Sunday, March 10, 2013

Foreign Language Tools

It has been a while since I last posted, but it has been a hectic month and a half! I've decided to show some tools I've run across that pertain especially well to the foreign language classroom. Some are more suited for a modern language (emphasis on aural/oral communication), but all can be used even in classical languages (and other subjects, for that matter.) I will organize these by skills.



I have written about this website before. It allows linear contribution to a storyline. A great way to get students collaborating and writing.


This website allows you to give anonymous, filterable email addresses to your students. You and another teacher can then trade your students' anonymized addresses with each other and participate in a "pen pal" exchange. Finding another teacher is centered around "projects" that are put forth; teachers search for projects and then get in touch with other teachers.

One benefit is that a teacher can enable all emails to be seen by the teacher before the recipient sees it. This is a safe and secure way for students to communicate. The website has an international audience and you may be able to chat with kids from other countries! Followup ideas: Use an LMS (Like Edmodo or Schoology) and Skype to continue and further your discussions with your newfound friends.


This is a very easy to use activity/drill creator. You paste some text in the input field, hit the textivate button, and find yourself with a plethora of activities. These range from ordering text segments, to cloze exercises, to matching, and more. The range of possibilities is limitless - from simple vocabulary matching to exploratory story analysis.

Word Clouds

Tagul, Tagxedo, and Wordle all do roughly the same thing. One enters some text, and the websites produce a graphic that shows the most commonly used words in the text. These sites merge language and art in interesting ways, but the primary benefit I see is that they can be used to emphasize key vocabulary for a text. Perhaps you might compare two famous speeches in the target language and see what themes are common or dissimilar.


Student-Centered Audio

Google Voice and are two services that allow students to call in and leave a voice message. The teacher can then access these messages. It frees a teacher up from the synchronous limitations of a language lab and makes communication more authentic. These would probably be used primarily for student to teacher interaction, though there may be ways to create student to student interaction (although isn't that what class is for?)

Teacher-Centered Audio

I suppose I mean the idea of "flipping" or curation here. There are various tools that allow you to narrate over a video, powerpoint, or other medium. Some new ones I've found since my curation post include Brainshark, Jing, and Voicethread.

Classical-World Specific


This amazing project allows one to imagine and track real-world limitations to travel in the ancient world. It is highly customizable and answers an often overlooked question.

Operation Lapis

Kevin Ballestrini has put in a lot of thought and hours into this novel approach to Latin learning. I can't do him or his project justice in these too-short sentences, but the idea behind the approach is immersive, authentic, and fun. Follow him on Twitter @kballestrini

Tres Columnae

I've never met Justin Schwamm, but his blog is very passionate about teaching. He also has an immersive, authentic take on Latin learning. Follow him on Twitter @trescolumnae

Twitter PLN (Personal Learning Network)

Here is a public Twitter list of people involved with Latin or Classics.