As language teachers, many of us agree that technology is useful for assisting our instruction. Videos, animations, virtual tours, audio clips, interactive games, self-correcting quizzes and digital online resources are some of the possibilities offered through technology. Until recently, technology based learning events have been delivered on institutional workstations, laptops or tablets. The personal device revolution is migrating learning events/objects to mobile device applications or apps.
For security reasons, institutions have been organized to control digital resources. This includes networks, hardware, software, online subscriptions and website access. The advent of Bring Your Own Technology or B.Y.O.T. tests this control. The challenge for language instructors is to keep the students on task while on individual devices. As well, teachers will be overwhelmed with the number of app offerings. Over the past few decades, we have relied on instructors to ensure that TESL technology integration is suitable for facilitating language learning and providing a safe learning experience for our students. Hopefully, this trend will continue, and as teachers experiment with apps they will share their recommendations with blog posts, articles, workshops and conference presentations.
Are you already using BYOT?
Many language teachers use B.Y.O.T. without even recognizing it. Examples of this are:
- using a messaging app in group mode to communicate with students
- asking students to refer to an online translator app
- assigning students to run through vocabulary flashcards via an app (Quizlet)
- using a map app to practice giving directions
- playing a game using the Kahoot app
Each of these examples oblige students to use a mobile device to participate.
There are a bounty of apps that target the individual learner in the language learning community. Marketing campaigns, at times, tout that their app will allow them to learn a needed language. This is off putting to language teaching professionals as we know that there is no ‘silver bullet’ in the language acquisition process. However, if we strip away the marketing hype and focus on what these apps can offer us as instructional tools, we may advance our students’ learning. I guess I am asking – is it time to embrace apps as common tools in our classrooms?
Have some reservations?
Most of us may have some reservations about using these apps in our teaching due to:
- the overwhelming number of available apps available
- fear of losing control over learning events
- technical issues such as repair, charge, subscription, advertising overlays
- managing multiple apps in a single course
- mapping the apps to the course outcomes
Consider these apps to get started…
Six apps that I have found have potential for use in a B.Y.O.T. language teaching and learning situation are: (there are many more)
I will be experimenting further with apps this academic year and hope to share my experience in the future. Give it some thought and bring up the potential of apps to your centre/institution.
If you have any experience or ideas related to apps in the classroom post them below.
Links to listed apps in this blog:
- Babbel https://www.babbel.com/mobile
- BUSUU https://www.busuu.com
- DuoLingo https://www.duolingo.com
- (language) Drops http://www.languagedrops.com
- Memrise https://www.memrise.com
- Mosalingua https://www.mosalingua.com/en