Most experts agree, to promote language learning, students should use the target language in meaningful ways in the classroom. On that note, discussion and collaboration are beneficial for language acquisition. Students can learn a lot from conversing with others and cooperating to problem solve and create. Not to mention, social interaction is a powerful motivator. It is especially important for instructors in one-on-one classroom settings to find ways to incorporate other voices. Technology tools can help by promoting discussion and collaboration beyond the classroom walls. Moreover, many technology tools are gateways to informal, relaxed learning environments that alleviate the anxiety that practicing a new language can trigger. For instance, technology tools can provide a degree of anonymity so that students can write and speak freely. Here are some easy ways to utilize collaborative technology tools:
- Have your student create a blog or vlog. A blog is an online journal, and a vlog is a video blog. Give a student a topic on which to write or talk about in the target language. People from around the world will comment on the student’s ideas, and a rich back and forth will ensue. Tumblr and WordPress offer free blog accounts, and Youtube is a great place to start a video diary.
- Have your student contribute to a wiki. You have heard of Wikipedia, right? A wiki is a website that allows collaborative editing. In other words, people work together to write about a topic. Imagine how much students will learn about vocabulary, grammar, and culture as they work with others to write in the target language about global people, places, events, etc.
- Join a Facebook group with your student. Facebook doesn’t have to be a distraction. You and your student can join a language group and post in the target language. Want to challenge your student even more? Ask him or her to change the overall language of his or her Facebook account from his or her native language to the target one!
- Join Twitter. Read, discuss, and respond to tweets from actors, politicians, artists, musicians, etc. from countries that speak the target language. Again, remember to have your student change his or her account so that he or she reads in the target language!
Using technology to promote conversation and collaboration is fun, easy, and important for language learning, so pick a tool and start talking!