Study Techniques You Need To Teach Your Language Students
You are confident that the scope and sequence of your lessons, and that your lesson plans are well structured. You know that your preparation will get your language students meeting your the learning objectives, as long as they do what you say.
Then, why do you need to teach your language students how to study?
Well, there are two principal reasons. First, most of your student will not do everything you tell them to. So you need to teach them the best actions to take while acting with a degree of autonomy.
Second, and possibly most important, there is a long road to take when gaining proficiency in any language. Take a look at the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, and you’ll see that so much learning and practical application goes into the 11 levels of leading to error-free language production.
The next question is, what can you tell your students they can do outside of class to work toward language proficiency? This article will give a few great ideas to get started.
Yes, I am starting this list of study practices with an app. Specifically I am recommending Duolingo because they are dedicated to studying languages in a fun and no stress way. If your students are just getting started with learning the language, they can begin with the lower levels of Duolingo. If your students are more advanced learners, they can take skip ahead by taking one of the “shortcuts”.
One of the main reasons why I like Duolingo is because it stands by is main mission of making learning free and fun. If your students are competitive (I bet they all are to some extent), they will be motivated to practice language by competing against those who they follow. If you create a Duolingo classroom, you can have your students compete against each other for points, rewards, and levels.
Now for a note about the content. You may think that Duolingo is not a good study choice for your students, because the vocabulary that is being taught is not in your scope and sequence. Well, your students likely have a goal of proficiency, full stop. With Duolingo, they will be studying language at their appropriate level. They will also practice predicting mean, correct spelling, and language as it naturally exist. No verb conjugation charts here. Students learn grammar in applied settings surrounded by lots of vocabulary. This is a great addition to formal language study.
If you’ve read my previous article on how to get students learning a language through kinesthetic activities, you know that I am a huge Quizlet fan. For this article, I want to specifically point out the “Learn” feature. This feature will put the material into an adaptive plan that will have you practicing the content in a myriad of different ways.
Your student may demonstrate that he can get an answer right as a multiple choice, but not as a fill in the blank. Quizlet’s Learn will give more practice to what the learner needs to practice more. The feature keeps track of your progress, and let’s you know when you seem ready for an assessment.
One other excellent feature about Learn is that you can set deadline for when a set of content needs to be learned, and the app will give you reminders for when to study. For students that need help sticking to deadline, which is nearly all of them, this feature is excellent for keeping learners on their toes.
Extra Practice From The Book
If you have a textbook for your class, then you probably also have more support activities in the supplemental materials than you can actually use. If you structure your course to use the textbook as a resource, students can dive into the practice questions as additional practice.
This strategy may be preferable for students who need to practice the building blocks of a language. Or maybe a student has a parent who wants to help them with your class, but the parent doesn’t know the language themselves. Textbooks often give examples to follow so that someone does not need to have advanced skills to be able to complete the exercises.
I would use this strategy for students who really needed help in my class. I would have the answers for any textbook activity ready in my class, so as part of their study plan, students could quickly check their answers with me close-by. This way I could help to clear up any doubt that they had.
Technology Assisted Speaking
Speaking is one of the later skills to develop for students in a traditional language learning environment. Luckily though, students can be their own good judge of wether they are using correct pronunciation when they read aloud. They can use Vocaroo to record themselves reading aloud. Then they can play back their own recordings, and keep trying until they think they sound better.
Another test of correct pronunciation is using the voice to text feature of Google Docs. First though, make sure that the language is correctly set using the File menu. With this feature, the student can read text aloud, and have Google docs type what they are saying. If the technology understand them, they’ll know they are on the right track. If the technology doesn’t understand what they are saying, they will know they need to slow down and articulate better.
Real Life Practice
In a previous article, I wrote how students can immerse themselves in learning Spanish. That article is chalk full of ways that Spanish language learners can listen to authentic language in the form of videos, films, streamed TV shows, and podcasts. Then there’s also music and written news.
Students need to remember that the goal of learning a language should be proficiency, and not learning a specific set of vocabulary. Real life practice is the best way to hear and see how language is authentically. This is so much of a better way to study language than out of a textbook activity that does not simulate real applications of language.
Summing It Up
Students should remember that they should strive for proficiency in your language class. This way they will be able to apply what they learn in a real life situation. This article has addressed study tools for additional practice that involve apps, digital content, and some analogue content. Remember that there is so much support out there for you to help your students. Keep in mind Duolingo, Quizlet, and more traditional study methods, and your students will move up proficiency levels like you and they want.