Lingua.ly – Learn new words from every website

Lingua.ly was born under the promise of learning a new language as you read the web collecting words, defining them with pictures and example sentences, and then practicing when the time is right, at your own pace and wherever you are.

This vocabulary tool  is an innovative way to learn a language online, you can use it in your web-browser or in your mobile devices. As I mentioned before you have the possibility to  collect new vocabulary words from any web page you are reading, which is very useful when you are starting to read and do not remember the translation of a certain word. Once you install the extension in your browser then you just have to double click the word you do not know and the built in smart dictionary translate it for you and add it to your set of flashcards, which gives you the possibility  to practice your new vocabulary later.

If you login in the website you will also have the the opportunity to test yourself with our games and quizzes. In this way gamification elements produce an engagement with the user as it challenges him/her to practice and beat their previous records while having fun, and they can also share their progress using the social media buttons.

The website promotes the following slogan “The more you study with Lingua.ly, the more Lingua.ly studies you!” which is essential to differentiate this application from other similar alternatives such as Duolingo or Busuu, as it learns about your progress and suggests more advanced articles from the web to get the best results. You can also choose the topics you want to read about, so you can have a personalised language learning experience.

The flexibility of Lingua.ly is also present in the mobile apps (iOS and Android), in which you do not see a formal class structure but your progress to acquire new vocabulary at your own pace. The academics behind Lingua.ly based their product under the glossing approach, which idea is to provide the definitions, whether brief or long, of key vocabulary terms alongside the text in which they appear to get a more precise interpretation of it.

How does the web app works?

It is not only about vocabulary or reading

When using Lingua.ly you can also practice your pronunciation as you can listen to the definition of the words. Another idea to practice speaking and listening skills is to make a story telling based on your flashcards with the new words or read aloud the lines of the articles where you get them.

The drawbacks

One of the main drawback of this application is that you really need at least a basic level of the language you are trying to practice, as sometimes definitions can not be so clear or gives you another use of the word. You have to be careful discriminating the vocabulary words you get. Try not to use advanced words from the beginning, keep it simple and go step-by-step. There are no ways to collaborate with others in real time, you can just challenge them to play using their own devices and without interaction. The last but least important disadvantage is that an internet connection is necesary to fully operate Lingua.ly in your devices.

Finally if you really want to get the best from this app and learn you have to keep in mind that it requires a lot of self-discipline and practice to master a second language, so don’t give up!

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Popplet mind mapping made simple

Popplet is a not only an application that can be used to create mind maps, but it is also a very simple and easy to use graphic organising tool that can help you to create discussions about certain topics, storyboards, timelines and everything that you or your students could imagine. It is quite similar to Padlet, but there are some differences that are really useful to make your classes more collaborative and engaging.

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To start working with Popplet you need to create an account which requires you to write a username, password and email. The free web version allows you to create only 5 popplets but you have all the features available. There is also a paid iOS application available for iPhone and iPad, and a monthly or yearly subscription fee on the web.

Teachers might use popplet to provide stimulus materials to their students and challenge them to post their answers, comments and collaborate to create new popples, which can increase the richness of the activity developed in the classroom and also outside of it.   Feedback can be provided in each popple box via the comments function, so the students can improve and edit their work later. To make this possible you need to share your popplet publicly or add previously registered collaborators.

Once you are ready with your project you can use the presentation mode to make slideshows, embed it to your blog or website or share it via social networks. Another alternative is to export it as a picture (jpeg and png) or PDF.

The drawbacks.

Working online can be sometimes very difficult if you don’t have a reliable internet connection and there are also concerns related to privacy issues, copyright and lack of moderation. In relation to the privacy issues Popplet sets the default privacy settings as private, leaving the responsibility to the content creator to change this parameters later. The limitation to create only 5 popplets is another problem, but you use always recycle and reuse some that are already made public. The recommendation is to always check them and be sure that the content is the right for your activity and group of students. The rest of the issues can be solved by the teacher and his/her students in a previous class in which the rules can be established.

An idea to be used in the ELT classroom.

As I mentioned before you can use Popplet in many different ways. Now I am going to give you an idea to work with the Conditionals (adapted from Stanley, G. (2013). Language learning with technology: ideas for integrating technology in the language classroom. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press)

  • Title: “What would have happend if …”
  • Learning focus: Use of the conditionals.
  1. Create a story with your students using the title “The date that never was”.

Example: The date that never was

  • Roberto and Natalia met at a party and got really well.
  • They arranged to meet at the movies the next day.
  • Natalia took Roberto’s WhatsApp number.
  • Roberto didn’t get Natalia’s number.
  • Natalia lost Roberto’s number.
  • Roberto thought they had arranged to meet at 17:30.
  • Natalia remember they had arranged to meet at 19:30.
  • Roberto waited at the movies for an hour.
  • Natalia arrived 15 minutes after Roberto had left.
  • Roberto and Natalia were upset thinking that one of them had forgot about the date.
  • Put each sentence in a different popple.
  1. Ask your students to brainstorm the things that might have been different for each of the sentences.

Example: If they hadn’t gone to the party, they wouldn’t have arranged to meet later or If only Roberto had remembered the exact time of the date …

  1. In groups or pairs the students create a branching and hypothetical storyline using the question “What would have happend if …”
  2. Finally, the teacher checks and provides feedback using the comment option in the popples.

Popplet link: http://popplet.com/app/#/2368113

Kahoot a game-based classroom response system

Kahoot is a student response system. You may remember the old-fashioned clicker or you might be using Socrative. However Kahoot is different to those approaches because it incorporates gamification elements, which makes the learning process fun and engaging.

With this tool you can create game-like quizzes, discussions and surveys to challenge your students learning and make them participating in their learning process. Questions, along with answer choices, are projected in a classroom screen or projection, while students submit responses using a handset device (smartphone, tablet, notebook, etc)

As you can see in the picture bellow the devices display color and symbol choices only; the actual answer must be viewed on the classroom screen, the ones that submit their answer in less time get more points, which makes your to actively participate in the quiz.

One important thing is that playing a game Kahoot! doesn’t involve creating an account for each one of your students. Every Kahoot  that you create or use from the public ones available has a game PIN number, which the learners have to type in their devices and then write their names. Although, if you want to make your own quizzes you need to create a teacher’s account. To do it just follow my video tutorial:

A short summary of what you’ll need to use Kahoot with your students:

  • Internet access.
  • A screen monitor or projector.
  • Devices (smartphones, tablets, notebooks, etc), not necessarily one for each of your students, you can make them work with a partner or in a small group.
  • A Kahoot relevant to your class either made by you or others.

Is It good for Language Learning?

As any tool available to be used in the classroom you have to be very critical about it. I recommend you to first test it on your own or with your colleagues, discuss and reflect about it, improve your quizzes and then teach your students how to use it, so you can finally put it on practice.

You can make use of Kahoot to teach grammar, vocabulary or using a CLIL approach to discuss historical events, important celebrations, famous people around the world or the body parts. Everything depends on the topic you are working on in the class. The main idea behind this tool is to create useful and challenging content to support your teaching and promote your learners collaboration in the classroom. In this way they will be engaged and motivated to participate in the game, and you will be able to make them more critical about they learning.

At the end of every activity there is a scoreboard that displays the top 5 results, and your students will be able to provide feedback about the quiz with a star rating, yes/no questions and happy faces. Once they do that, you will be able to collect the entire information as an Excel file or directly on your Google Drive account.

The drawbacks.

There are three main problems that you need to consider when working with technology:

  • Disruption: Using internet or any device connected to it can be very useful but disrupting at the same time, controlling a large number of students and any other technological problem can transform your very nice game into a long nightmare.
  • Quality of the content: If you decide to use a public Kahoot try to check in the content available is useful but also challenging and of good quality. It will take some time to find a good one.
  • Quality of the feedback: Again, depending of the activity or topic you are working with you have to provide a good feedback, it’s not only having fun with the game, but learn, correct the mistakes and improve in the learning process.

Creating a Kahoot quiz.

Create a Kahoot quiz is very simple, just follow the following steps:

  1. Choose what you want to create. In this case a quiz.
  2. Write a name for your quiz, add questions and their answers.
  3. It’s done! Now you can mark some options before launching the game.

Playing

  1. Launch the game and wait for your students to join the Kahoot.
  2. They have to write the PIN number and their name.
  3. Start the game.
  4. While playing.
  5. Finishing and giving feedback.
  6. Collecting the results.

Link to my Kahoot example: https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/29277475-d733-45ad-a85b-a017a1efd0c8

You can see the previous steps in the following gallery:

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Tricider – Online voting and decision making

Tricider is a great tool to engage your students in the decision-making of the class, this online survey system allows you to write an idea and then let your students collaborate adding new ones, giving instant feedback, adding pros and cons and finally make them part of the class. For example I can make a simple question like: “How can we use WhatsApp to teach Speaking?”

Tricider

As you can see new ideas can appear, students can provide pros and cons and vote for the best ones. You can invite your students to participate in this survey using Twitter, Facebook, Email or just adding the URL of the survey, like the one in the example: http://www.tricider.com/brainstorming/35eX1nhsdK7

Advantages for this kind of application are tons, but for me the most important is that you can empower your students making them part of the process of their own learner which can motivate them to want to learn more and also provides you with the feedback necessary to pay attention to the needs of your class. Although on the bad side of the story this is only a web application and can only work using a computer and an internet connection, there is no smart phone application yet.

If you want to see Tricider in action here is a short video:

And if you want to experiment and learn even more please go to Russell’s Teacher Training Videos, which guides you step by step. You will see that it is very simple. Don’t be afraid! You can do it!

Link: Tricider