-listening exercises for news stories of the earthquake in Haiti. I teach French levels 1-V and Wordle allowed me to provide comprehensible input for all of students.

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
I paste the text of a French news article from France 24 and allow Wordle to create the word cloud. I then change the color to black and white, select alphabetical order, and set the maximum words to 20-30. I then display the Worlde on my TV screen so that the students can see the words as they come into class. We first find the words they do know and find meanings to the words they don’t know. The students then make predictions of what they think the article will be about. Finally, when I play video of the news story, even the beginning the students are able to understand the gist of the story. For the more advanced students, I print out the article and I may additionally target a certain grammatical structure. Here is an example of a Worlde I have used recently with every level. • Commercials, movie trailers, and music videos have been another great way of bringing francophone culture into my classroom. Every Monday, as the students are coming into the room, I have videos of commercials playing on my TV. Allociné provides movie trailers so that students can see what is playing in France. I also use it for students to post their film reviews we write in class. The students take their writing much more seriously when they realize that it will be posted for the francophone world to see! Le Top 50 at MCM keeps me aware of what the most popular songs and artists in France. On Fridays, I play film trailers, and music videos. The students love this and often tell me that they have included these francophone artists in their own music collections.
Organizing resources

Keeping all of your ever-growing number of resource together can b e a c h a l l e n g e . T h e re a re , however, there are many tools that can help you organize your resources. My favorites are: • Netvibes allows me to keep my websites and other accounts all in one place. With Netvibes you to have a private page and a public page. My private page keeps my email accounts, Flickr, my bookmarking sites, and blogs I read together as well as allowing me to see updates of the blogs in one place. I started Netvibes when I took several online courses and had to organize the many online resources we used for the courses. I had multiple logins, wikis, and blogs to manage at once and Netvibes helped me keep my sanity! I was able to create a tab for each course I was taking as well as the courses teach. These tabs are a lifesaver when I take students to the computer lab (we go about every two weeks) because all of the resources are in one place. Here is a link to my public Netvibes page. • iTunes allows me create playlists of all of the audio I use for my various levels without having to dig through a mound of CDs. Teaching multiple levels means that I have quite a few CDs for

each level. I can easily create a collection of listening exercises organized by theme so that I can find them when I need them. Creating the playlists makes it much easier to monitor the class during assessments because I’m not chained to the CD player trying to find the track I need. iTunes also allows me to add podcasts to the playlists which provide move opportunity for listening experiences. • One of the challenges of working on multiple computers is organizing your multiple bookmarks. Delicious and Diigo allow me to organize my bookmarks so that I can find and share them easily. I started using Delicious because I liked the aspect of being able to be part of a bookmarking network. Many members of my PLN use Diigo and I created an account there as well. Diigo allows me to be a member of groups so I use it most often. Fortunately, my Delicious bookmarks can be updated simultaneously from Diigo which makes keeping everything updated simple . Using technology can be intimidating unless you have a focus. Many teachers become overwhelmed at the number of resources that are available and do not know where to begin. If you begin by creating a mission, setting goals, and focusing on a limited number of areas, you will be able to tame the information jungle.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Google Maps in the MFL classroom
by Simon Howells
If this term has proved anything to me, it’s that the use of Web 2.0 in M o d e r n F o re i g n L a n g u a g e s teaching is a wholly worthwhile and effective enterprise. Even the most intransigent class can genuinely learn and show real motivation if some of the great applications available to us online these days are harnessed in the right way. My journey with using ICT in MFL teaching began properly this year with the discovery of a wonderful online community of practitioners enthusiastic to share their excellence. Twitter has been an incredible education for me and has had a direct impact on classroom teaching as a non-stop source of ideas and support. As we all know, new ideas can be slow to take root in any institution, and schools are no different. But the MFL Twitterati have been invaluable to me in reminding me that it ain’t about how fast I get there… To cut to the chase, one of the web applications I had targeted for use this term was Google Maps. Over the summer, I had produced a YouTube tutorial on this topic. Figuring it was about time I took my own advice, I determined that I would have a go at it with my Year 1 0 g ro u p , w h o a re n o t a l l enthusiastic linguists and can be less than focused at times. As it happened, this series of lessons was key in turning their attitude around. The project in brief: • Students to produce an account of a journey in the past tense using Google Maps and its “Street View” function • Students to produce this on PowerPoint for display on the  VLE and and on the classroom wall Things I was worried about before doing this project: • It would take me ages and I would fall behind in the Schemes of Work • They would just mess about and get nothing done • It would be too complicated to explain • They would use technology as an excuse not to do the work • They would not actually learn anything! In order to address some of these worries I took steps to ensure the smooth running of the lessons. I produced a step-by-step guide including screenshots for the students, which I left on the school network and on our VLE; I planned a destination for each pupil to save time. I set minimum targets to be achieved in each of the three lessons; and, of course, I was on hand to help. This might seem like a lot of work, but I now have a great resource to use in future years. As I had previously delivered a lesson on Montpellier, where I spent a year abroad in the dim and


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
distant past, it seemed appropriate to use destinations around that town, to further “bring alive” the place they’re always hearing me mention! These three lessons turned out to be probably the most enjoyable of the term. Pupils less conversant with technology realised they could follow instructions and produce something that looked great. Others got inspired and produced incredibly detailed instructions. The editing process really hammered home the past tense, and this was perhaps the thing that pleased me the most – I felt that using it practically made them really learn the past tense. We went from a class who hated grammar and failed tests to one that saw the passé composé as… a bit passé! So how do I know for sure that it was a success? Much of the answer to that question is necessarily anecdotal. My group’s writing, though, has already shown a marked improvement. The secret pride I detected in our classroom display, and the satisfaction they got from seeing work appear on my blog and on the VLE, hinted at a changed attitude. They feel like they can “do” French all of a sudden. They have seen a practical application for it. They have taken pride in producing accurate work, spurred on by the knowledge that it will be on public view. They are ceasing to see French as a difficult bore and starting to believe in themselves. They are still far from perfect linguists – aren’t we all? – but the challenge now is to keep that going… it’s the climb!


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Supporting assessment for learning
Pixetell is an “on-demand software that enables you to quickly add voice, screen recordings and video to email and other electronic documents”. The twist is that Pixetell supports visual communication but also allows collaboration through sharing multimedia messages -called pixetells- and allowing discussions to take place around them. My vision of how it could be used relies on the need for teachers to develop a more structured approach to verbal feedback to students and links directly with assessment for learning.So, I decided to test it out giving feedback to a first year student-11 years old on a Powerpoint she had produced to • praise learn basic animal words in • suggestions for improvement Spanish. After trying out different • next steps (target-setting) microphones, it seems that a Used at the end of a short project, headset produced the best result. applications such as Pixetell would What struck me the most was how be a way to ensure that due praise uncomfortable I felt at first giving is given to all the students that feedback that way. We always have put in the effort. I also feel respond to other people’s body that the impact on the student’s l a n g u a g e a n d l o o k o u t f o r self-image as a learner would also paralinguistic clues when we are be stronger than a well done note giving feedback in order to assess on paper. In addition, the students its impact. In many respects, who feel that they are “too cool to feedback given through a Pixetell be praised” could still get their pat can be seen as fairer but I suspect on the back in private. some training would be needed in For the specific purpose of order to ensure that it still feels teaching languages, the benefit of personal. Saying the student’s i n c l u d i n g a u d i o i n t e a c h e r name, using different turns of feedback is obvious. Students then phrases for praising and offering have a model that they can use positive and constructive criticism and replicate if needed. It is also are all essential. not an impersonal sound file that The structure of the feedback is they have to listen to in its entirety roughly as follows: before they reach the bit that • description of good points/ applies to them, but it supports a criteria for assessment

by Isabelle Jones

personalised answer to their own work. Very powerful! If used for feedback, Pixetell would work great with private student/ teacher platforms like Edmodo for responses to individual projects, but used tactfully, example of students’ work could also be presented on a class   wiki/   VLE page with oral comments included. Examples of coursework at different grades from real or imaginary students could also be included for discussion. There are other tools like Jing, GoView or Camtasia who offer some of the features of Pixetell, so this very useful comparison chart helps the potential user to assess whether this is the right tool for them as well as to find free alternatives for specific features. Photo credit: 624190252/ 25

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Simple but effective
by Samantha Lunn

There is a phenomenal range of make my resources stimulating technological resources available and engaging: to MFL teachers to enhance our • Colour – I believe there is no pupils’ skills in the classroom. point in creating a resource using However, it is inevitable that either a variety of colours, fonts and/or resources or an ICT room are not images unless they have a always available in order for every purpose – after all, you do not pupil to be able to produce want to distract the reader, so I something they can be proud of, colour-code language: feminine therefore, at the moment I find that nouns are red and masculine I am the person using the nouns are blue (if I wish to technology the most in the emphasize plurals – in French, classroom – although my new for example, I use green). year’s resolution is to get the pupils Spanish verbs are coloured using more! green, purple or orange This post will therefore look at the according to whether it is an elements I use the most in my AR, -ER or IR verb respectively (I classroom when teaching, and use a slight variation for French), what technology I use in order to and I only tend to colour the verb

completely if it is conjugated, otherwise I just colour the ending. I do not explicitly explain to pupils my colour coding; however, as my classes develop I encourage them to begin to talk about what they recognise using the target language, eg. “Es azul porque es masculino” which can then build up to “es azul porque es masculino y termina en o”. This metalanguage can develop to an advanced level by the time they have studied the language for a few years, however it does require a bit of planning in order to develop it beyond the basic. What tools are required?


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
Not much is required except a rub and reveal, placing a shape colour palette in Word, over the image and moving it PowerPoint or equivalent away bit by bit or placing items application. Simple, but effective. over a word or image and deleting them in order to see • Image – I will not add a variety of images to a slide or a Word what is underneath . By document unless they are displaying an image, and then n e e d e d . W h e n c re a t i n g a showing the word in the target resource to introduce vocabulary language, I make a conscious I will always have on every effort to move away from linking screen the question that we are vocabulary back to English working on from the scheme of words and the images are then a work. I never introduce useful tool to practise language vocabulary without a structure later on, through activities such which stems from a as  Kim’s game, quick flash, slow Contextualising Question and the reveal, through the keyhole and re l e v a n t a n s w e r s t e m , f o r many more… example: Where are you from? I When I first trained to teach in am from…France/Germany/ 2005, we created resources on England/Spain etc. acetate to display on the Before introducing to pupils the overhead projector. Even though item of vocabulary that they will these resources were made in be learning I try to get them to Word, transferring the tell me what it is through using a pedagogical reasoning behind variety of techniques such as the methods of introducing and paraphrasing in the target practising vocabulary in this language or showing an image, manner to presentation tools h o w e v e r, r a t h e r t h a n j u s t such as PowerPoint or, more showing the image directly I recently, Prezi, took a lot of work, make use of a variety of tools to and is now an essential part of reveal an item very slowly, my teaching, and nearly every enabling the pupils to think about resource I make is displayed what it could be before learning electronically on the interactive the word. whiteboard. You can download In PowerPoint the animation tool examples of this type of is an effective way of slowly resources from my website making an object dissolve on to the screen and I like the • Audio – I rarely use a textbook in interactivity of the trigger tool the classroom as I prefer to (which allows an item that you create my own materials which have clicked on to be animated, are tailored to my teaching needs rather than being animated in a and my pupils’ learning needs. specific order which is You will find that I use more predefined in the PowerPoint). regularly the audio that comes In an  ActivStudio Flipchart I can with the textbooks, however, I replicate these techniques using also enjoy creating my own listening material for example, through recording my voice in Audacity (sometimes changing my voice by using effects) and uploading the sound file to a Voki. I use also regularly use songs in the classroom in order to drill language, and if the class produce a particularly good rendition, then we create a Voki (described in the target language, of course) and the audio of their version is added before I publish it online. More recently, I have begun to use LingtLanguage to create activities for students, and I will be using the department’s recently acquired EasiSpeak microphones and  Flip digital cameras in order for the pupils to create audio and video to practise their speaking skills further. Of course, I cannot forget to mention all of the video resources that are available to us through the internet on sites s u c h a s Yo u Tu b e a n d TeacherTube which are an excellent source of authentic materials. • Sharing – The most essential element of creating resources, for me comes from the sharing of good practice. Within my department we share nearly everything that we create – which includes flash games and audio files – through a wellorganised shared network area, which led to the creation of my website. I also rely on the many kind people


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
who make their resources available online, such as through, MFL Sunderland, MFL Resources and the TES resource bank. I have come across so many phenomenal online resources that I have found that the best way of ‘saving’ all of them is through using the  Delicious bookmarking site. I cannot end this article without mentioning how I come across so many excellent resources. The MFL TES forum, Twitter, Yahoo MFL Resources group and the reading of a variety of blogs (and writing one!) are all essential means of communication for me now, and as I look back over 2009 I realise that I would not be aware of half of the things that I know without the Personal Learning Network that I have developed around me. The MFL Flashmeetings, MFL Show & Tell and TeachMeet NW have been part of this year’s highlights and I look forward to enhancing my knowledge in 2010 through the continued use of ICT both in the classroom and beyond. Photo credit: twoacresphotography/3936235776/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Mobile phones in the MFL classroom

by Dominic McGladdery

As long ago as 2001, the UK government asked the Stewart Inquiry to set guidelines on a minimum age for mobile telephone users. It didn’t, but that didn’t stop the government from issuing a circular to all schools in England discouraging non-essential use of mobile telephones among students under the age of 15. Since then, things have changed. Children used mobiles and didn’t grow the tumours the government warned them about, and the technology has become so

advanced that most children I teach have a mobile telephone in their pocket which is considerably better and faster than the desktop PC in my study. Much has been written about how students can use their telephones as lear ning tools. However, officially, mobiles are still banned in many schools. I have been using them with my KS4 students with some success and here are some ways in which we have used them:

• Voice recording - The students record themselves speaking in the target language using the mobile phone’s in-built voice recorder. They then play it back, listening to their work. Instant self assessment and possible peer assessment. What did they do wrong? How could they improve? • Video recording - Using the video recording function, one student records two others performing a dialogue in the target language.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
This is great for practising GCSE Role Play activities and also for improving pronunciation. We have also done this using the school’s video cameras but, for some reason, the students prefer to use their mobiles. The fact that they don’t need to be taught to use them saves valuable time in class too. The finished work can then be sent to my laptop via  Bluetooth and shared with the group. • Sending files via - Bluetooth For the last couple of years the students have recorded their Presentations for their GCSE speaking exams using Audacity. I edited them taking out long pauses and erms, saved them as  .mp3 files and bluetoothed them to each student. They then listened to them on their mobiles or copied them to their Mp3 Players. We found this an excellent way to revise. Your friends don’t need to know that you are revising for your German exam, do they? I also used Xtranormal with Year 9 students to create movies which I embedded into my department’s  wiki. I downloaded them using RealPlayer and sent them to students’ phones using Bluetooth. They were really proud of what they had done and achieved. We have used Bluetooth to revise grammar points too. I converted some grammar PowerPoint files I made into movies with  Movie Maker and bluetoothed them to the students. • Downloading - I made some Crazytalk movies with some of the students and uploaded them to a YouTube account I created for the department. The students then downloaded the files to their mobiles to show their friends and families. • Using the web - I recently had a student use her mobile phone in my class to look up the meaning of a word on WordReference because she couldn’t find it in the dictionary. I have also allowed students to use Wikipedia to find information on certain topics in the target language. If you work in a school which allows students to use their mobiles responsibly, I would definitely recommend that you try out some of the ideas listed above. So what are my future plans? Well, next term I hope to get the students to use their phones actively in lessons. Ideally, I want them to use their phones to answer questions by text message. I’d already heard of one site, SMSPoll and, after reading Mark Cunningham’s blog about his recent experiences, another called PollEverywhere. Both these sites allow students to answer multiple choice questions and give realtime answers which can be put straight into PowerPoint presentations, which would be ideal for starters and plenaries in the classroom. PollEverywhere also allows you to create free text polls where students can respond with their own answers and allows answers via Twitter, too. This would be ideal for feedback and gathering information in languages lessons. I’m aware that not all students will have their mobiles in school and that not all of them will be able to send  SMS for free, but I hope to find a way around this. When I do, I’ll let you know. Photo credit: 1142365603/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Mrs Perkins’s journey into the w w w
I started teaching languages in the mid-eighties (last century). Our use of technology in the MFL faculty was limited to using a  reel to reel tape-recorder and showing films from the film strips projector. With the introduction of the taperecorder, our life became easier as locating the right track was less time consuming. My first encounter with a computer was a   BBC acorn. At first, I did not see how computers could be u s e d i n M F L . H o w e v e r, I discovered a game called Granville. I started taking classes into the then very basic computer-room to play the game. The students enjoyed playing the game which involved visiting the town of Granville and spending holiday money. I started seeing the potential of computers and how students could control their own learning. I have been in my present school since 1992 and I have seen technology evolved at such a speed that the mind boggles. My teaching has changed so much in the 21st century! My favourite tool in the classroom is the Interactive Whiteboard, but, for me, access to the Internet in the classroom has been the greatest breakthrough. Finished are the days of collecting newspapers, magazines or leaflets and filling up my car boot with realia to enhance my teaching. I still use some but students can now be exposed to the latest news, up-to-date prices, products etc. They can explore towns,

by Marie-France Perkins

shopping precincts, visit museums and so much more in the francophone world. Search engines have helped me access these resources. Listening exercises are more appropriate to the students; all our bought textbook recordings are accessible on the school’s   Intranet. I like to challenge students with the news from Mon jt quotidien, songs from YouTube, their own recordings using Audacity or the Easispeak microphones. Reading skills are enhanced by texts which are more relevant to their lives. Students have read about their favourite actors by searching information online. Often the learning does not stop at school, research is also done at home as independent study. I also use the Internet to create and host my own games. I use Hot Potatoes, Quia and Linguascope to promote new vocabulary. Every day I discover new tools and

interesting websites which I know will make my lessons more interesting and will bring the world to my classroom!  Twitter, online Languages fora and flashmeetings have given me access to resources that I would not have imagined possible at the beginning of this century. My tape-recorder and my overhead projector are still in a corner in my classroom… gathering dust!! Photo credit:


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education
According to   W ikipedia, m i c ro b l o g g i n g i s a f o r m o f multimedia blogging that allows users to send short text updates or micromedia such as photos, video or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. The fact that these updates can be sent to a restricted group is an essential consideration in the context of education and online safety. Essentially, microblogging is the purpose for which the vast majority of students use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or, increasingly, microblogging services such as Twitter. In the absence of an institutional  Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), social networking online can be used as an extension to classroom teaching and as a tool to encourage communication and inquisitiveness among students, with the overarching objective of enhancing teaching and learning of by improving both teacher-student and student-student communication, and, in so doing, bridging the home-school divide. The advent of what we adults call  Web 2.0 -I say this because, to our students, Web 2.0 is the web- has brought us a myriad of tools with considerable educational potential that the education establishment would be unwise to overlook or disparage. Old fashioned ICT word processing, powerpoint presentations and desktop applications in general- has often been demonstrated to motivate students. However, the bright, colourful, engaging and intuitive world of Web 2.0 has opened new possibilities to encourage creativity (photo and video sharing and editing sites), promote participation (social networking sites) and improve access to information (social book-marking sites) in ways which we are only beginning to understand. Sharing and collaborating can be redefined as the main characteristics of the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon, as opposed to its earlier, more static incarnation. There is no doubt that, although my students might be blissfully unaware of the term Web 2.0, they are all familiar with the concept behind it: creating content, sharing, collaborating and networking online. In fact, social networking online has rapidly become the principal means of communication for the current generation of teenagers. Social networking is, after all, what they do on their mobile phones and other hand-held devices under their desks when we teachers are not looking. This is what they do as soon as they get home from school. Many will argue that most students

by José Picardo


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
are just wasting their time and gossiping online but, whatever anyone’s opinion on the benefits or dangers of social networking is, it cannot be denied that they are all sharing, collaborating and networking and they are doing so in a way which they enjoy and find engaging, otherwise they simply would not do it. More and more people, not just our students, are becoming aware of the power of belonging to a network: each individual member contributes a small part, so that the resulting body of knowledge is much greater than that which any individual member could have amassed on their own. This is why the social internet has become so successful: groups of people have clumped together forming networks, generally because of some sort of affinity or shared interest, and have started communicating and passing on information that matters to them. Social and Personal networks, fora, blogs and microblogs have become the narrow end of the funnel through which a seemingly chaotic maelstrom of voices is poured, resulting in a steady flow o f m e a n i n g f u l a n d re l e v a n t information. My pupils may well not be consciously aware of this or f a m i l i a r w i t h t h e w o rd t h a t describes the activity in which they love to engage: microblogging. However, they are extremely well versed with the concept the word microblogging encapsulates: brief updates, photo and video sharing, tagging and poking. They are communicating with each other on an unprecedented scale, spending more and more time in front of a computer screen with multi-player games, email, the Internet and instant messaging becoming an ever more integral part of their lives. The rising importance and availability of online social networks and their popularity among young people in particular cannot be dismissed, putting the use of ICT at the heart of 21st century interconnectivity in all areas of society, not just education. Pedagogy, in my opinion, needs to reflect these social changes and conform to the needs and expectations of today’s students and, if we teach them in a way that mirrors how they live their lives when they are not in school, if we help to ensure that the gap between their school life and real life is minimised, we then become better able to guarantee the commitment and engagement of the vast majority of our students. Motivation and engagement are often seen as the holy grail of language teaching. Lack of motivation resulting in disengagement continues to be a big problem for language teachers, which helps to explain, in my view, why they have traditionally been early adopters of new technologies: first tapes and overhead projectors, then CDs, DVDs and digital data projectors. More recently, widely available internet access has heralded the arrival of the next logical stage in the evolution of the language teacher: the connected teacher. My challenge was therefore to provide my students with the means to communicate with their teachers and with each other in a way which they would find both attractive and natural, fitting in with their technological expectations and making use of the skills they already possessed whilst, at the same, time adding value to their education. Using a microblogging service which looked and felt like those already in use by my students would, in theory, allow teachers to enter their territory and continue to bring education to them wherever they happened to be through their computers and portable devices. I felt it was important to bring access to language learning opportunities from home and, therefore, started to look for a way in which I could bridge the gap between school and home (by home I really mean not school) by tapping into the potential offered by social networking in terms of catalysing student’s interest, therefore making the most of the positive attitudes my students displayed towards Computer Mediated Communication (CMC). Using ICT with a focus on the C for Communication is, in my view, the next logical step and would allow us to bring the learning online and to blend the use of traditional tools such as textbooks or dictionaries with more up-to-date, relevant and authentic multimedia materials from the web. Microblogging would provide teachers and students with a platform in which they could interact beyond the constraints of the school walls, and

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with which the teacher could provide further personalised feedback and support. Effective use of ICT in education is, in my view, the key to personalised learning: it increases learners’ access to resources and support and helps to motivate the most reluctant learners to practise complex skills and achieve more than they would have done through other, more traditional means, thus benefiting those who do not generally do well in formal contexts. Being able to contact the teacher electronically and in private to ask for help or clarification without fear of peer pressure or ridicule would help engage the hard-to-reach students and leaves the door wide open to new ways of personalising and differentiating tuition. On the other hand, those students who are engaged and doing well would relish the opportunity to obtain extension materials, designed to stretch the more able, delivered directly to their own social network wall in their computer screen. After having considered using Facebook groups and Twitter, I opted for a specialist microblogging service named Edmodo, which had been designed to be used specifically in an educational context. Twitter was discarded on the grounds that it offered a very limited service of 140 character long messages sent to a group of users, called tweets, or direct messages of equal length sent to individual users. Facebook was rejected after consulting our students and arriving at the conclusion that they might see our use of Facebook for educational purposes as an intrusion into their privacy, therefore negating any possible benefits obtained by using this medium. I got the distinct feeling that our students wanted to keep work and play separate. Edmodo, on the other hand, was clearly for school work, an aspect which appealed greatly to my students. However, it still looked and felt like their beloved Facebook. Upon signing up to the service students and teachers are told what the purpose of Edmodo is: ‘A private social platform for teachers and students to share ideas, files, events and assignments’. A distinction is also made upon signing up between students and teachers. Teachers are able to set up classes and groups (for which Edmodo generates a unique alphanumerical code) set and collect assignments, send alerts, link to online resources, attach documents and embed audio visual material. When students log on to Edmodo for the first time, they are prompted to enter the unique code generated for their class and thus both teacher and student accounts become linked and the can begin communication privately and safely. My students immediately understood the purpose of Edmodo and embraced its simplicity, and ease of use. As it is often pointed out, a website should not make the user think as far as usability is concerned. However, the feedback we kept receiving again and again from students was that Edmodo was just such a convenient service. Convenience, rather than ease of use, turned out to be the key to the adoption of Edmodo by my students as their preferred means of keeping track of assignment deadlines and communication with their teacher. Students, by and large, embraced Edmodo as a useful, time saving tool which helped them keep on top of their work and communicate with teachers when their help was most needed, that is, when they were away from the classroom and were attempting to put the theory learnt in the lessons into practice in their homework. In fact, being able to assess their work and answer their questions informally demonstrably increased their confidence in the subject and helped to secure their knowledge. Two further aspects I would like to mention are the democratisation and personalisation of the learning experience. Firstly, through the use of a microblogging platform such as Edmodo, all students are given the opportunity to interact with the teacher outside any perceived pressures and constraints which may be present in the classroom. This levelled the playing field for those students who were less ready to shout out in lessons, feared ridicule or were, simply, less willing to participate in the open forum of a classroom. Secondly, using microblogging in this way resulted in a more personalised experience for students, who felt individually supported by their teacher and, on occasion, also their peers. Personalisation also came in the form of being able to receive

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updates, reminders and notices from the classroom in their own computers or mobile devices which could be addressed to the group or to individual students. Te a c h i n g a n d l e a r n i n g t h u s became connected beyond the constrains of the school timetable. Despite these apparent advantages, I often detect a strong sense of scepticism among some of my colleagues who see the implementation of tools such as Edmodo as a capitulation to what t h e y p e rc e i v e a s a l a c k o f discipline, absence of self-control and preference for immediacy among the current generation of students. Students want everything now, instantly. Upon further consideration, however, this appears hardly surprising, particularly given that on the internet, for better or for worse, everything is just a click away, allowing them to follow links where their interest takes them, pursuing m u l t i d i m e n s i o n a l t h re a d s o f information, often leading to learning outcomes that bear little resemblance to the original objectives, that is, the reason for the first click. This, which is often perceived as a lack of focus rather than a new, perhaps better way to synthesise information and therefore acquire knowledge, does go some way to explain why our generation of students struggle to write essays under controlled conditions using pens and paper. It simply is not how they do things anymore, yet we still insist on assessing their work as ours was assessed and teaching them how we were taught. Understanding this might l e a d t o t h e re a l i s a t i o n t h a t classroom pedagogy needs to be transformed and that we cannot continue teaching the way we want to teach, but rather the way our students want to learn. My own view is that educators need to wake up to the needs and expectations of our students and reach a mutually acceptable compromise which would exploit the skills our students already possess whilst safeguarding our pedagogical principles, without caving into a teenager’s natural propensity to instant gratification and superficiality. These are traits, lest we forget, that have been found in teenagers since time immemorial, and not just among the current, often unfavourably portrayed and unfairly misrepresented generation. Perhaps what is familiar to our students feels threatening to teachers, given that we prefer to stay in control and we do not like our students being one step ahead of us. Perhaps we fear that we would not be able to control them in their territory: online. Yet we cannot deny that the internet has undergone a revolution in terms of the services and possibilities it offers. It is no longer a static repository of information, in which information flowed one way from the source to the recipient. Information nowadays flows both ways, as more and more websites encourage or even rely on two-way communication and the creation and sharing of content. It is clear that better communication between school and home, between teachers and students is, not only desirable, but also essential in a world in which technology is continually discovering and developing new, exciting and useful ways of improving communication between people. In a sense, our students have tasted the proverbial honey and the move towards this type of social interaction in the field of e d u c a t i o n i s , i n m y v i e w, inexorable. Educators would be unwise not to take advantage of their students’ willingness to communicate and their desire to participate via this medium.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Looking back and moving forward
by Amanda Salt

I suppose it is normal to reflect back on the year as Christmas approaches and the new year looms, and even more so when it comes to writing a guest post. I feel that I am often a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, yet I suppose that I am hard on myself, given how far I have progressed in a relatively short space of time. And it leads me to consider: how did I get to this point? Well, it all started with a trip to the Building Learning Communities conference in Boston, in the summer of 2008, closely followed by a jaunt to the Isle of Wight to an MFL conference organised by Joe Dale. I came away from both conferences totally inspired, and set about

establishing my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) primarily through contacts I had made at said conferences, as well as Twitter and the MFL Resources Yahoo group. There is so much I could talk about but the main aim of this blog is to share practical examples, so I am going to focus on Edmodo and our departmental wiki. It was José Picardo who first mentioned Edmodo, and this interested me as I had issues with the current   VLE in school and plans to change it were slow to come to fruition. Edmodo is free and has an appealing style, similar to Facebook which many pupils are obviously familiar with.

It proved extremely easy to set up an account for myself at, and equally so to establish group accounts for each of my classes. Pupils were given the group code and told to set up an account. My tip to encourage this would be to set a homework on Edmodo and tell them it is only available there! Within Edmodo, there is a poll facility which is useful, as well as the possibility of posting comments and replies. I use Edmodo to set assignments for pupils of all ages; they like it as they can access the site at home and download any relevant files I have uploaded, as well as see the due date. They can also submit

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the work electronically, which saves a lot of time in class, instead of using memory sticks, and it is more contained than email. You can grade the work on Edmodo or download it to Word and use track changes before uploading it again. I also set optional ICT tasks such as creative websites like Image Chef or Toondoo, whereby pupils gain stars for the star chart if they choose to complete the task. Pupils are embracing the opportunity to use their language in a more creative way and are keen to show their end product off to a wider audience. And this leads me on to my second focus: our departmental wiki.  I set up the wiki primarily as a means of displaying the pupils’ work and they love looking at the Clustrmap on the home page to see how many visitors we have had, and where they come from. Each class has their own page, and those who are confident in ICT or keen to learn are encouraged to upload or embed their work themselves, otherwise they can email the code or file to me and I do it for them, at this stage. So far this year, we have Toondoo, Go!Animate and puppet dialogues recorded using our new   FLIP camera. This encourages peer assessment on a formal or informal basis, and pupils are enthusiastic about this display of their work. Other pages include a list of useful websites, study skills and audio files, amongst others. I find the wiki so handy from this regard, as pupils invariably lost the pages produced in the past with this kind of information, or paid no attention to them. Putting them on the wiki means that we are talking their language, through a medium they understand and value. There is no doubt in my mind that my teaching has changed dramatically for the better. At this stage, the results are not necessarily different, but the buzz in our department and the uptake figures tell their own tale. Teachers in other departments come to us for advice and to borrow some of the equipment pupils have told them we are using in lessons. And, as a department, we are keen to share and learn from others, and go into 2010 with an enthusiasm for the benefits technology brings to our pupils and ourselves. Photo credit: 2318269286/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Really understanding culture

by Clare Seccombe

I’m sure that quite a few of my students over the years have thought that French and Spanish are languages that I have made up deliberately to confuse and bewilder them. Their immediate reaction to the hard work and thinking involved in the subject is often “Everyone should speak English”, “France is stupid” or “I’m never going to Spain”. I’ve needed to have in my repertoire something else to tempt them with, something else that will help them to have a deeper understanding of what the languages they are studying are all about. Community cohesion is one of the big things at the moment, and the Global Dimension is now an integral part of the KS3 curriculum. As teachers of MFL we are ideally placed to address these issues; we are fortunate to be teaching a subject where different cultures

and ways of life are the essence of our work. We deal with other countries on a daily basis. By bringing aspects of culture into our lessons we not only enrich and enliven them, but we also enable our students to see and understand that their culture and way of life are not the only ones and are not necessarily the right ones. It is imperative that students understand that foreign is not synonymous with wrong or bad. We are very fortunate in 2010 that we have the KS2 Framework with its Intercultural Understanding strand, of which I am a big fan, and the new KS3 Framework , which also has an Intercultural Understanding strand, to point us in the right direction. It is also the year when we have the World Cup in South Africa to facilitate work of an intercultural nature, not to mention the Winter Olympics in

Va n c o u v e r a n d o n g o i n g preparations for London 2012. When I started along the road of international education in 1997, the internet was really still in its infancy. There was some information out there, but it was hard to find, and then we did not have the facility to view it in the classroom. No i n t e r a c t i v e w h i t e b o a rd s , n o computer suites. And, if one ICT class was using the internet in those days, it became intolerably slow for everyone else. So the cultural input relied on the FLAs, photographs that I had taken on holiday, brochures, magazines, and of course the huge piles of realia which I collected while abroad and which are the scourge of the spouses of MFL teachers everywhere. Bringing the world into your classroom these days is so easy, thanks to technology. If you’re studying weather, bring it alive by looking at some webcams.  If you’re teaching “school”, have a look at the websites of some schools in one of the countries where the language is spoken. For example, have a look at the subjects that the students at this Spanish school learn. Do your students know all the vocabulary ? What is  Euskara? If it’s French you’re doing, you could show them pictures of schools in France, but Martinique is much more interesting! There are some superb video clips available now.

Technology in Modern Foreign Languages
There are also countless video clips, audio recordings and photographs which are readily available to MFL teachers via the internet, not to mention the numerous websites themselves with which it is easy to supplement the driest text book. The internet is omnipresent in the lives of today’s young people. They are able to access all kinds of things, things which will help them to form their opinions. Some of these things will touch on other cultures, on other peoples, and the opinions that they begin to form may not be those of tolerance, understanding and interest that we w o u l d h o p e f o r. C u l t u r a l stereotypes are everywhere in their lives: in the toys that they play with, the books that they read, the television programmes that they watch and the music that they listen to. What we need to do is to try to prod them in the right direction, to show them the difference between stereotype and reality. Again, technology comes to our rescue and enables us to do this with ease. I love showing   this video clip from YouTube, which gives us some stereotypical views of France and the French. We all have a good laugh at it. Then I s h o w  t h i s o n e , t h e E n g l i s h equivalent. We know that this is not an accurate depiction of England and being English, so we have to ask how accurate the French one is. Modern technology allows us easy, quick and, most importantly, free access to materials which will help us in our endeavours to increase our students’ tolerance and understanding of other countries and cultures. But nothing will achieve that aim more than personal contact between our students and their counterparts overseas. In “the olden days” of the late 1990s, all we could manage was hand-written letters, some cassette recordings of students speaking, and, if we were really lucky, some videos that we had made using a camera the size of a small suitcase. And of course it all had to be sent via snail mail or faxed. While we can still not underestimate the impact of a personal letter arriving in the post, there are so many other ways to correspond and work collaboratively now. There is  etwinning, where schools can find European partners and then work and correspond with them within a secure environment. And the correspondence is almost instant – no waiting three weeks for replies to letters to arrive – thus maintaining the impetus and interest. Audio and video recordings, which are so much easier to make these days, can be shared via email, or on shared spaces such as wikis and blogs, as well as the more traditional methods. And there are the numerous online authoring tools which are well-documented in Box of Tricks and which can be used to great effect in communication with partner schools and friends in other countries. So the ball is in our court. We have the ways and the means. Let’s use technology to ensure that our students really understand culture. Photo credit: 2906131566/


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Enhancing learning in the MFL Classroom
I love technology. I haven’t always loved it but over the last few years I’ve fallen in love with all things geekie and become a bit of a technochick, as I’m called at school. It’s true that ‘shiny things’ appeal to me but it’s more than that. I’ve become increasingly convinced of the importance of using technology in everyday life and, as an educator, that means in my job too. I have many roles: mother (very important!), Spanish teacher in a primary school, Language Coach for my local authority,  eTwinning A m b a s s a d o r f o r t h e  B r i t i s h Council, Apple Distinguished Educator, consultant and speaker – and in all of these I have seen the power of technology to make my job easier, better and more fun! For me, it’s not about using technology for the sake of it – there has to be a good reason. As I was thinking about this, I thought back to a blog post I wrote last year about one unit of the Key Stage 2 Spanish  QCA scheme of work and how we’d done it in our classroom. You can read the original post here. In a six week period we used technology every week to enhance our learning. Without it we’d have met the objectives of the Unit – that’s true. However, it wouldn’t have been the same and I doubt that the pupils would have gained as much as they did from using all the tools we utilised.

by Lisa Stevens

So, what did we do and what did we use? Websites – The unit was based on / inspired by Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, and I found a wonderful Spanish website which featured clips of each of the animals’ themes and also gave information about Saint Saens, the piece and the musical instruments used. This meant that I was informed as the teacher but the pupils could also have a look, surprising themselves as to how much they understood despite it being in Spanish! • YouTube - One lesson was based on the sounds animals make, and this I introduced with a clip from YouTube of a traditional Spanish song,  Los pollitos dicen. This captured attention and set the pupils a challenge. What was our learning objective for the lesson? I might have just written it on the board and got on with the lesson but in this way, pupils were actively

involved in their learning and engaged from the start. Plus there was much singing along. I use YouTube all the time and we are fortunate that it is not blocked in our LA – however, there was a time when it was, and then I just downloaded the clips using Zamzar or the widget on my Firefox browser for use in the classroom. • Sound recording – Linking with the cross curricular element of the topic, we made a ‘symphony’ – some may say ‘cacophony’ – using the rhythm of the animal names in Spanish and clapping. We recorded ourselves using Audacity on the classroom PC. This enabled us to listen back and assess our work. It also gave me evidence of what we’d been doing. And the pupils loved it! We used sound recording later in the unit too, with individual pupils recording themselves personal


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information as if they were spangly tools and hardware, it’s animals. On that occasion we about using what you’ve been used Audacity on a laptop and a given effectively. And using your headset microphone. interactive whiteboard is one way Nowadays – how time flies!- we of using technology all the time. use Easispeak microphones Flipcharts allow pupils to be about which I could rave for active in the lesson – rather than hours and frequently do. These passively looking at the board, are much easier to use in terms they can move items, group of portability, background noise them, play games, find out if they and storage. Recording are right or wrong using graphics themselves was a novelty for the and so much more. And using pupils (less so now that we do it Powerpoint animations is another often in Spanish) and had the way of engaging interest. I used benefit of allowing pupils privacy it in telling the story Querido Zoo to speak without an audience to – much easier to see than a intimidate them, and also of book, with the animations motivating the more reluctant replacing the flaps in the book. learners to have a go. They had • Build your Wild Self / Avatars – pride in their achievement that I Build your Wild Self is a would suggest they would not wonderful site from the Bronx have felt if I had simply asked Zoo that allows you to make an them questions in class. avatar that is a hybrid animal. I’d discovered it before, but it really • Podomatic – Recording the pupils proved to be not only came into its own here. Pupils practical but motivational . And made their avatars then we took it a step further. Using described them. They had the Podomatic, a free podcasting possibility of talking about body site, I made a school podcast parts, animals, giving channel – WCPS Spanish – on descriptions, talking about the which we published the resultant noise their animal might make, s o u n d fi l e s . H e r e ’s t h e where it might live and what it ‘symphony’ and some of the might like to eat. The pupils’ sound files – you can scroll were less complicated!! Again, forwards for more examples, all we might have drawn the entitled Soy un animal (name). animals by hand but this is time Using Podomatic meant we consuming and the objective of could publish on the school the lesson was description and website and also meant that we links to adaption and habitat, so had a presence on iTunes – a big the tool allowed us to have fun thrill for the pupils who were full whilst getting on to the crux of of it and wanted to check on the task. downloads! • Animation – Each unit of the QCA schemes of work ends with • Interactive Whiteboards / Animated Powerpoint – Using a ‘celebration of learning’ and for technology isn’t just using this unit, inspired by Oscar Stringer, I decided to try some animation. Brave as I had 30 kids in the class and no support you might think, but using technology in my experience brings out the best in pupils who revel in the responsibility you give them to look after equipment and work together sensibly. Good job as we used my 3 day old MacBook about which I was extremely precious! I split the group into pairs, gave them a couple of farm animals and tasked them with getting their animals from one side of the ‘stage’ to another. The resulting footage was then put into iMovie and each pair voiced their animals. The resulting film may not be the best animation ever – it’s very dark as we used the iSight camera on the MacBook and was filmed over two weeks so the scenery shifts half way through. However, the pupils were pleased with their efforts. Everyone participated. They’d cooperated, spoken Spanish and shown creativity as well as learned a new skill. And they’d done it with minimal input from me. Posting it to YouTube made them even happier, and they still check now for the number of times their work has been hit. So, that was just one unit – six weeks of work. For me, the use of technology made perfect sense on each occasion. It made sense to the pupils too. From feedback I received informally as I welcomed and dismissed classes, it was


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welcomed by parents who had heard about and seen what we’d done from their excited children. And, although it took time, it provoked questions from other members of staff who wanted to know what we’d been doing as the pupils had been enthusing about their tasks. Perhaps we don’t use technology that often in every unit but it is now quite normal to record speaking activities, or make Voki, or use Voicethread or Wallwisher to collaborate and show what we’ve learned. And so it should be.


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Alice Ayel teaches Spanish and French at Thuringia International school in Weimar, Germany. Alice blogs at Twitter:  @aliceayel Suzi Bewell is a secondary teacher of French and German at All Saints Language College in York.  She also works for the  SSAT as a Lead Practitioner for Languages. Suzi blogs at http:// Twitter:  @suzibewell Alex Blagona is Head of Language College at Northgate High School in Ipswich, where he teaches French and German. His websites are and Twitter:  @blagona Helena Butterfield is International Schools Coordinator and an MFL Teacher at Ian Ramsey C of E School in Stockton-on-Tees, where she teaches French, German, Spanish and ICT. Helena blogs at Twitter:  @langwitch Mary Cooch has taught Languages and Geography at Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Preston. Mary is the author of Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds, as well as a VLE trainer specialising in Moodle. Mary’s websites are listed at Twitter:  @moodlefairy Joe Dale is a CILT Language Teaching Adviser, BBC Languages consultant, Links into Languages trainer, eTwinning Ambassador, host of the TES MFL forum, former SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner, regular conference speaker and recognised expert on technology and language learning. Joe blogs at Twitter:  @joedale Saira Ghani is Head of French at Chiltern Edge School, near Reading. Saira blogs at Twitter:  @sghani Andrea Henderson teaches French at Elkins High School in Missouri City (a suburb of Houston), Texas at Fort Bend Independent School District. Andrea blogs at and francophile/ Twitter:  @mme_henderson Simon Howells is Modern Foreign Languages ICT Coordinator at Cheadle Hulme School in Cheshire, where he teaches French, German and Italian. Simon blogs at Twitter:  @simonhowells Isabelle Jones is a qualified translator/ interpreter with 16 years of experience teaching French and Spanish. Head of MFL since 2002 and involved in PMFL since 2003. Isabelle is a keen ed-tech enthusiast who blogs at Twitter  @icpjones Samantha Lunn is Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Arnold School in Blackpool, where she teaches Spanish and French. Samantha runs the website. Samantha blogs at Twitter:  @spanishsam


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

Dominic McGladdery is Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Roseberry Sports College in Chester le Street, where he teaches French and German. He blogs at Twitter:  @dominic_mcg Marie-France Perkins is Head of MFL at the Oldfield School in Bath, where she teaches mostly French and some German. Marie-France blogs at Twitter:  @MarieFrance José Picardo is Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Nottingham High School. He is also a consultant and speaker on the effective use of technology in education. José blogs at Twitter: @josepicardo Amanda Salt is Head of Spanish at Grosvenor Grammar School in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Amanda blogs at Twitter:  @amandasalt Clare Seccombe is Sunderland Local Authority Support Teacher for Primary Languages and the International Dimension. Clare has an MFL website http:// and blogs at Twitter:  @valleseco Lisa Stevens is a primary teacher and PLL and International Coordinator at Whitehouse Common Primary School, eTwinning Ambassador, Apple Distinguished Educator, Language Coach for her Local Authority, consultant and speaker. Lisa blogs at Twitter:  @lisibo


Technology in Modern Foreign Languages

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