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, foreign language lab, English, language lab, multimedia language lab, language media center and multimedia learning center to name but a few. Watch Sanako's classic "What is a language lab" video explaining more about language labs 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 and curriculum;
    • Students can record their own voice and play back the recordings, interact with each other and the teacher, and store their results and recordings;
    • Language 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 time 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 and equipment in a modern language lab:
    • Teacher has a computer with appropriate language lab software for conducting language exercises
    • Teacher and students wear language learning headsets that block outside sounds and disturbances
    • Students have a media player/recorder or student software for listening to audio and recording speech
    • Teacher and student positions are connected via LAN (local area network) if they are using a desktop language lab software, like Sanako Study 1200, and via Internet if they are using modern browser based online language labs like Sanako Connect.


    Picture from a school in Norway using Sanako Study 1200 - a software based language lab solution.

    Sanako Study 1200 language lab software at Nord-Østerdal Videregående Skole Norway


    What are the benefits of using 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 this 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 spontaneous speaking, real-life 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.

    You can read more about how effective language labs are in language teaching from our other blog post.


    What are cloud-based and online language lab solutions?

    The most advanced language lab solutions today are fully software-based and can be used anywhere and anytime via a normal web-browser. The advantage of these cloud-based online language labs is that they don't need any installation to the school's computers. They are very easy to set up and maintain, saving school's budget in the process.

    With cloud based, online language lab software, teachers can teach and students can learn any language, on any device. They can be used on virtually any device, on a tablet, a PC, a Mac or a Chromebook. Therefore an online language lab is the perfect solution for a language school or language department who has "bring your own device" policy.

    Watch the video below to see more details about our online language lab solution called Sanako Connect.



    Are you interested to learn more about language labs and language teaching technology?
    Contact us for a FREE consultative remote meeting where we can discuss your school's needs and give tailored advise if you could benefit from using language labs in your language teaching.


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