Great teachers strive to make learning engaging, interactive, and fun for students. Certain subjects like the visual arts and hands-on sciences may lend themselves well to this. Language learning, on the other hand, has rarely been grouped with “the cool subjects.”
As technology advances, more and more tools have become available that when used correctly can make language learning anything but boring.
As a teacher, you’ve already established a curriculum and methods for teaching your language, so instead of re-writing all of your work, pull from the myriad supplemental opportunities that can be found online to make lessons more engaging and therefore memorable.
Here are five great websites that supplement your lessons, making language learning more interactive and fun.
Sure, YouTube is great for watching videos of kittens being adorable, but have you ever explored YouTube for fun language tools? There are a number of ways to use YouTube as a supplement to your language courses. For example:
- Play the top-rated music videos in the language you teach; have students sing along or translate the lyrics.
- Find scenes from popular television commercials and discuss how their language and culture might make them different from commercials in the U.S.
- Find the foreign version of an American movie and have students discuss what changed because of the language differences.
- Check out popular language teacher Fluency MC and integrate his work in your class.
Here’s another familiar website. If you’ve ever gone on vacation or a day trip, you may have used TripAdvisor to research and plan in advance. In the classroom, you can use TripAdvisor’s multi-lingual options to have your students do the exact same thing—with a twist.
Point your students toward a country where the language they’re learning is spoken, and have them plan out their “dream vacation” in that country. Ask them to read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions—all of which are written in their language of study.
Encourage them to put together an itinerary for their trip, and explain why they chose to visit certain spots.
This is an awesome website that gives your students the “big picture” of languages around the world, including the one they’re learning. The interactive tool allows users to explore interesting statistics about ten different languages.
After a student chooses a language, they can click around an interactive map to explore where in the world that language is spoken while reading fun stats about the language, such as the average length of time and monetary cost to learn that language. This free website would make a great introduction to students’ first year of a foreign language program.
Built and hosted by Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, The Mixxer is a free platform for bringing speakers of different languages together for conversational practice. Individuals can buddy up with a “language partner” who is trying to learn English, and help each other learn their respective language.
There’s even a special tool for teachers to connect their students with native speakers of the language they’re learning. There’s room to practice both speaking and writing, as The Mixxer facilitates both written correspondence and conversations via Skype.
Gamification is growing both in and out of the classroom and for good reason: interactive language games are great tools to get students engaged. The Digital Dialects offers a wide variety of games—all for free—in a whopping 77 languages, from Afrikaans to Zazaki.
Students can choose games based on the assignment: phrases, vocabulary, conjugation, and more. With the wide variety of options available, this website is a versatile tool that will get students excited about language learning.
Tell us about your favorite tools in the comment section below.
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Jessica is an education blogger and has been featured in publications such as EdTech Digest and Daily Genius. Her favorite books growing up were My Side of the Mountain and The Giver, and she hopes to inspire a similar love of reading in students and educators.