Friday, March 20, 2015

World Language Week: Duolingo Initiative

Last year, I tried to encourage my students to dabble with the app Duolingo , especially during World Language Week.  Although not perfect, Duolingo does an excellent job of making language learning fun and addicting.  It also encourages students to practice each domain:  reading, writing, listening and speaking.  Unfortunately, not many of my students took it upon themselves to download the app on their own time and see the wide variety of language options the app had to offer.

This year, I figured they needed more of a formal introduction.  So, I got approval from my building technician to get Duolingo added on a class set of Ipads.  I also encouraged students to create an account over the weekend so they could log in immediately in class.  When they arrived, we logged in to their accounts (or created them) and I walked them through the basics of the program:  the languages they can choose from, the 3 hearts per skill, lingots, etc.  I also explained how to add friends on Duolingo and gave them my username so they could see how many points I was earning. I then encouraged them to tweet screenshots/share their level, points, and fun phrases they were learning with the hashtag #LMSwlw (Lakeview Middle School, World Language Week) and I turned them loose!  You should have HEARD my classroom as students were talking in German, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Italian, Irish, etc.  It was beautiful!  They had a lot of fun competing with each other or seeing what someone else was learning.  I listened to multiple conversations about comparing grammar to Spanish or translating a word to Spanish...L3 to L2...NOT L1!  I was so impressed by their focus for a whole class period and their repeated desire to try again once they failed.  Success!

I had multiple students speak with me at various other points throughout the week, commenting on how they "passed" me, or asking me if I had gotten to this lesson in French yet.  Students were much more willing to work on their own the rest of the week after having a class period to dedicate to getting familiar with it and getting "hooked."

So far, so good.  I am learning the importance of instilling a love of learning and an interest in all languages and cultures...not JUST Spanish.  I'd say it's working!

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