The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 19 FEATURES his voice recording of a new wordlist, and the teacher has then added the standard pronunciation, enabling the student to identify differences and improve pronunciation: Although Kahoot, Socrative and Google forums are often used for quizzes, the Plickers app has its own special value for quick quizzes and revision tests. Unlike in Kahoot, the teacher can put different questions in different folders, so it is easier to organise materials. More importantly, perhaps, students do not need any equipment; the teacher installs the app on a smartphone or iPad and prints QR cards for every student, which can be used to answer questions. The teacher then scans those cards through the app to get the results, making it simple to give instant feedback, and enabling them to use the results to plan the next lesson. One potential shortcoming is that it is not always easy to see which students have answered correctly. A simple solution is for the teacher to keep a list of the students' names on screen, as the app will indicate a right or wrong answer with a tick or cross next to each name. Working with adult learners Adult learners can take a variety of non-credit language courses at the Confucius Institute. Compared to students on a credit course (e.g. a BA in Mandarin Chinese), CI students have very limited time to learn the language both in and out of the classroom (only 2-4 hours a week in class). Furthermore, as courses often run in the evening, students are more likely to be tired after a long day's work. The lack of summative assessment makes the teaching of non-credit courses more challenging in terms of motivating students. How to stimulate the interest of learners and fully engage them in order to improve the efficiency of the teaching are the crucial factors to consider when selecting the appropriate learning tools. Lucy (Luxi) Yang, the Senior Language Tutor in the CI, has identified Quizlet and Kahoot as effective apps to help learners memorise Chinese vocabulary, enabling teachers to carry out formative assessment in a fun way. Both are free and simple to use, offering some flexibility. They foster social learning and deepen pedagogical impact. Teachers can create their own learning resources in minutes – the content and format are entirely up to the individual teacher, who can also add videos and images to amplify engagement. The learning resources created by users all around the world can be shared by searching for topics and keywords, which saves teachers a lot of time. Quizlet is a mobile and web-based study application, widely used in schools and colleges. As a memorisation tool, it lets registered users create sets of terms and definitions customised for their own needs. These sets of terms can then be studied under several study modes, which are very popular and widely used in the CI. The 'Flashcard' mode is similar to paper flashcards. Teachers use it to test the vocabulary learnt in the last lesson, while students can use it to memorise vocabulary at any time. What makes it stand out among similar tools is that the vocabulary can easily be printed as paper flashcards, which reduces the teacher's workload. In the 'Learn' study mode, users are shown a word and challenged to type the pronunciation or meaning that goes with it. In the 'Games: Match' mode, they are presented with a grid of vocabulary and asked to drag terms on top of their pronunciation or meaning to remove them from the grid in the fastest time possible. The completion time for each user in a group is recorded and automatically ranked, which makes it competitive and fun. Kahoot is a game-based learning platform with multiple-choice quizzes. It is suitable for social learning and best used in a group setting where the classroom is organised around an interactive whiteboard, projector or computer monitor. The design of the games is attractive, with a colourful screen and lively background music, which engages students. They answer questions on their own devices, while games are displayed on a shared screen. It creates a 'campfire moment', as the class celebrates together once everyone has answered and the ranking for the whole class is known. A quiz can act as an online form of 'hinge- point question', a diagnostic question that enables the teacher to determine whether students are ready to move on, and in which direction. Halfway through a lesson, every student responds to a hinge-point question so the teacher can check on their understanding before continuing and make their teaching more responsive to students' needs in real time, which is why this method is considered one of the outstanding practices of language teaching in the UK. Using Kahoot, the teacher can collect and interpret the responses from all students in 30 seconds. Since the tools were introduced to the CI teaching team two years ago, we have received positive feedback from both students and teachers. The online learning tools are widely used in all adult lessons, and have greatly improved teaching efficiency. In the school learning environment, pupils are more engaged with language learning following the incorporation of online quizzes and feedback. More research and resources must now be put into the development of new apps and online learning tools, both for general language learning and specifically for Mandarin Chinese.

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