Sharing the goodies from the ACTFL conference in Philadelphia

Just came back from the ACTFL conference in Philly and I thought I would share some of the goodies I just got to learn about. So here there are my top 3! (I decided to limit myself to 3 since after that people stop reading :)!

#1 Lingt I got the opportunity to meet with one of the co-founders of this wonderful web based tool. Lingt basically allows you to create assignments online where you can record questions and where students can listen to your questions and respond within the lingt website. They make it very easy since there is no need for the students to sign up and you can check all your students’ assignments fairly easily. The downside so far was the fact that it was flash based but after talking to the co-founder, I was told that they were going to release an iPad app. The first 5 assignments are posted for free but after that there is an annual fee. However, I was told that they do volume pricing and it translates to the cost of a regular app. The bottom line: give it try, it’s definitely worth checking out!

#2 Duolingo. Who said that the Bay Area had the monopoly on tech innovation? I met with the founders of a very interesting tool called duolingo (they are from Pennsylvania) and I was fairly impressed by this tool. It basically offers lesson in different languages with a well designed skill map. And since a picture is worth a thousand words check out the video below! I personally like the fact that you can work on your pronunciation and it also has a social/game component where learners get to see which level they have achieved so far.  I had my sixth graders sign up and they LOVE it! I have even students going through the lessons way faster than I assigned/anticipated; they even started doing translations on their own and are very proud of their self-paced progress.
Last good news about Duolingo: it is cloud based and soon will be working across platform (Android and iOS).

#3 Fairy Tales! (This is more geared toward the French Teachers but can be adopted to other languages as well.)
Some of you might know Michel Ocelot. One of his most famous work is Kirikou. I personally like the fact that he provides a French alternative to the Disney Movies. During the conference, I was introduced to some of his other tales. I especially like Princes et Princesses for a couple of reasons:
a) it is short. It is comprised of a series of short tales of 10 minutes each. So you do not have to spend 2 to 3 class periods just watching the entire movie.
b) Second they offer some interesting grammar points (passé composé, imparfait, conditionnel présent).
c) they offer an interesting setting in fostering  story telling skills.
d) finally they are full of humor! Just watch the one below to give you a sense.

The fairy tales setting is perfect for some Project Based Learning and I thought I would offer some of the resources that I have used in the past to conduct such a project:

a) I created an online handout where the students get to create their own fairytales. This handout is designed to help them create a story line. Please feel free to copy it and tailor it to your needs.

b) Storybird is a really neat platform that lets you create and share children’s books using the artwork made available by artists. My students truly enjoyed using it.


About Frédéric Skrzypek

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