8 Reasons Technology is Crucial in the #MFL Classroom


So Thursday was our first TLLP meeting. The focus of our project is using technology (particularly iPads in our case) to promote and improve our students’ oral communication.


We had some really great discussion and it was nice to be able to collaborate with others who teach the same grades and subject.  (Due to the nature of the job, this happens rarely as often we are the only Core French teacher in the building).  Part of the discussion today moved towards the access of technology within our schools, but specifically available to Core French teachers.  


I am very fortunate to have 12 iPads that stay in my classroom (I have had these now for 2 years).  This has been revolutionary for my program.  The technology available to the others in our project is varied.  Most of us have at least 5 in our own rooms.  Needless to say, this is not the case for most Core French teachers across our school board, let alone the entire province.  


This frustrates me and is what drove me to apply for my TLLP grant in the first place, as I do believe technology is crucial in the current second language classroom .  In the conversation Thursday, I realized my colleagues feel the same way.


Here are 8 reasons we feel that having technology in a core French (or a second language) classroom is extremely important:


    1. Accountability – you can send students into small groups/or with a partner to have a mini-conversation in the second language.  We all know, most of the time (as soon as they are out of earshot of the teacher) conversation quickly diverts to their first language.  If you send the group with an iPad and have them submit the conversation at the end of class, conversation magically continues in the second language.  What a great form of diagnostic or formative assessment at the same time.
    2. Students Submit their best Work – students are able to record, and rerecord.  They often go into the hall to record their spontaneous conversation or presentation.  (These are situations where they are not writing out what they want to say in advance).  They record their task, and then are encouraged to listen back to their work, reflect on the success criteria, and re-record if necessary before submitting it.  In my opinion, there is no better way to encourage meta-cognitive thinking and self-reflection in a second language when learning how to speak it. 
    3. Less Anxiety to Participate in Class – there are students in every class who are afraid to raise their hand for fear of saying the wrong thing, for fear of pronouncing something improperly, etc.  Recordings give these students a voice.  They all of a sudden choose to participate in class because the audience becomes smaller
    4. Less Anxiety to Present– many of us have found that when students are put on the spot to present in front of their peers in a second language, they become very anxious.  Many become so nervous, that it become nearly impossible to perform.  I was always one of those students who hated presenting, I never force my students into the situation.  If they want to, the choice is theirs.  Otherwise, they record their work for me and submit it online.
    5. Assessment  – being able to use technology for oral recordings and submitting work using a platform such as Google Classroom significantly improves assessment and the feedback that can be provided to students on an individual basis.  Teachers are able to pinpoint specific examples for students that demonstrate strengths and weaknesses.  Students will be able to then take that feedback to improve their finished product because they know exactly what and where to focus.  The technology also lends itself to the teacher’s anecdotal notes, as the feedback (if provided through a platform such as the one mentioned above) will allow the teacher to refer back easily and track the progress of each student.  It creates a sort of digital portfolio for every student throughout the year.
    6. Evaluation – the technology improves the evaluation process because a teacher can listen to the recordings several times.  When a presentation is done live, there is one shot to hear the things required; to make sure your student has hit all of the points required.  When there is a recording, evaluation becomes more objective as the evidence is right there.
    7. Authentic Resources – if the point of a language is to be able to communicate, and the way we get our students to see the value of the language is to set up scenarios that they might actually encounter in their life where they will need to use the language, we need to use authentic resources to support this.  Textbooks are inactive, they don’t change, however the world around us is constantly changing.  The interests of our students in different classes is never the same.  The way to meet the needs of the interests of these different students and to truly access authentic resources to support their second language learning is to use what is available online.  For example, accessing stores websites in French or French flyers.  Reading and ordering food from menus of restaurants in Francophone countries.  Using maps from the different Francophone places to work on giving and understanding directions.  These are just a few examples of the different ways we use technology in our core French classroom to access different authentic resources and students see that it is ‘real’.  Yes, some of this can be collected and brought into the classroom, however only if you have traveled to the different places or have the time to call and ask them to mail you the resources (which not every place is willing to do).  Having technology in your classroom significantly improves student access to authentic resources and keeps the learning resources dynamic.
    8. Real Life Audience – students have the opportunity to become creators of material, not just consumers of which they can share easily online. On page 11 of the FSL Curriculum document it states “When students are unable to interact with French speakers in their community, teachers can use authentic materials, electronic communications, and multimedia resources to support language learning”.  With access to the technology, the walls of the classroom are broken down and as students can now share with people all over the world.  We can use Skype to connect with other French speaking students from across Canada or even around the world, we can use Twitter to connect find out about different holidays people celebrate in Francophone countries, we can blog about our likes and dislikes and have other students comment and ask questions back.   



2 Responses

  1. Oh, the possibilities when you have enough iPads in a 2L classroom. These are all great points. I also imagine centers (to permit for differentiation) with the iPads. Did your school invest in the iPad minis or the original size?

    • Thanks for the great point! Centers! Definitely a great way for differentiation. Also allows students to choose how they want to demonstrate their work at their level for different projects. We have iPad minis in my classroom (I find they work great and are the perfect size). We also have some full size iPads in other rooms as well.

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