Category Archives: The OpenLanguage Teacher Series

Teacher Tips- How to Teach an Effective Online Class

The internet now makes it easy for teachers to reach students across the globe. There are many ways to become a private teacher over the internet, using services such as Skype or even specialized language learning social networks and  teaching platforms to reach your students.  So how do you run an effective online class over the internet?

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Have the Students Prepare Before Class

Teaching online shouldn’t be much different than teaching a normal class.  You should be well prepared with lesson content for the student to review ahead of time so that class time can be focused on speaking.  If you are using our OpenLanguage materials, the student may listen to the lesson, practice repeating the words and dialogue, complete exercises, and show up to class ready to practice what was learned.

Plenty of Speaking Practice

Online classes make this easy since the class will most likely be one-to-one or very small.  Class time should be treated as time that the student gets to speak and listen as much as possible and receive constructive feedback.  I think most of us language learners have probably sat through classes where you only get to say a couple of words throughout the entire class.  This just isn’t effective and the students don’t have the chance to develop the confidence necessary to go out and speak with people on their own.

Assign Tasks

Task based learning asks students to use language to achieve an outcome. Class time should be based around preparing this and equipping your students with the skills necessary to complete this task.  When using OpenLanguage, there is a ‘Task’ section in each lesson that will provide the opportunity for your students to use what they’ve learned and record an audio or video task.  These tasks can be sent to you as the teacher or to a community of language learners to provide feedback.  These tasks are a fun way for students to share what they’ve learned and help master the material.

Set Objectives

Most people view online classes as an informal practice session.  If you want your students to see results, there should be clear goals and objectives.  Maybe your student just wants to visit a foreign country and be able to get around, maybe they have business goals, or maybe they have to study for a specific test.  The goal of the teacher should be to figure out the student’s objective, create a plan and have targets to help the student along the way.

Teacher Tips- Upgrade Your Old Textbooks!

Let this be the year that you upgrade your old textbooks and turn to the digital Tablet Textbook for your language class. What’s holding you back? Here are some of the best things about making the switch to a digital tablet textbook.

The future of booksCreative Commons License

Convenience

Using a tablet textbook is just more convenient! In one device, you have access to a myriad of content. For example, our OpenLanguage courses are ALL available in one location. This is the equivalent of buying many different language textbooks across all different levels! And this doesn’t even include all of the other extra tools and features.

Social and Community Interaction

One of the best things about making the move to mobile language learning tools is interacting with a community of users and native speakers. Discuss your language with other learners and native speakers, share content and ideas, and do all of this without leaving your couch! Your old textbook doesn’t come close to offering the social tools necessary for learning a language.

Extra Tools and Resources

Record and playback video and audio, test your speech against a native speaker, flip through digital flashcards, complete exercises and track your data to see where you need to make improvements, and receive feedback from teachers and speakers across the world. These features are just the beginning of what can be done with OpenLanguage and other mobile learning apps. Your old textbook can be a fine resource, but to learn a language in the most efficient way possible, it just makes sense that you use all of the tools available to you.

Student Learning Management

Teachers now have the ability, with tools such as OpenLanguage, to look at the complete study history of a student, make assignements online, give feedback, and track progression. Using your old paper textbook, teachers may see scores of assignments from week to week, but there was no real way to track actual progress and determine weaknesses. Digital tools now allow you to track all aspects of a student’s learning and receive data and charts at the click of a button.

Have you made the switch to a digital tablet textbook, or are you stuck in the past with the old paper copies? Tell us how you made the switch to digital or why you’re still stuck in the past. We want to hear from you!

Teacher Tips- 3 Keys to a More Engaging Class

One of the hardest things for teachers is struggling to grab the attention of your students and keep them interested.  Having disinterested students in a larger classroom also usually leads to behavior problems that can distract the entire class, so having an engaging class is incredibly important. Fortunately, teaching an interesting language class doesn’t have to be difficult.  Follow these 3 keys below and you’ll have your students eager to learn a new language.

Real World Application

Students want to learn things relevant to their daily life.  If you are teaching material that doesn’t relate to your students, they aren’t going to be interested!  Choose content for your students that matches their interests.  Unfortunately, most textbooks are incredibly boring, so consider supplementing with vocabulary or lessons that your students are interested in.  Music, movies, and other forms of entertaining media are great ways to get your students interested in the content.

The Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas

Culture

Learning the culture is one of the most fun ways to learn a language and also one of the best ways to get your students interested in the language.  Think about the food, music, dance, sports, and celebrations of the countries that speak the language you are teaching.  Creating lessons based around these ideas are fun for the students and can help them grow a stronger attachment to the language.

 No More Lectures!

Lectures are the absolute worst way to teach a foreign language class.  Here in China, it isn’t uncommon to see Chinese English teachers deliver lectures in Chinese to explain words, phrases, and grammar of the English language.  This may lead to students having an understanding of the structure of the language, but the student will almost certainly be left struggling to speak with native English speakers. At OpenLanguage, our belief is that the most effective way to learn a language is by listening to and studying your lesson at home and then practicing what you’ve learned with a teacher.

Teaching with OpenLanguage makes it easy to teach an engaging class by adhering to these 3 keys with up to date and relevant content, weekly culture shows, and practice exercises to get your students speaking throughout the class.  Check out our Teacher page here for more information.

Teacher Tips- How to Provide Constructive Feedback for your Students

Depending on your teaching situation and the number of students you have, sometimes it can be tough to know how to provide feedback for all of your students. How do you know when to correct your student and when to let things go? Correcting too much in the moment may cause your students to stop speaking, and not enough correction will lead your student down a path of bad speaking habits.

Keep a Notebook

A general rule is to keep a notebook to jot down mistakes that are made often so that you can give your students a chance to learn without singling out their mistakes, constantly interrupting with corrections, and scaring them from speaking out again. Most students will need plenty of encouragement to speak out in class and less interruptions from the teacher. Let your students speak out, jot down the mistakes that are being made in your notebook, and make those teaching points targeted to the class so that your student can learn without feeling criticized.

Record your Students

Recording your students or asking them to record themselves also provides a great way for you to hear your students individually and provide personal feedback to each one. OpenLanguage has made this simple with the ‘Task’ feature. The Task asks students to answer questions or speak about a topic covered in the lesson, and they can record themselves and upload the Task on their mobile device so that the teacher can send feedback. The Task gives the opportunity for the student to speak and receive feedback for every lesson so that the teacher and student together may uncover weaknesses and make improvements in areas that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Try out the Task feature with your students and start giving more personalized feedback.

doatask!

Teacher Tips- How to Get your Students to Speak More in Class

Getting students to speak in class is one of the biggest challenges for a teacher, and its also the most essential aspect of the student’s learning process. Through my own experience in language learning, speaking always created the most anxiety, as I was being graded on my responses, or I was given open ended questions that I believed were too difficult for me to answer. More often than not, class time was spent listening to the teacher, and most of the class was spoken in my native language.  As you can imagine, results are disastrous in this type of learning enviornment.  As a teacher, there are a couple of ways that you can make students feel more comfortable when speaking in class, and in turn, see real progress from your students.

Create the Right Environment

The first thing that you can do is create a class environment that revolves around having students speak in class. There should be plenty of encouragement, and an understanding that language learning is full of making mistakes. In a classroom full of speaking, and not just the occasional question that puts students on the spot, there will be less fear and anxiety placed on the student.

Build Confidence

After creating a class that welcomes and encourages speaking, students should also be given lots of guidance when asked to speak so that they do not become confused and discouraged. Before asking your students a question, they should have received all of the proper tools to be able to give an answer.  No student likes to be placed on the spot with a question that they aren’t prepared to answer.  It helps to warm up the students with easy questions before moving to more difficult ones.

Using OpenLanguage to Speak More in Class

OpenLanguage provides some useful tools that can help teachers get students speaking more in class. The ‘Practice’ tab in the OpenLanguage lesson lays out 35-40 minutes of focused speaking practice that will help students master each lesson by reviewing the target vocabulary and grammar points. The lessons are simple to follow and easy to implement into any type of classroom.

practice screenshot

The ‘Practice’ lesson plans give students the opportunity to put to use all of the things that they’ve learned from the lesson, and getting your students to speak out more and interact in the target language will create a more enjoyable class experience.  Most importantly, your students will develop more confidence as they are given more opportunities to speak in class.

Teacher Tips- The Tablet Textbook- Teaching with OpenLanguage

The tablet textbook, or digital textbook, is being embraced by many teachers and schools at the forefront of technology. The old days of students lugging around all of their textbooks are quickly being replaced as tablets and mobile devices are becoming cheaper and more accessible for all students. These changes will eventually make it easier for both teachers and students, but some teachers may find it difficult to cross over into unfamiliar territory and move away from using the standard textbook in the classroom.

tablet on books

Last week we wrote about the general use of OpenLanguage in the classroom and the various ways that teachers are using the product. This week I’d like to talk about how to use the OpenLanguage tablet textbook to teach your class.

OpenLanguage has several key features that give teachers the ability to push their language class to the next level. Each lesson contains a dialogue spoken by native speakers, key vocabulary, expansion vocabulary, grammar, exercises, practice, and a task. Some lessons will also have a culture tab to give advice that allows you to more easily interact with the native speakers of your target language.

The practice tab is the most useful for teachers to get as much practice as possible during their class. Each practice lesson provides material for about 35 minutes of speaking practice with students. The practice makes use of the lesson vocabulary and grammar, and will also note other practical language necessary for fluent communication. It gives simple, straightforward, and practical speaking exercises for teachers to practice with their students.

lesson screenshot

In addition to the practice you can do in class, you may also choose to go over the exercises that are provided. The exercise tab tests the students’ comprehension of the material with matching, multiple choice, dictation, and sentence reordering exercises. If the students have difficulty with grammar, there is a grammar tab that allows you to teach and review key grammar points from the lesson.

As you can see, teaching with OpenLanguage makes it easy for the teacher by providing a template to structure your class around, and it also provides flexibility to go even deeper into the material with expansion vocabulary, cultural topics, and real native language expressions that aren’t covered in most standard textbooks.

If you’re a teacher and interested in trying OpenLanguage in your classroom, please come sign up for your free account at www.openlanguage.com/teachers and try it out!

Teacher Tips- How to Use OpenLanguage in Your Classroom

Unfortunately, most language teachers are still teaching in the old, traditional textbook method, spending valuable class time lecturing to students and having them repeat the target language and dialogue.  OpenLanguage gives teachers an arsenal of new tools that  will make teaching easier and more enjoyable.   Here are some of the ways that teachers are incorporating OpenLanguage into their classrooms.

tradclass

The Flipped Classroom: The flipped classroom is a new approach to teaching and learning where the student studies the material at home and then comes to class to practice with a teacher.  With OpenLanguage, the student is able to listen to native speakers read the target dialogue and vocabulary, and then the student is able to practice using the language with the teacher.  Within the lesson contents are classroom activities for the student to practice with the teacher, as well as exercises for the students to complete.

The Traditional Classroom: While we think the best method of teaching involves flipping the class to allow the student as much speaking practice as possible in class, some teachers may prefer to first try a more traditional approach with OpenLanguage.    Under this method, you may go over the dialogue, vocabulary, and grammar with your student, and assign practice exercises for homework.

Supplementary Material: While there are more than enough lessons within OpenLanguage for complete courses, some teachers have used it as a supplement to fill in the gaps of their current curriculum.  Using OpenLanguage as a supplement allows you to search for topics by keywords or ability level to find lessons relevant to your students.

Class Management: Along with all of the great in-class practice material, there are also built-in class management tools that allow you to assign courses to your students and track their progress. Teachers have the ability to create and assign courses from our large lesson database,  assign and check online practice assignments, monitor student usage, give tests, and receive feedback through surveys.  These tools make it easy for teachers to track student progress, create class lesson plans, and receive feedback about the course.

Feel free to sign up for a complimentary teacher account at www.openlanguage.com/teachers and explore the OpenLanguage platform to learn how to transform your classroom.  Also, check out this video below for more information on using OpenLanguage with your students!