Sanako is a Finnish Educational Tech company helping schools and language teachers to improve language teaching efficiency and results.
Whether students are learning a language as part of formal or informal education programmes, language teachers typically seek to develop students’ fluency in four core areas. These are the creation and understanding of written content (i.e writing and reading) and the skills of oral expression and understanding (i.e speaking and listening).
Building these core skills is at the heart of all language teaching. So, how do Sanako’s cloud-based language teaching solutions support teachers to build and develop these skills when students are increasingly learning online and at a distance from their educational institution? This blog post examines in detail how three key solutions (Sanako Connect, Pronounce and Reactored) maximise students’ opportunities to practice and develop their skills in these vital areas.
Speaking skills (Oral expression)
For the majority of language learners, being able to communicate with a native speaker is one of the major motivators for embarking on their language learning journey. Sanako’s solutions have therefore been specifically developed to support language learners to build their skills in this area. In particular Sanako solutions enable students to easily listen back to their recordings which, evidence suggests, plays a key role in helping students improve their speaking skills.
At the heart of Sanako Connect, for example, educators can easily divide students into pairs or small groups for conversation practice. This takes place over the internet, regardless of the individual student’s location. Each group of students can talk simultaneously without distracting each other. Teachers can listen in or talk with different groups to assist as required. All conversations can be easily downloaded and reviewed for comment.
Sanako’s Pronounce product takes this one stage further. Students begin by listening to authentic speech content provided in advance by the educator. They then repeat that content and the software records their own voice for comparison against the original. Pronounce Live then gives the student a score based on the accuracy of their pronunciation and provides immediate feedback to the learner.
Listening skills (Oral understanding)
Of course, communication is a two-way street! So it’s obviously essential that students quickly learn to understand their chosen language when they are being spoken to.
A large part of developing this skill clearly occurs during the conversation practice outlined above. But both Sanako Connect and Reactored also allow teachers to create and share a wide range of audio stimulus materials and to develop bespoke tasks that test students’ listening skills and comprehension.
Writing skills (Written expression)
Writing a language correctly is, for many learners, the most difficult skill to master. After all, many languages incorporate additional accents, characters and letters which learners will never have encountered before. As above, cloud-based language solutions enable students to undertake written tasks with ease and, perhaps most importantly, help reduce the time educators need to assess students’ performance.
A key feature of Reactored is that software allows learners to tailor their study experience from lesson to lesson. Learners are able to adjust the format of the exercises that they work through to maximise opportunities to practice their writing skills. Reactored also includes a unique spell checking functionality to show students where they are making mistakes. When they start typing, the text is in green, but switches to red as soon as a mistake is made.
In Sanako Connect, educators are able to set students tasks that test their writing skills. Connect’s flexibility enables teachers to upload stimulus material to which students can respond with detailed written answers of any length. It also supports teachers to create quizzes to test students’ spelling and grasp of key grammatical concepts.
Reading skills (Written understanding)
Whether it’s reading menus, road signs, weather reports or transport timetables, understanding written material is a key skill for all language learners. It’s important therefore that educators are easily able to share a wide variety of these source materials with their students.
Sanako Connect’s flexibility enables teachers to upload such digital content and to easily share it with their students. Educators are also able to create tasks for students within Connect, based on that material, to test their reading skills and understanding.
All of the pre-prepared digital materials and courses available for teachers and students to use in Reactored include reading tasks as standard. As with Connect, teachers can also create their own tasks and activities for students to read and respond to.
Part of the reason why cloud-based solutions are so effective building such core skills is that they often help to decrease learners’ anxiety and increase their willingness to communicate. For some learners, communicating with or via technology can be less stressful than doing it face-to-face in a classroom environment. Learners also have more time to process and review associated stimulus materials and to plan and prepare their response.
Cloud-based technologies also support students to develop these core skills by providing prompt feedback on their work. For example, with Pronounce, students receive an immediate score judging the accuracy of their language, whilst Reactored immediately highlight mistakes in written tasks. As well as reducing the time taken to deliver feedback to students, these functionalities, most importantly, also deliver significant time savings for language teachers.
If you’d like to find out more about how Sanako’s suite of language teaching software can help language teachers to build learners’ core skills, please contact us now to arrange your free demo!