Language Students: Maintain and Build Your Skills Over the Summer
We all love summer. Teachers and students, we all need that break to recharge. However, the reality is, there’s lots that language students forget over the summer, and we need to review.
Working on your language skills during the summer can be a very effective way to spend time in building your language skills. Stay a language student during the summer.
It’s ideal to travel and study abroad, but the reality is, many of us won’t be doing that this summer. Check out these resources for some great ways to maintain and build your language skills over the summer.
I love Quizlet! Lots of language teachers are on Quizlet. We upload sets of vocabulary to use. Language students can go on and use that set of vocabulary and flashcards, puzzles, lots of different games. You can even export these vocabulary sets into Google Sheets or Excel, and create tab separated values. Import these into Anki, and you have this great spaced repetition activity.
You can find Quizlet vocabulary by themes: family in French, or Japanese greetings, for example. But you can also find them by textbook. If you have a certain textbook that you use, you can find all the vocabulary from that and play tons of games all summer long- a great way to keep up with the specific themes you studied over the year.
This is a fun little app created in the U.K. The creator of Flash Academy was an engineer who wanted to learn Spanish. He decided to color code words based on the different parts of speech, and started labeling his environment in Spain. This led to tons of ideas and the evolution of his product. These post-it notes can be posted around, but they also have a scanner that will pronounce the word for you. Take a picture, scan, and get the word. For example, take a picture of a door, and it will find how to say the door in the language that you’re studying.
The fun part is that it has tons and tons of games. Really addicting, and similar to DuoLingo. There’s a basic version that’s free, but there’s another version where you can find at their website. Order the post-its that go along with the app. It’s available in several languages. Addicting and fun.
I stumbled upon an earlier version of this find about 20 years ago, and I am in love with it as ever. It’s a simple little program that you can install on any computer, and play games at three different levels. The games for the beginning level are so much fun. The presenters will speak to you completely in the target language. You need to click around (like TPR- Total Physical Response) to select the right one.
You can do the program over and over again until you’ve mastered it. It’s so much fun. It also has dictionaries and some pronunciation guides. Super useful, fun and addicting.
As I understand it, Learnables is essentially an early version of Rosetta Stone. I’ve not tried Rosetta Stone, so I can’t really speak about it.
The Learnables is a similar idea to the Instant Immersion program, which I’m very pleased with. Basically, you are immersed in the target language and you are required to be an active participant to move forward with all the games.
This site is absolutely brilliant. Italki has native speaking language tutors from all over the world. You connect with them on Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, and do a lesson. It is a fantastic way to accelerate your progress and get comfortable speaking with a native speaker. You can even record by using YouTube Live and Google Hangouts. You can review your lesson and listen later. What a great way to build confidence in communicating with native speakers!
Feeling too shy to speak to a native speaker, or you feel your student is too shy? Use these two apps record yourself. While I will admit that it’s very strange at first to talk to yourself, it’s a highly effective way to build your skills and maintain them over the summer.
I would suggest to beginning students to use a textbook (or whatever program they’re using) and bullet point out the things they want to practice and speak. As you become more comfortable, you’ll start speaking in longer and longer and longer sentences. That’s how you become fluent.
Voice Memos is great for your phone, and Vocaroo is built on desktop. Record yourself once a week for eight or nine weeks over the summer, and you will be astounded at your progress.
Last but not least, DuoLingo. DuoLingo gets better and better. You can use the desktop version or the mobile version. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it’s a great way to build your skills. You can do it anywhere you have a phone or an internet connection. There’s games, there’s chat bots, reading and stories. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s addictive.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Reading, journaling, watching Netflix or videos on Yabla or YouTube in the target language are fantastic ways to immerse yourself in languages over the summer. Have fun and stay language students!
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