Teaching Languages Remotely: Must-have Apps

Teaching Languages Remotely

Teaching Languages Remotely: Must-have Apps

Student-centered activities while teaching languages remotely:

I wanted to share a few student centered activities that I loved as a learner and as a teacher to share with you, and I hope you find them helpful. They’re a really positive thing. I think that can come out of all of this, which I know it’s really difficult to find positive things with all the suffering and so many bad things happening.

At least from a teaching perspective is to really create some engaging activities that are student-centered that can help students independently study languages successfully when they’re done with school.

So this first one I just wanted to share with you. It’s called La Vie. It’s a YouTube channel obviously and they have lots of real life videos from France, real life shows, etc. They play lots of trailers. This is great language immersion. You really see it. It’s all French lives, life in French, and it’s one example, so there are so many that we could use but using something like YouTube, that has free access. 

Of course, you’re going to have to fit some of these things to give students a really immersive experience, you know, they can watch they can write a summary, find something that really interests them and is school-appropriate, of course, but the idea rings true we have the ultimate language learning lab online.

Really love language immersion. So technically language immersion. Of course, you’re learning something through comprehensible input in another language that you’re learning content. And of course the language is how the medium is being delivered. One of my very favorite activities for Spanish is to do something that involves TPR-Total Physical response. YouTube is a great resource for salsa.

This is a really fun one that a friend introduced to me some years ago called but Batuka, and so this gives great brain breaks if you’re in your physical classroom or students can spend some time doing this. You can send them the link on Google Meet.

How to play the guitar, you could learn history through watching documentaries, you could learn to watch current events news if that interests you you can learn cooking and French there’s so many possibilities, but I absolutely love it.


So fluency journals. I’m a huge fan of fluency journals. I do these as regularly as I can.

This is great for independent language learners. And this is a great time to assign something students sent you to your class.

So basically, students. You would give them tasks to write about and would actually have to physically- write it, you can have them do it on a Google doc. I personally don’t like to do that, especially when we’re doing distance learning. I like to do it as an independent learner for a couple of reasons. I’ll talk about in a second basically give them a topic family whether something and you set a timer and they write and you can give students.

A few prompts for a week for them to do whatever you’re studying. And I’d have them handwrite it and maybe they can send you a picture of it if that’s not possible. Google Docs works. But of course Google Docs, you have the danger of the Google Translate, which is a feature. I really like when I do journaling because I can look up words, but I’m there to learn for sure. So it’s I’m not using it as a crutch and

Using it as a tool, so consider that of course, but it’s really powerful to fluency journals because you’re going to write just for a short focused period of time. Don’t worry about perfection. Don’t worry about errors. They can actually turn these into you at some point. They can maybe once a month scan the pages a similar idea for your perhaps more artistic kids.

Would be to draw doodles. Drawing- so I’m a terrible artist. I’m not particularly artistic. And I have terrible handwriting, but I have a lot of kids that are wonderfully artistic. They’re wonderfully talented and I don’t worry about the fact that I’m not talented at art. I still do these activities. This is another way to use journals that’s really fun and student-centered. They could put their feet up, be away from the computer, pick whatever vocabulary set you’re doing. I have here a salad which of course, would be food. You can do a buffet table. You can make a person made a food, you can where you live, likes and dislikes, aliens, gardens- whatever fits into whatever you’re doing.

And students are going to draw and label everything you can and then they can write about themselves. So for example, I might write about my face, or what I look like, and I would write a paragraph about myself. This is a great activity that’s very student-centered and really enjoyable. I really enjoy doing them even though I’m not artistic. I’m not very good at all.

Vision boards. 

I absolutely love vision boards and I think regardless of whether you’re spiritual or not.

This is a great activity- really engaging, really fun to do. There’s lots of apps that make great vision boards, but traditional cut out magazines.

I loved you this the first day back in January because everyone’s tired cut out pictures have them ready to go. They can copy, cut and paste.

And then in your target language, they can write about it. It becomes a prompt you can talk about your wishes for the new year and your dreams for the future. The possibilities are endless here. I like to use it to do goal-setting and use the subjunctive. I teach Spanish. Use a future chart or handout for beginning learners. It can be a matter of you know, find 20 things. You want to see in your future and they actually have to hand write and those or as you see here on this example, there are nice labels that they’ve done in the computer but a change of pace activity away from the computer would be my choice one for students. Choice two could be if they enjoy the computer, there are lots of apps that can make these. 

I also want to show you a sort of spoken version of a fluency journal and that’s recording for fluency. I talk about that in another presentation, but I wanted to share with you just an example of what that looks like. I’m going to share with you just about 30 seconds.

Every week I do a recording. I talked about what I’ve been doing that week for my five weeks. So I like to change up my language learning every five weeks. I keep it really simple. It’s only intense during the summer because I don’t have time for that during the school year. A lot of times my language learning is on my commute or in the morning or something that fits. My walk, my cleaning: something that fits into my life realistically because I’m busy, as passionate as I am about languages. I really don’t have that much each time to study but I like keeping it in my life for all kinds of reasons. And so in this particular five weeks I did binge watching on Netflix in French. I watched lots and lots of French so I recorded myself every week and I talked about what I did. So here’s just a short sample.

So just a quick example. Obviously, my topic wasn’t particularly exciting. I’m sharing it with you. It’s a little bit embarrassing, as you can hear. I’m not a C2/Advanced High speaker of French, but I can speak French. And that’s one way I was able to do that was by recording myself fairly regularly and you can assign focused recording projects as well for your students.

Pinterest for teaching languages remotely

Pinterest is one of my very favorite tools for learning and teaching languages. And right now during remote learning, it is absolutely invaluable and I’m just going to share with you a few ways for you to use this. 

The first way is, it’s a search engine. So Pinterest is one of the biggest search engines. So whatever you want to look for, let’s just look.

French distance learning, and there’s so many activities there and these bloggers are pinning to Pinterest to share them

Anything you want to find. Let’s see Spanish remote learning. Let’s check it out. Look at this. Amazing. People are here sharing. Your colleagues are out here sharing. So it’s a great great, great resource.

Doing group projects 

One way I love to use Pinterest is to do group projects. And right now we have to get really creative with our projects for obvious reasons. It is critical for teaching remotely.

So depending on what your rules are, you can make a group board. So let’s just create a group board and name it whatever. And you can invite people to your board. And you might pick something like, My Dream Wardrobe: that has been one of my favorites. I had a group of Pinterest lovers one year, and we did this project. It was really fun, and they had to plan a certain number of wardrobes. I think it was we did for seasons, and for different outfits for those seasons and they did they went way above and beyond. They had to not just find these things from Spanish stores in the Spanish-speaking world, they had to, caption them and then they all commented on each other. So, of course we kept student  identity private. Your district probably has something that allows students to do online activities. Of course, follow the guidance from your district, but I just it was such a fun activity and it couldn’t be a more useful way to engage authentically in language and culture than right now when we’re remote planning with group boards.

Professional development while teaching languages remotely.

So there are a lot of teachers out there who are happy to share what they’re doing. You can get classroom tours. You can get already made lesson plans links to things like Teachers Pay Teachers specific lessons that can really make your life a whole lot easier.

Another way you can use Pinterest right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding without my commute, I have a little bit more time on my hands and I definitely want to try to make the most of it. I’ve done some professional development. I did a couple of courses so far on the weekend to try to learn a bit more about tech so I can be more helpful to my students my colleagues and just know a little bit more in general, and get my my recertification hours out of the way, but you can find again because this is a search engine.

Tons of resources for teaching remotely. So I’m typing in professional development for language teachers who I put 3 s’s, I didn’t mean to do that.

Look at all these hashtags and blogs. My best professional development oftentimes comes from the independent study and polyglot community. The polyglot community is this passionate group of language enthusiasts online. A lot of them have learned their language almost completely online, and they share apps and resources and word lists. They have to get together every year at something called the polyglot conference.

First they’ve met in Japan and in Iceland, I think they’re going to Mexico this year is planned at this point anyway, but these people have they’re highly motivated. I know that that doesn’t often times describe necessarily our audience, but they have some really good takeaways that translate beautifully in into the classroom. So I definitely try to learn from them. 

And one of the most important lessons that you can get, I think are resources from Pinterest is self-care. So I just want to share with you.

Okay essential oils. I’d love essential oils and I’m constantly finding resources for essential oil diffuser mixes, and I love them. 

I found ones that are energizing for my classroom.

I found things for spring summer winter fall different moods, different times of the day, different days of the week. Self-care is vital, especially when teaching languages remotely.

It’s been absolutely amazing, but it doesn’t just stop there. I mean you can look up anything that you love: recipes, yoga, close home organization ideas, there’s so many great ways. Ideas to help you take care of yourself and I can’t tell you how important that is. I know as teachers we give so much and we spend so much time trying to make the best experiences for our students. 

A lot of us just naturally we care about other people and we want to help and we spend a lot of time doing things creating lessons, going over things, organizing things and I think sometimes we just naturally we always have so much to do, we put ourselves last and if there’s anything that we can do for ourselves, it’s take care of ourselves. This is no different when we are teaching languages remotely. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, it’s really hard to be at our best and to take care of others.

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