Technology Resources for Learning Spanish ~ By: Antonio Pedrett

posted Feb 28, 2014, 2:41 AM by Barry Johnson ISR   [ updated Feb 28, 2014, 2:42 AM ]
I’m excited to share a variety of technology resources with you to enhance your child’s Spanish language acquisition process. Our students learn not only the traditional skill areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking, but also cultural acquisition in the program and technology has a way of bringing more than one modality alive at the same time.

Duolingo
At www.duolingo.com you can create a free account and begin learning Spanish in a fun interactive way immediately. Duolingo was Apple’s 2013 App of the year, and you’ll see why with an intuitive interface, competitive and rewarding video game components, and social media interaction for motivation or “bragging rights” with family and friends. It’s easy to spend just ten to fifteen minutes a day to learn new words and practice old ones. One study found that learning with Duolingo for 26-49 hours would be tantamount to the first semester of a university course.

The aim of Duolingo is two-fold: to help people learn new languages and to translate the Web. Yes, that’s right, it’s an ambitious, egalitarian goal and all at absolutely no cost. There are listening, reading, writing and speaking activities that will engage most learners.

Yabala
The only aspect that Duolingo lacks is a cultural context, and at www.spanish.yabala.com there is an abundance of videos (over 1,000 equaling 54 hours) which delve into the human and cultural aspect of Spanish. There are videos on every possible topic including: travel, food, music, science, fashion and many more. The amazing thing about this site is the text to audio interface. After watching the initial video with Spanish and English subtitles (which can be hidden), students play a gap-fill game in which they need to find the missing word and type it in. The game is played in two rounds and can be repeated as the words change with each playing. Each video is rated for its difficulty and the speaker’s accent is categorized so that students may practice listening to the many different ways Spanish is spoken. There is a vocabulary study function as well. We sampled the song Fotografía by Juanes in the middle school class, and students were completely immersed in the 3 minute video for an entire lesson.

Te Toca

Lastly, Te Toca, or “Your Turn”, (http://dilealsol.es/1OCA/oca1024.swf) is an interactive website from Spain with 20 categories from colors and numbers to grammar and spelling that plays like a board game. You’ll need some understanding of Spanish to navigate the menu, but you can also explore the settings options for number of players (jugadores) and how to answer (eligiendo o escribiendo). Once in the game, students must correctly identify images by either clicking on the correct answer, or typing it in the box. There are some fun surprises inside the game board, so watch out!

These are just a few of the ways you and your child can study Spanish independently in fun and meaningful ways with a simple internet connection. While Duolingo and Te Toca are free, to get beyond the sample videos in Yabala takes a subscription. Luckily, we have just purchased a membership and in class we’ll begin to use grade level appropriate selections. ¡Buena suerte!

Source: Grego and Vesselinov, 2012

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