The classroom environment is the core element in producing a productive learning experience. This critical element needs energy, involvement, collaboration and innovation form both students and educators to meet the required 21st century skills for a successful learning experience. The students’ passive listing and the teacher being the main driving force of the learning process is a thing of the past and does not provide an ideal classroom setting in our time. Tech-Infused foreign language classroom reshaped the learning landscape and process, as it brought the students’ attention and participation to the highest level compared to the traditional classroom setting. My ideal language lab is a place where the language curriculum is meaningful to my students and is facilitated using technology. This paper will discuss some important foreign language (learning) topics and the most ideal way that technology can be infused into the learning process. First, the paper will give a brief understanding of the topic, then will explain the task associated with, followed by three different technology tools for each topic that can be infused into the lesson to enhance its effectiveness. The main topics that will be infused with technology are; learning about the target culture, communication within a multi-lingual community and increasing media literacy. Understanding the Target culture: Learning about the culture of the target language is a very essential part in acquiring a foreign language. When students learn about the target culture, it brings awareness to the target language through social aspect. It also provides a deeper understanding of authentic situations. Task: Students will communicate with native students from the target community using technology in an effort to learn about their culture. The non-native students will work in groups to create a survey for thee native speakers. The survey will reflect information about how students in the target community use their time. How much time do native students spend in their culture on homework, leisure activities, community service, family chores, ..etc. FL Students will support the survey’s findings with pictures, videos , and short presentation. Technology Tools used:
Google Docs. is a great free tool that helps students to add their ideas, recommendations, feedback and finalize any document without being tied to classroom hours. It’s simply an electronic file that allows for multiple authors and can be accessed by Google pass. Teachers can also utilize features such as built-in chat and history revision to share documents with their students. In this task students will have the opportunity to collect their information from different resources and compile their suggested questions for the survey in a Google Doc, where they share it with the rest of the group and complete the final product.
Ning.com is a platform that connects communities while sharing text, videos, pictures, audio, email and blogs. It also works great on tables and smart phones. Ning provides better privacy for the students than other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter especially for K-12 students. Teachers need to set up a Ning community for their classes. Although Ning is not a free platform, it is very affordable considering its features and privacy. In this task students will use Ning.com to connect with native students from the target language to learn about their daily routine in order to create helpful survey.
Polleverywhere.com: is an excellent website to collect data by creating as many surveys and send it to as many participants as needed. Non native students will use this tool to send their surveys to the native students group. Answer’s can be shown real time, anywhere from a pc, tables or smart phones. Teachers and students can see the results live on the web and then it can be embed it in a power point presentation.
Communication: FL students should strive to be active communicators in the target language. FL students should always enhance their ability to express their thoughts and understandings, and be able to communicate them orally and verbally.. FL students also need to be able to understand and comprehend information in the target language either by reading or listing to native speaker. Technology can be an excellent and rich environment to enhance communication skills in learning foreign language.
Task: Students will work in groups to research recipes from the target culture. Each student will communicate using the target language to express their own thoughts and preference of a certain recipes to convince the group with. Once every group chooses a recipe, they need to create a presentation using effective technology tools to explain why they chose this recipe, the region it came from and the type of course to share it with the rest of the class. Technology tools used:
Internet Search engine: The sky is the limit when it comes to what can be found on the web.. Search engines come in many names and functions. They also come in many languages which is great for FL students. These features enable the language learner to practice using their target language on these engines which provide more authentic findings. Some of commonly known internet engines are, Google (comes in Arabic ), Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Dogpile… Etc. Students for this task will search the internet about different recipes recopies that relate to the target language / culture.
www.Blogger.com: This is such a great tool for FL students and their teachers, as well to for sharing learning experiences or any tasks in a written form. Using blogs in general enhance the writing and reading skills for FL students. Blogger can be accessed easily with a Google pass, which enables readers and participants to engage in productive conversations, and provide feedback and comments on writing pieces. In this task, students will use their blogs to share their chosen recipes with their classmates and teacher. Students can upload their own videos or pictures to support their choice. Students can follow their classmates’ blogs from a PC, tables or smart phones.
Microsoft Office PowerPoint: Commonly called PowerPoint. It’s part of the Microsoft Office suite that enables users to create presentations composed of informational slides where they can use text, graphics and animation. The users can either display their presentation on projection screens or share it as a stand-alone file. In the latest version of MS PowerPoint students can facilitate more features like embed and edit videos, audio files, and picture editing and co-authering capabilities (great for group work). In this task students will use PowerPoint to crystallize their research work and findings and share it with their classmates in one easy to follow presentation. PowerPoint presentation proves to attract the students attention to the material presented which enrich the communication flow between the students and the teacher during the learning process. Other software can be used for the same purpose Google Drive and Open Office.
3-Media Literacy: The ability to understand, analyze and create personal meaning from the verbal and visual symbols such as in television, radio, computers, newspapers and magazines is called Media Literacy. The importance of the former relies on the opportunities it provides to conclude a clear understanding for the target culture. FL students should collect and evaluate authentic resources to understand how media reflect language and culture. Task: Students will observe and collect news headlined from the target culture and from their home community as well. Students should seek three different forms of media resources to collect their data. One great source is http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/. One of its features is allowing the readers to have a glance at the front page of many international newspapers. Students should analyze their data and determine what sorts of events are considered important for each culture, and the similarities and differences between the two cultures. Conclusions and data analysis can be presented as graphics, audio and video clips. Technology tools used:
Smart Art: After students collect their data from different media resources, it is very important to organize the data to effectively present and share it with classmates and their teachers. Smart Art graphic is a visual presentation tool for information and data. Smart Art gives the choice for the students to organize their data based on the relation behind each category such as, list, process, cycle or relationship. The flexibility in quickly and easily switch the lay out for any Smart Art graphic layout offer the students the tool to experiment with different layouts until they find the best one that help in delivering their message. Free Smart Art graphics is easily downloaded from Microsoft Office website and it’s easily found in the latest version of Microsoft word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
Comic Generator: Using the knowledge to think critically and with innovation is the best way for FL students to enhance their linguistic skills. Non native students will benefit from using their acquired language to create an authentic conversation using comic generators free websites. Some examples for free comic generators are, Strip Generator at http://stripgenerator.com/ and Witty Comics at http://www.wittycomics.com/ , both of them do not require registrations and easy to type Arabic. It’ll help them think and analyze using their target language while enjoying their imagination in creates interesting situations. In this task, students will use comics to illustrate the important news headline in both media in their target culture and their home media. Comic generator appear to bring energy, creativity to the classroom and most importantly give the students more depth for their target language usage which greatly boosts their fluency and comprehension skills.
WWW.Podomatic.com: This website allows users to enjoy as well as create an unlimited number of audio and video files. Podcasting is a powerful tool for any langue classroom environment. It is simply a digital recording that is made available on the internet, that can be downloaded in any personal audio device. There are many links online that provide great instructors on how to use and create podcasting. I found www.FBCINC.com, a complete tutorial for podcasting. This website is a great guide for the students on how to create, record and publish their own Podcasting. In this task, students will search for podcasting that is topic related to one of the headline news that was collected. Students also will create their own podcasting to share their observation and findings about the similarities and the differences between the important media topic between the target and the home culture. Using Podcasting in FL classroom expand the students understanding about the target culture through authentic language used generated by both native and non native speakers.
Technology tools can enhance and promise rewarding results to the FL students. The following Smart Art is one way to illustrate options that empower language classrooms. FL student’s option is as flexible as my Smart Art graphic. We always can expand our knowledge and add other technology tool to explore. It’s noticeable as well in this Smart Art graphic that all different branches that serve learning language overlap. That is no different from my ideal language lab where many technology tools can be infused in different topic within the foreign language curriculum. There is also a very inspired diagram that illustrate learning language using technology in this link, http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/08/teachers-guide-to-21st-century-learning.html where it shows that many resources , tools and gadgets that can influence our learning process and help us as educators to provide the most rich , appealing and effective learning materials to our foreign language students.