Language Lab

    What is a language lab?

    By Sanako Blog on April, 21 2020


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    Sanako Blog

    Sanako is a Finnish Educational Tech company helping schools and language teachers to improve language teaching efficiency and results.

    Modern language labs are known by many names, digital language lab, multimedia language lab, language media center and multimedia learning center to name but a few. View the video and read the text below to learn more.



    Modern language labs in general offer the following

    • Text, images, audio and video can easily be integrated to teaching and learning languages; language teachers can alter materials to fit their requirements
    • Learners can record their own voice and play back the recordings, interact with each other and the teacher, and store results
    • Teachers can intervene and control the learners’ computers via the teacher’s console, track of learners’ work, etc.
    • Self-access for independent learning which includes access to resources outside class

    The purpose of a language lab is to involve students to actively participate in language learning exercises and get more practice than otherwise possible in a traditional classroom environment. Main benefit of a language lab is that it increases the time each student can spent actively speaking and practicing during the class.


    Common components in a modern language lab:

    • Teacher has a computer with appropriate software for conducting language exercises
    • Teacher and students wear headsets that block outside sounds and disturbances
    • Students have a media player/recorder for listening to audio and recording speech
    • Teacher and student positions are connected via LAN (local area network) if they are using a desktop software, like Sanako Study 1200, and via Internet if they are using modern browser based language labs like Sanako Connect



    Sanako Study 1200 at Nord-Østerdal Videregående Skole Norway Cropped


    Why use a language lab in language teaching?

    In a normal foreign-language class without any language lab or language teaching software, all students combined speak only 23,5% of the class time.

    In a 45-minute long class 23,5% equals approximately 10 ½ minutes. As this number is the speaking time of all students put together, the time each student gets to practice speaking becomes less as class size is increased!

    How much speaking practice each student gets during a 45-minute foreign-language class, depending on class size:


    Traditional classroom without language lab (10 students): ~1 minute

    Traditional classroom without language lab (30 students): ~21 seconds


    Classroom with language lab (10 students): ~11 minutes*

    Classroom with language lab (30 students): ~11 minutes*


    With a language lab, all students in the class can speak simultaneously without distracting each other regardless of the class size. Without a language lab, in a class of more than 10 students, each student gets less than one minute of speaking practice.

    Speaking for only less than 1 minute per class cannot possible develop a student's language skills like communication and pronunciation as efficiently as we would like. Language labs are solving this problem in language education.

    *Note: actual speaking time per student can be considerably higher depending on what type of exercises teacher conducts. In many cases it can be even 40 minutes per 60 minute class.


    Are you interested to learn more about language labs?

    Continue to read our 2-part blog article about the efficiency of language labs in foreign language teaching here: How Effective Are Language Labs in Language Teaching