The course “Teaching languages in the digital era: the best apps, web platforms and ICT solutions for learning languages” took place in Bologna from 14/11/2021 to 20/11/2021. There, 11 participants from Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Belgium, Lithuania, and Poland had the pleasure to met each other: Veronika and Daniel from Brno University of Technology, Monica, Lilianan and Alexandra from Liceul de Informatica Tiberiu Popoviciu, Antonio from San Marciano José Colegio diocesano Santa Cruz, Ella and Sofie from Heilig Hartinstituut Heverlee, Rita form Public Service Language Centre, Jessie from CVO Semper, Radomil from Technikum TEB Edukacja w Bielsku-Bialej..
“Learn tools for debates and boosting critical thinking”
“Create a video about grammar topics using interesting graphics”
“Create a range of vocabulary exercises as well as listening comprehension tasks"
Participants explored the potentials of Google Jamboard to create visually captivating lessons and whiteboards. They also used it as a tool to present themselves in a digital way.
Several tools were then explored with the aim of discovering the power of multimedia and videos in teaching languages. The teachers found Powtoon extremely engaging thanks to the cartoon effects and engaged in creating grammar presentations and videos to recap content. Participants found then Canva and its user-friendly interface as one of the best options to get started in creating engaging worksheet and explainer videos in few click thanks to the may templates available.
Two platforms were then explored to start using game-based learning in language classes. Quizlet and Baamboozle are both making use of flashcards as a tool to practice vocabulary and grammar. Participants had fun particularly testing the Live version of Quizlet and creating their own board games in Baamboozle.
Tools for creating lessons around videos were also tested. Both Ted-Ed and Ed-puzzle allow teachers to turn videos into real listening comprehension tasks by adding questions, notes, voiceovers and discussion prompts.
A powerful platform to learn language in context and train students in building and motivating their argument is Kialo. Participants became highly engaged in testing it, first devising motivating discussion prompts and then taking part into each other debates, and found it very useful either to improve writing and argumentation skills and to prepare for an essay or a classroom discussion.
Other useful web platforms which we explored were Weebly, to get started in web design without the need to code, Socrative, to ask students quick questions and get immediate feedback on their level of understanding, Mentimeter, to create interactive presentation and brainstorm vocabulary.
To use the word of one of our participants, “Before the course I had no idea there were so many great resources available virtually for free”. The tools discovered and practiced during the course all provided an opportunity for teachers to rethink the delivery methods of their language classes, with the aim of getting closer to the (technological) world our students live in.