By Timmy Sullivan*
As a student who graduated from a 1:1 iPad school that has been praised for its use of technology, I cannot stress enough the importance of technology in the classroom. Whether speaking internationally at conferences or reaching a global audience through my blog, my message remains the same: technology is a means to stimulate student interest, as well as personalize the classroom environment. Below is my list of four reasons why EdTech enhances language learning:
1. Develop Multiple Proficiencies
When learning language, it is extremely important to develop both active and passive proficiencies. Often times learners will only strengthen one set of proficiencies by simply neglecting exposure to the other. For example, a student learning Spanish through explicitly text or audio cues will only develop strong passive proficiencies, while a student practicing only speaking and writing will only strengthen his active proficiencies.
One of the chief reasons why the Rosetta Stone® Language Learning Suite is so powerful is because it addresses both active and passive proficiencies, thus helping to create a “balanced bilingual.” When I was learning Spanish, for example, my decision to use Rosetta Stone was the right one. Rather than continue using a completely worn textbook, I was able to participate in my learning. When I sat down at my computer, I wasn’t just reading text; I was listening to pronunciation and repeating the vocabulary I had just heard. I was thinking. As I puzzled through new vocabulary and more complex sentence structure, I took more notes, listened repeatedly and spoke often as I worked my way to becoming a “balanced bilingual.”
2. Individual Learning Accommodations
One of the great aspects of the Internet is that it works for you. With a plethora of diverse resources, constant availability, and global interconnectedness, there is always an option available to accommodate any learning style. Let’s face it: students are not benefitting from a cookie-cutter, “one-size-fits-all” model of education. By connecting them to the vast resources online, each student can learn the way they do best. Plus, enabling student voice is fundamental in improving interest and success.
3. Authentic Learning Experience
One of the key things to remember when learning a language is to practice. My first piece of advice to anyone learning a new language is to practice whenever you can, with whomever you can; practice reading books, speaking to friends, in the mirror, talk to strangers, listen to songs, write notes, translate signs — do anything! Now, with upwards of 3 billion Internet users, learning a language authentically is easier than ever. As a “travel junkie,” I remain fixated in my belief that travel is the most authentic way to learn language. However, for those who are unable to travel, or the prospect seems impossibly daunting, sitting down at your computer provides an incredible alternative. By simply logging onto Twitter, meeting native friends on Skype, or posting videos on YouTube, you can practice multiple proficiencies while gaining real-time feedback from native speakers around the world.
4. Keep Your Students Engaged
Interest drives learning. When your students are curious and excited, they are engaged. Therefore, it only seems natural to include in the instruction that which students surround themselves with all day: technology. Coming from a 1:1 iPad high school, I can attest to the increase of student interest when permeating the boundaries of a traditional classroom through the open integration of technology. Language learning should always be fun; why not stimulate your students’ interest by using technology?
Technology has played an integral part in my history learning language. I am constantly capitalizing on digital resources as I maintain my Spanish proficiency and continue studying Arabic. As I begin learning Czech in the upcoming months, I am certain Rosetta Stone will be an essential part of the process in order to expose me to both active and passive stimuli.
How has technology enhanced your language learning? Do you have any advice for educators looking to integrate technology into their classroom? Leave us some feedback below to share your success story.
*About the Author
Timmy Sullivan is an 18-year-old bilingual international speaker dedicated to the empowerment of students in public education through student voice.
He is a freelance blogger advocating for the adoption of personalized learning in schools, as well as a public speaker for the advancement of digital citizenship in the lives of students.
As he pursues a degree in political science he is eager to continue campaigning for students at the legislative level.