As language teachers we have the most fantastic array of digital tools and resources available for every part of the curriculum. I’ve listed a few but there are literally hundreds of thousands I haven’t listed. Use the comment feature below to add to this list and we can build up a resource for everyone to share.
Reading and Viewing
- JK Rowling has made her books available for teachers to use for the next few months as open source readers! How about setting up Harry Potter Readathons?
- If you’d like African stories told in African languages, the very best place to go is Nal’ibali. Their stories are incredible and if you feel like donating to help them create more, well that’ll just be dandy!
- Reading for children 12 and under could not be easier with the EPIC library.
- Newsela is brilliant for content and teaching resources, and our North American teachers will love the alignment to standards and national frameworks. They’ve also made their resources free to use!
- CommonLit is free for teachers to use and what an amazing reading resource. It doesn’t seem to be available in all regions, but their ideas for teaching reading at all levels are fantastic!
- If little ones are still learning to read, the wonderful program, Reading Eggs, is available on Apple and Google Play.
Listening and Speaking
- Getting learners to listen to each other and comment online is another skill altogether. There are different tools you can use. Padlet is one – they can leave a note, a video recording or a voice recording depending on what you ask for.
- Podcasting is a fantastic tool to develop learners’ listening and speaking skills. I love Chris Hitchcock and Amy Presley’s Power of Podcasting for Teaching and Learning presentation, The New York Times produced these great lesson plans on how to produce podcasts. They can also make podcasts using WhatsApp recordings and share it to WhatsApp groups or similar apps.
- Then there’s Audible incredible library of podcasts and audiobooks that they made available for free. What a tool to transform listening and speaking!
Writing and Presenting
- Toontastic is an inventive Google app that allows learners to create the most magical stories.
- ePals Classroom Exchange encourages learners to write creatively in their home and/or additional languages, conduct research and gather information about other cultures and languages.
- Get your learners journaling with Penzu or Diary, or blogging about their time in isolation with EduBlogs or Blogger. They generally only need a Gmail account to get going. If you don’t have access to the internet all of the time, consider creating templates for them to keep a diary in, for example, Google Docs/Slides or Microsoft Word/PowerPoint. When they connect online they can email these to you or share it to your Google Drive.
- Creating cartoons and comic strips can be done on tablets, phones or the laptop with Bubblr or MakeBeliefComix. You can also download the templates and send it via WhatsApp to them. I’ve also seen learners use the ShareIt App to share templates with each other using Bluetooth.
Language Structures and Conventions
- If you’re looking for lesson ideas and specifically HyperDocs on Grammar and all things Language, pop on over to the HyperDoc Drive. It’s brimming with diamonds, pearls and rubies!
- Microsoft created a trove of online tools for Language teachers to explore.
- When you’re teaching Language Structures and Conventions, also have a look at Hypothes.is. It’s a great tool for teaching reading but can just as well be used for teaching parts of speech etc. Learners work together to annotate a web page or text you send them. You can also share documents on Google Docs as can comment and learners can annotate this in a similar way.
When you’re presenting online lessons, there’s a certain distancing that takes place and it’s difficult to know if the kids are actually paying attention. There are different ways to keep them engaged.
- If you’re pre-recording videos, consider uploading your video to YouTube. If you have a Gmail address you can make your own YouTube channel. You can load your videos as UNLISTED that means only your learners can see it. Then make use of EdPuzzle and add questions into the actual video that your children have to answer before they can continue watching.
- Another way is to create your presentation in Google Slides for example and then use Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype to present it live. If you want to check that learners are paying attention, you use PearDeck. PearDeck allows you to build in different interactive activities to assess if your learners are with you and how their learning is progressing.
- You can assess their learning with Google Forms – share the link at the end of the video.
- Language teachers also Kaizena for assessments because they can leave notes on all sorts of platforms, video, Pdfs or text.
Language teaching can be truly innovative in this time. Think along cross-disciplinary lines and incorporate pedagogies like project-based learning. Use skills learners already have like selfies and video recording – let’s face it, this generation knows how to film themselves. Think of ways to use these skills for learning.
Australia’s Centre for the Moving Image and the Victoria State Government created the Filmmaker’s Toolkit for young filmmakers. It encompasses all the language skills from storyboarding, screenwriting, listening and speaking, reading, editing and presenting. One of the best resources for the language teacher! How can you incorporate this excellent online course in a 2 – 3 weeks learning task for your students?
This article was originally published in the Teacha! Magazine Issue 3.2.
Read the latest Teacha! Magazine here .