Digital Dialects Helps Students Learn Oromo, Kurdish and Czech (and Also English) For Free

Digital Dialects is a free way to learn over 60 languages for the cost of a breath of air. You can learn Malay, Cebuano, and Maltese, but I suspect most people will use it to learn the more plain vanilla languages like English and Spanish.

It has been around for about 5 years now, but it still retains its shelf life as the activities and games cover basic English Language vocabulary like food, clothing, numbers, colors without looking like a preschool site.

Most of the animations were produced by Craig Gibson, who developed the idea after working on a dissertation about online English language study. By now the project has grown and continues to expand, with many games featuring audio files to help the student with the proper pronunciation. Again, it is designed for true neophytes, so don’t expect much in terms of extensive language lessons.

I put my newcomer students on Digital Dialects and they spent the better part of the morning fully engaged. According to them, (5th and 6th grades) the games were “easy” to “so-so”.  We’re recommending it here because it is free, and visually engaging enough to supply the brain with enough dopamine to sustain learning. Plus, it helps out your students who just walked in the door from El Salvador, without having to deal with logins and passwords.

Here is an example of some of the artwork.

 

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Biblioteca Digital: An Indispensable (and Contemporary) Source of Spanish Language Texts

Mexico’s Biblioteca Digita ILCE has been around for many years now, and has undergone many face-lifts over the years. It’s newest form is no different and still constitutes one of the greatest portals for Spanish Language quality texts available on-line.

It not only features curated sites for the study of humanities, sciences, art and more, it also has an impressive children’s library containing dozens of high-quality, illustrated books that will students reconnect with their Mexican heritage as well as learn content area material ranging from science to social studies, ecology, and more.

The site is perfect for anyone who either teaches Spanish as a second language or in a primary language Spanish-bilingual classroom.

I’ve used their materials over the years throughout the elementary grades. The format tends to vary, as the materials comes from various authors and illustrators, but the content is available in most cases on mobile devices, making it an indispensable tool for the Spanish or bilingual classroom, or those wishing  to stay connected to Mexican and other Latin American cultures.

 

ILCE which stands for the Latin American Institute for Educational Communication, is the organ that put together this great project. They have been around for 55 years and these days they are dedicated to setting up all kinds of collaborations between countries and making Spanish language educational materials available online through various partnerships.

 

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media.

This past summer  New America Media  featured a zapaTECHISTA classroom in a news piece about the benefits and uses of mobile learning devices in a classroom filled with English Language Learners. Jacob Simas and Vivian Po, two reporters for NAM, the collaborative journalism project that brings together over 2000 ethnic media outlets, visited our Hayward, CA 6th grade classroom as the year was winding down to interview students, teachers, and the principal to get a handle on the issue of whether using mobile devices in classrooms can really begin to bridge the digital divide.

Here is a link to the full article:

Digital Kids: Experts’ Views on Digital Learning from PBS

Couldn’t embed this one for some reason, but here it is:

Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century

This is of a few videos that PBS has released recently about the so-called digital revolution that’s is taking over the classrooms the world over. Love of or hate it, educators are going to have to grapple with this at some point. For many of us in the teaching profession who still recoil at the idea of letting kids play with their phones in class, for example, this video should definitely make one reconsider.

But to be fair, the documentary is about more than cell phones in school. It delves into everything from tablets to stuff I didn’t know existed. Definitely an eye-opener and meant to be watched WITH your students, if they are old enough and/or have the language skills.

Also, keep this website in mind: http://video.pgs.org

I’ve spent hours watching shows from NOVA to Frontline, many of which carry teacher materials and links to additional resources.

Mobile Devices for Learning

We’ve been hearing lots of talk on the great potential of mobile devices, ie. cell phones, to bridge the digital divide. Proponents, such as Dr. Elliot Soloway, co-founder of GoKnow, suggest that given the portability, accessiblity, and ease of use of these devices, they are likely to be a major force in education.

In the future, zapaTECHISTA will be focusing on these developments with a critical eye. Yes, we see the great potential, and new ideas are being hatched everyday, but we must also be wary of the power and influence of telecommunications giants who might also be interested in these changes and who might view our students as “new markets”.

See this video from Verizon to see what we mean: click me to see!

It is estimated that about 70% of students now own their own mobile devices. It is unclear if this includes ipod touches, or just cell phones, but the reality is that that number is steadily growing. Already we are seeing a variety of efforts to tap into this phenomenon.  Many educators, tech mavens, and even Arne Duncan, the Education Secretary, have weighed-in on the subject.

Here are some issues to consider, besides the aforementioned:

1. With budget cuts bleeding districts dry, are we now outsourcing our technology to students who, presumably, already possess their own phones? And if so, what does it mean for other forms of technology?

2. Can hand-held and mobile technology be used to strengthen  the information loop between schools and the home?

3. And the obvious, what is TOO MUCH in terms of screen time? Are we willing to give up the old paper and pencil? It’s been suggested that future classrooms will spend less and less time teaching kids how to write, and most writing will take place on a keyboard. What are the implications?

4. Mobile phones are great, but they are still very limited compared to a lap-top. Even the zapaTECHISTA favorite, the ipad, still has some way to go before it can be considered a game changer.  With so much content requiring Flash, when will the mobile market move beyond this limitation? We still can’t see BrainPOP, or Livemocha in the classroom.

We’ll look at others in the future. In the meantime, here are some articles to review:

Mobile Devices in the Classroom by    

November 2009  in District Administration

Why Mobile is a Must by Mary McAffrey,  in T.H.E. Journal 2- 8-11