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12 things to watch out for when integrating ICT in MFL

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by gianfrancoconti1966, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. gianfrancoconti1966

    gianfrancoconti1966 Occasional commenter

  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    Good points.

    I work in a school where all pupils have an iPad, and my views on how to do this successfully are as follows:

    • Clear routines - iPads in bags at start of lesson, only come out if instructed to do so. Must be closed and on the desk when the teacher is speaking as messing around on a device is a) distracting and b) poor manners.
    • Not using iPads every lesson or for entire lessons - I think when the iPads were first brought in, many teachers tried to use them in almost every lessons, which didn't work well.
    • iPads as support for more traditional learning, not necessarily about doing fancy techy things. For example, I regularly put texts/worksheets up on Showbie to avoid photocopying or to give pupils a choice of task (eg: A grade and C grade text both uploaded for them to choose from).
    • Most apps are for homework not classwork (eg: Memrise/Linguascope/LanguagesOnline for vocab and grammar practice or making a PicCollage to present work nicely - these are not a great use of lesson time but are fine for consolidating and presenting work at home).
    • Varied diet - sometimes I check learning with a Kahoot (pupils love this) but it's not suitable for every lesson, it takes up a lot of time, and they can get quite rowdy! So I also do plenty of traditional vocab tests on scrap paper, and I use iPads as mini-whiteboards regularly.
    I wouldn't say I've got things completely right and I'm sure there are ways I could make iPad use more effective. But I would certainly say I've found a balance where iPad use is generally complementing and supporting other forms of learning, rather than replacing it.

    Avoiding too much focus on the written word is still the biggest challenge but I don't know that this is due to iPads. In my opinion it's more down to the difficulty of getting teenagers to stay on task when it involves speaking and pair/group work. I'm more likely to do reading/writing because the pupils are more likely to actually do it and therefore learn something!
    gianfrancoconti1966 likes this.
  3. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    I got into ICT-supported MFL at the very start, when BBC microcomputers first appeared in British schools, back in 1983. I recall my early enthusiasm about the potential educational benefits of digital technology across the curriculum and served as the deputy leader of a national ICT-supported MFL project in the early 1990s when I got to explore what early European online technologies (e.g. Bildschirmtext, Télétel) had to offer MFL teaching and learning.

    When I began working with MFL learners with special educational needs during the 1990s, I began to appreciate how great the contribution of ICT could be to this section of the student population. However, I quickly discovered how much more collaboration with SEN professionals mattered than the hardware alone mattered if ICT was to be successfully integrated into classroom practice. The more I continued, the more circumspect I became about the claims of modern technology to improve MFL skills. I particularly despaired when reading articles by some (not all) ICT-using MFL specialists in higher education because what they wrote made them sound more like over-excited computer scientists than teachers of foreign languages. The late great Professor Graham Davies was a very notable exception to, and debunker of, such "whizz-kids".

    I'm delighted reference was made in your blog to the importance of including less academically talented students among the subjects when experimenting with ICT in MFL. Such students often have strengths in areas outside academic excellence that will fit them for life if not for ivory towers and their inclusion ensures that experimental results have wider validity than they may otherwise have. I learned a valauble lesson myself when one of my students with learning difficulties got every answer correct for all the wrong reasons in a computer-delivered session on French direction-giving. You can find out how for yourself by reading the chapter I wrote for a volume dedicated to the use of digital technology in inclusive foreign language learning, published in 2013. It's accessible at
    Follow the link:
    Wilson, D. R. (2013) Meeting Special Educational Needs in Technology-Enhanced Language Teaching: Learning from the Past, Working for the Future. In Beltrán, E. V., Abbott, C. and Jones, J. (eds), Inclusive Language Education and Digital Technology, Bristol/Buffalo/Toronto: Multilingual Matters, pp. 45-64.
    under "Books and Artices" on the page.
    gianfrancoconti1966 likes this.

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