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Great new tools for Spring 2007

January 23, 2007 by Doug Worsham

Looking for interactive and collaborative activities to engage your students? L&S Learning Support Services is here to help you discover "the next big thing" in foreign language teaching. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for enhancing language, literature, and culture instruction.

  • Voice and Video Language Exchange - New tools make it easier than ever before for your students to interact with native speakers living in the target culture. L&S LSS can help you and your students find and communicate with language exchange partners using free software applications.
  • VLC media player - The Videolan/VLC Media Player can give you access to high-quality television broadcasts from all over the world over the internet, for free and without a subscription!
  • Online Interviews - Know someone living in the target culture that would make a great guest speaker for your class? L&S LSS can help you record interviews with people living in the target culture, often at no cost! You'll be able to bring new voices into your classroom, and also save quite a bit on airfare!
  • Wikis - Many foreign language teachers are now using interactive web pages called wikis for a side variety of collaborative writing activities. For example, you can use a class wiki to build a comprehensive travel guide for the target area, have students work together in groups to write a "Choose Your Own Adventure" mystery novel in the target language, or start your very own collaborative wiki writing assignment.
  • Voice Tools - This academic year we are helping to pilot Horizon Wimba voice tools for language instructors. This suite of applications allows you to record and send your voice over the Internet. With these online voice tools you can increase oral practice and interaction for your language outside of class.
  • Podcasts - Want to have your students listen to an "idiom of the week" used in context, or have access to texts recorded in different native accents? Try a podcast! Using simple technology you can create audio recordings, or podcasts, which students can then access from any computer or portable music player.
  • Blogs - Want your own class blog? LSS is currently looking for instructors to experiment with this new collaborative writing tool. Blogs are a great way to encourage extensive reading and writing practice, and help students personalize their language learning experience.
  • Foreign Language News, Blogs, and Podcasts - No time to create your own audio materials or update a course website with up-to-the-minute news from the target culture? Don't worry! RSS can do it for you. RSS is a new technology that makes it easy to create a dynamic webpage with information from a variety of sources. Your page can include news, blogs, and podcasts that give your students more language practice as well as a more personal and intimate connection with the target culture.

You'll find more details on these and many other exciting foreign language technology projects at http://babel.lss.wisc.edu/~doug/.

Please be sure to get in touch with us to discuss any instructional technology project you'd like to get started this semester. For more information on any of the facilities or resources L&S Learning Support Services has to offer, please contact Doug Worsham, Foreign Language Technologist, doug@lss.wisc.edu, or Shannon Spasova, Lab Intern, shannon@lss.wisc.edu.

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