5 Ideas for MFL Teaching Using a Virtual Language Lab
Jan 24, 2014 Teaching Methodology 5094 Views
The term modern foreign language (MFL) is used to distinguish between foreign languages that are currently in use such as French and German and dead classic languages such as Latin, Classical Chinese, Attic Greek, and Sanskrit.
One of the most popular methods to teach MFLs is the language lab. A language lab is an audio-visual or audio installation that is used to aid language teaching. Students get to learn through audio, video, flash-based games, and the Internet. A standard language lab features several student terminals that have PCs with headsets that have microphones attached and a teacher’s master console. The teacher is able to control the entire system. The teacher is able to track learners’ work and to alter materials to fit students’ individual requirements. Students are able to record their own voice for future playback and to interact with teachers and other students.
There has been a shift away from the PC-based, software-only language labs that are located in a single roof, room-to-room, or campus-to-campus. The move from fixed networks and related Microsoft OSs to online browsers has made it possible for students to access language labs virtually from their home PCs and even from Smartphone, tablets, and other hand-held, Internet-enabled devices. The new ‘cloud’ labs or virtual language labs offer convenience since students can learn whenever they want from wherever they are and they offer cost benefits and anonymity. So, what are the best MFL teaching ideas using a virtual language lab?
1) Students can use virtual language labs to do language exercises after every chapter. Language exercises are important because teachers are able to determine if students have mastered what has been taught. Teachers are also able to identify weak students who they can then assist separately without interfering with the rest of the class. Students are also able to take exams at the end of the course. Universities and other training institutions even award certificates after students take exams.
2) A virtual language lab can be used by students to listen to audio and recorded speech and to watch videos chosen by the teacher. This is an effective way to learn because students are able to learn proper pronunciation and to use the words they learn in their proper context.
3) Students can interact with each other to rehearse what they learn in class with a virtual language lab. This interaction is important because students are able to learn from each other. Virtual language labs allow shy students who would not actively participate in a brick and mortar classroom to properly participate in class.
4) Teachers can use flash-based games, music, and movies to help break monotony. These games, music, and movies also help students with context and with proper pronunciations. Students learn better and have greater psyche to attend classes when the pressure of exercises is eliminated.
5) Studies have shown that human beings learn best when teaching is done in a structured manner. A teacher can use a virtual language lab to take students through the course topic by topic, chapter by chapter and book by book. All teaching should start with the basics such as the alphabet, numbers, time, date, salutation, common verbs and so on. With a virtual language lab, teachers are able to instruct students and to ask questions and students are able to answer questions and to interact with each other. Teachers can instruct students on the eBooks to read and they can even give assignments.
Virtual language labs should not be used in isolation if you want to learn a MFL quickly and effectively. You should consider other learning methods such as visiting a Francophone country and buying books.
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