Sanako is a Finnish Educational Tech company helping schools and language teachers to improve language teaching efficiency and results.
We at Sanako are passionate about technology and we know that language teachers and teaching methods can benefit from the contribution of technology and Apps.
There are several possibilities to integrate technology within a classroom. There are more structured and advanced tools, such as complete blended language teaching and learning platforms like Sanako Connect. And then there are simpler tech tools that we already use in everyday life and which can also be easily used in language teaching as well - these are simple web and mobile apps.
Language teaching and learning Apps can be an easy and accessible tool to introduce new ways of working in your language classroom.
In this article we want to propose 6 apps that will allow you to make your class a little more virtual, thus exploiting the full power of technology. Working with technology and incorporating these apps into your classes can effectively make students more engaged and improve your language teaching methods and results. But first, let's take a look at the benefits that integrating technology into language teaching potentially brings for students, language teachers and for the whole school.
Using apps and technology in the learning process has the potential to improve student engagement
Let's face it: technology is already omnipresent in our modern society and in education. Students are very familiar with using different apps for communication and outside the classroom. Students often even prefer using mobile devices, laptops and different apps instead of conventional ways of reading, writing or doing homework for example.
Apps allow multimedia content and increase the options for multi-sensory stimulus
Using apps in language teaching and in the language classroom adds new ways to how the students' learning can be reinforced. The study material can be made and presented in a much richer format, which increases student engagement and allows them to use different study methods and senses. Not all students learn similarly: some might prefer audio or visual content instead of reading or writing. Technology tools and apps are a great way to bring more variety to the learning process and cater to different student's individual needs and preferences.
Apps can make language learning accessible for all and for students with disabilities
As apps are usually easy to use and one needs just an internet connection and laptop/smartphone to use them, apps can remove the barriers of the traditional physical classroom. Apps allow more options for remote and hybrid learning and they also enhance the learning possibilities inside the classroom. But this is not the only form of accessibility they bring: As apps and tech tools usually allow users to increase font sizes and make changes to the interface by changing background colors and so on, they are also increasing the accessibility for students with visual impairments or other disabilities which are harder to cater with traditional learning materials like textbooks.
Let's next take a look at some of the recommended apps in our list of top apps for language teachers!
Top 2 apps for coordinating projects and activities
Nowadays, a language teacher should also be versed in project management. The class is a real working group and, as we well know, teamwork can be very demanding! So, two useful apps that will help you manage and coordinate class activities are Google classroom and Slack.
Google classroom, part of G Suite for education, has become one of the most used instruments of distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though it is not designed specifically for language teachers, it is in any case a very practical app when it comes to integrating presence and distance learning.
One of its advantages is certainly to be a user-friendly, intuitive app, which everyone can learn to use quickly. Google classroom allows a high degree of planning and allows the teacher to work on a large number of classes.
Moreover, through Google Classroom it is possible to distribute tasks and grade assignments in a timely and accurate way. On the other hand, Slack is a messaging app designed to facilitate the communication and project management processes originally within companies.
This app is great for educators too and it allows for maintaining a channel of communication with your students without having to resort to emails. One of the functions of Slack is the possibility to organize the team communication through specific channels which can be accessible to the whole team or only to some members. Their motto is “choose a better way to work”. We guess that this is on every teacher’s wishlist!
Top 2 apps for giving grades and receiving feedback
From the teacher’s perspective, feedback is a fundamental educational instrument. In fact, giving feedback to a student about the development of a skill, or lack thereof, is very important to support the learner in his or her learning process.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that you can provide quick and prompt feedback to your classes.
In this regard, Edmodo could come in handy. This app is a learning management system and one of its core features is that it makes it possible to give students constructive feedback in a 1:1 manner.
Equally interesting is the assessment system provided by the app Socrative. This app offers a number of options through which it is possible to monitor in real-time the engagement of your classroom.
For instance, it is possible to create quizzes or to submit quick questions to your students. Through Socrative's reporting function, it is possible to prepare documents for the evaluation of students as well as creating an archive of these reports that can be easily downloaded or sent via email.
Top 2 apps for mixing up classroom activities
Monotony is the enemy of learning. So you might want to consider experimenting with new types of language learning exercises with your students. In this sense, iMovie and Kahoot! might be what you are looking for.
The first one is the popular videomaking program provided by Apple. This app can be used in all classes, regardless of the targeted demographics. Students can assemble audiovisual projects, while teachers can use the videos during explanations.
These exercises are especially useful in language lessons because they help students improve their communicative style and fluency.
Kahoot! is a game-based platform that stimulates students’ engagement through gamified tests and knowledge games. The features of Kahoot allow transforming the class into a real game session, also aiming to develop the social skills of pupils who can play in teams.
Kahoot! is a good product if you want to start experimenting with the gamification approach.
If you are not yet familiar with the apps that we listed here, we recommend you to take a look at them and think about how you could use them in your language classroom. These apps provide an easy and simple starting point when integrating tech tools into your language teaching.
However, if you want to make technology a structural part of your language teaching, remember that there are also more complete language teaching platforms that are designed specifically for language teachers, like Sanako Connect, that allows a much more systematic integration of learning and technology.
Sanako Connect for example is a blended language teaching platform that allows you to create engaging and effective language learning lessons in the same platform that you can also use to teach remotely and in the classroom. Connect also enables you to monitor in real-time what each student is doing at any given time and it can be used to teach synchronous lessons and let students learn at their own pace. Sanako Connect's big idea is basically incorporating the best parts of language learning Apps, classroom management software, virtual classroom software and traditional language labs into one complete solution.