Learning Event 2020: Teaching MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) with Apps
- The best apps for teachers and educators
- 25 Tips For Teaching With Apps
- Best Apps for Teachers in 2020
5 apps help you to improve speaking skills in the MFL classroom
This page serves to give you an overview of 5 of the best apps for practising speaking skills in any foreign language (depending on the availability of the app, of course) that you can use to improve your students’ speaking skills and of course also culture exchange anytime, anywhere on all of their mobile devices.
1. Lingo Blabla
Lingo Blabla is an extremely user-friendly app where you can find a partner immediately through just one click. Not only you can practice your desired language anywhere, anytime, and, as an additional bonus, you can also make friends with people from around the world. Via this app, you will improve your speaking skills in a fun and easy way. And, as an added bonus, it’s totally free of charge as well.
The only downside of this app is that some partners might have accents due to most users being non-native speakers. There are also no professional speakers to correct your grammar but I would still recommend this app – why not give it a go straight away?
Duolingo supports more than 20 languages, including of course also English. The app is fun-oriented, meaning the learner moves through both grammar and vocabulary lessons disguised as games. Compared to other apps like Mondly and Memrise, Duolingo thus has a strong focus on the motivational character of learning a language and the games are very well liked by students of a younger age. This approach makes the app more fun than other, more serious apps for learning and teaching languages. Another bonus are the bite-sized lessons that make language learning possible on the go.
Duolingo also uses Ai to recognize different accents when speaking, it is free, and also allows you to see your personal progress in the learning process with a road map and progress trackers.
However, the app does not have any support for tutoring by video chat or for any interaction with other students.
Still, it is highly recommendable.
Speaky’s is an app with a worldwide language learning community, which allows students to interact with people from over 180 countries with a potential of more than 110 languages! I am sure every learner of a given language will be able to find a partner, especialy since Speaky has many filtering options.
Through its massive language community, you will be able to find the perfect partner that shares the same interests and passions like your students.
The app is also great because it is yet again free, has an integrated chat function and allows calls to your partner directly from your browser as well – unfortunately, this function does not work in the app.
Speaky allows you to hit off your speaking skills instantly. Why not try it straight away?
4. Cambly (for learning English ONLY; costs occur)
Cambly connects English learners from all over the world with private, native-English-speaking tutors. Any student can choose a class flexibly according to their schedules and abilities (examples of classes are “IELTS practice” or “intermediate level tutoring”).
However, it has a pay as you go system meaning it can be quite pricey, especially if you want to practise a lot with your tutor.
Unlike the previous apps, the Hinative app works on the basis of a question and answer forum.
Any student wanting to learn a given language can register for free and ask the community about pronunciation, vocabulary, and even request quick translations. You can also ask for people to correct texts that you wrote and to clarify ambiguous terms.
This means of course that students need to have a rather advanced level of the language they are learning and HiNative is especially useful when preparing for international exams like the Cambridge Certificate, for instance.
It also features a very large and active user community that is more than happy to help learners of a foreign language but please bear in mind that unlike other apps, it does not allow private messages. This means you cannot really practise your speaking skills in speaking as the Q&A mode uses a more written conversation format.
Despite HiNative being a free app, some more premium features come with a price.
In order to make your students profit even more this website offers a great choice of even more apps to improve your students’ public speaking skills, make them present in groups or overcome their fear of public speaking in general:
Introduction to apps III – Apps for teaching MFL: Reading
Do your students look like this girl when reading in your language class?
Whether they do or don’t, any good class can profit from apps that deal with improving students’ reading skills.
1. Read Along for younger students
Even better when they are free (due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis) like the Readalong app provided for by Google which uses speech recognition technology to give feedback to the students in nine languages, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
It now works in 180 countries and is addressed at younger students who are guided through the learning process by a reading buddy called Dyia. This buddy is aiming at giving positive feedback like a parent or teacher, allowing students to tap Dyia at any time they need help for pronouncing a word or a sentence.
This is a lovely screenshot from the app – don’t you think it looks very motivating for young learners of languages?
The app will also work entirely offline but new stories can only be downloaded when connecting to Wi-Fi again.
Hopefully, your younger students will like the app as much as I did and fingers crossed as well that other languages will be available soon.
2. Six apps for improving the reading skills of older students
Unlike children, for older students and teenagers reading is not as much fun any more, and they probably will use other ways to dive into a world they could be creating on their own when reading.
In order to make them get back to an imaginary world like the one pictured below, maybe one of the apps to follow will re-new their interest in reading in general and a foreign language in particular.
The following website, the language learning app Fluentu’s educational blog, shows you other apps that are more suitable for teaching MFL reading skills to high school teachers.
It also gives very valuable examples on how to integrate the apps mentioned when teaching MFL so I hope you will find this page equally useful than some of the other apps mentioned.
1. Apps to be used for practicising pronounciation
This is the first round of smaller apps to be used with a different approach than you normally would:
2. Apps (and other non-app based activities) to be used for practicising listening skills in MFL
3. Game-based apps to be used in a fun way in the MFL classroom
Here are some more examples of fun and game-based apps to practise your (English) vocabulary with friends and other students in order to become fluent and near-native in any chosen language:
You will find even more useful apps here:
Especially the Beelinguapp sounds very promising indeed – you might have come across some of the other apps already.
Introduction to apps V – Apps for teaching MFL: Writing
again for the next task to be covered in this Module: Writing skills, which are undoubtedly not so popular with most students. This makes it all the more necessary to use enganging apps and activities in the MFL classroom in order to change just that.
Let’s start diving into a whole range of ideas!
1. Resources by the website Teachitlanguages
In order to improve your students’ writing skills, especially Tasks 1, 2, 7. and 8 seem to be a great way to engage students of MFL to writing in the target language, whatever language that might be.
2. Using the website/app Lexiforms
Have a go at their website here:
3. Valuable tips from MFL teachers in the UK
For the rest of you who think this is a rather intriguing idea, I would highly recommend Isabel’s slideshare to be found here:
And if this slideshare hasn’t been enough, I think it is time to share a massive slideshare of 208 (!) pages with you with tips for any part of MFL teaching, and the writing part description focussing on the likes of the Textivate website for app-based writing activities (to be found here: www.textivate.com) and many other activities that can easily be adapted to be used with Learningapps and other apps that you have got to know so far.
Find Danielle’s tips here:
4. Storytelling as a writing exercise
If you are teaching primary students, you will simply love the cute pictures on display next. In case you are a secondary teacher. don’t worry – with the help of apps that you have gotten to know during the Learning Event so far like Comiclife (https://www.comiclife.eu/download.html)and recording apps like Voki (https://l-www.voki.com/), it shouldn’t be a problem at all to create a similar storybook for your students to fill with life, with also makeing them use their writing skills in any MFL classroom.
The adorable examples shown are in the Spanish language and can either be found at https://www.pictotraductor.com/ (this website makes you write a sentence/word in Spanish and then you will receive the pronounciation of the phrase by a native speaker but also has video tutorials on show to help you create your own narratives) ot you can also check out the cute videos with short stories in Spanish to be found here https://www.pictocuentos.com/ for further inspiration on how to use storytelling when teaching your students writing skills in MFL.
1. 10 of the best apps to teach grammar
At least this is what the following website promises:
2. A different approach to teaching grammar with the help of short videos
If you are bored of reading by now and can totally relate to your student’s aversion of (grammar) books, why not try something different in your MFL classroom with the help of flashy Flashacademy’s grammar tutorials?
These are only available for teaching English as a foreign language but literally cover any aspect of it that you can think of, from rather basic grammar topics like the tenses, different types of sentence structures or conjunctions to more complicated matters such as semicolon, ellipsis and bullet points.
A big plus: The idea of a video of the week, which could serve as an inspiration to have your own students create one themselves and have a little competition for even more fun. It is also a great way to combine one or more of the apps you have got to know during this Learning Event.
The amazing array of videos can be found at Flashacademy’s website:
3. Apps for teaching grammar on iPad exclusively
If you are proud owners of iPads when teaching MFl, look no further than this website as it has a wide range of apps to be used to make grammar fun:
4. Apps designed to improve the grammar of a specific language
Numerous other apps that are of course free and help learners of German increase their vocabulary and other fun ways of learning German that are more game-based can be found on the Goethe-Institut’s headquarters’ page here:
However, this section being about grammar only, I would like to point out the app mentioned at the very bottom of her page, Palabra Correcta (http://www.palabracorrecta.com/) that addresses grammar-related topics only.