The Language Show Live 2012 – What I learnt from Helen Myers

Helen Myers gave a run-down of her favourite language learning ICT tools.

Subscription ones

  • Linguascope: I’ve tried this one myself, and personally I don’t like it, but I know that other MFL teachers love it. What I didn’t realise, that I learnt from Helen Myers, is that once you have paid your subscription, you can use their images in your own resources within the school.
  • Task Magic: I’ve never used this, but it looked quite versatile for creating games – and unlike some MFL software which is biased towards learning vocabulary and set phrases, this one can be used for practising grammar, such as conjugating verbs, as well.
  • Vocab Express: this looked like a good way to help pupils learn vocabulary. There are pictures and audio to go with the written words to aid memorisation. While they are revising, pupils can group the words in any way that makes sense to them, which I think is a great idea. It has automated tests for blocks of words, which means you can set vocab tests to be done in individual learning time and free up lesson time which would have been spent of tests teaching instead.
  • Euro Talk: not much was said about this one, and after looking at the Euro Talk website I still can’t work out how useful it would be. If anyone has used this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Free Ones

  • Mylo: I’ve tried this since the show. You can just go to the website and start playing, or sign up for an account to earn points that you can spend on styling your avatar.  I tried a few activities and found it…how shall I put this?….boring. I thought the graphics were odd at best and extremely confusing at worst (a cube wearing 3D glasses and holding a tub of popcorn to represent “brother”). It’s possibly useful for reading and listening activities, but over the Language Show weekend I saw ICT used in so many new and exciting ways that I was underwhelmed by this one. Having said that – it is free so you have nothing to lose by trying it yourself.
  • Quizlet: I’ve tried this since the show as well. This has a few different types of activity, from flashcards to race against the clock games.  I liked the variety and I can imagine younger children would enjoy some of the games. My only criticism would be that there are no visuals, and I think for some children (and adults!) having a picture alongside the word is an important part of learning new words.
  • MS Office, Windows Movie Maker and Audacity combination: The end product of using a combination of these three tools was a really professional looking video which could be used for introducing or revising vocabulary. It looked quite a time-consuming process, and over on the iPad stand the demonstrator showed how children could create a really similar end product on their own in about 30 minutes. However, if you don’t have an iPad and you do have time to invest then this process would definitely be worth looking into. It involved creating a PowerPoint presentation for the words and pictures, and then combining these pictures and music to make a video. The one they showed had vocabulary for clothing, but they suggested it could also be used for songs, poems, raps, recording news items and modelling conversations.

To see how their school is using ICT in language learning pay a visit to www.ashcombe.surrey.sch.uk

Have you used any of these suggestions in our own classroom? If so what do you think of them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

For language teaching and tuition from beginner to GCSE, visit my website www.sjbteaching.com.

Related posts: The Language Show 2012 – What I Learnt from Rachel Hawkes
The Language Show 2012 – What I Learnt from Isabelle Jones
The Language Show 2012 – What I Learnt from everyone else
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