Multimedia language learning at the Language Show

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Joe Dale is an independent languages consultant from the UK who works with a range of organisations such as Network for Languages, ALL, The British Council, the BBC, Skype, Microsoft and The Guardian. He was host of the TES MFL forum for six years, former SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner, a regular conference speaker and recognised expert on technology and language learning.


Multimedia language learning at the Language Show

The idea behind my two sessions at this year’s Language Show is to demonstrate how easy it is to use some free iPad apps for promoting speaking and writing in the languages classroom. In the first session on Friday 13th, ‘Promoting creativity and higher order thinking through animation and filmmaking’, we will learn how easy it is to produce short one stop animations on the iPad to facilitate language learning and channel creativity using a variety of apps.


First, I will model an example with the iOS iMotion app by taking pictures of two inanimate objects and moving them slightly after each shot so that when they were played together, they give the illusion of movement. I will then export the footage to the camera roll of my iPad and import it from there into iMovie where I’ll add a voiceover. Next I will save the finished movie again and upload it to a Padlet wall I will have created for the activity. Padlet is a free, cross platform web tool which allows you to create an online notice board and publish multimedia notes and leave feedback at the bottom of each note. Posting to a real audience and showcasing students’ talents is a fun and meaningful way for making language learning more engaging and relevant. Other options for publishing animations in this way and enabling feedback include Seesaw, Google Classroom and Edmodo.


For Android users they could use the app PicPac which allows you to record a voiceover directly rather than having to do use a movie editing app so they could skip a step in the process then publish via the Padlet app. As I will have enabled commenting on Padlet, delegates with connected devices would be able to post feedback about my creations too.


Next, we will animate annotations designed to facilitate vocabulary learning and grammar using the cross-platform app PicsArt Animator. I wilI demonstrate how easy it is to draw an image in parts over a sequence of slides, adjust the speed at which it plays then upload the results as an animated gif to Padlet, so it repeats continuously. Perfect for conveying a simple idea through annotations in the classroom where in no time at all, you could have a Padlet full of looping examples of drawings, characters and animated messages. As before, I would ask delegates to give feedback though the comment box under the published note. 


Finally, I will showcase Apple’s new moviemaking app Clips which allows users to create subtitles in real time over video or stills which lip-sync automatically with their voice. A game changer for easy subtitling, promoting speaking and making sound spelling links. The killer feature is also available in 32 languages and so is a perfect fit for language learning. Next, I will show how to add animated titles, labels, emoticons, arrows, shapes, filters and a soundtrack in Clips and play some different Clips I have previously made by way of example. 


In the second session on Saturday 14th, ‘Now we’re talking! Using avatars and filters to promote oracy in the classroom’, we shall be looking at a number of different iOS apps for making voice recordings fun, bringing pictures to life through multimedia, turning inanimate objects into talking characters and creating customisable avatars to describe written work in any subject. Using avatars can also boost the confidence of learners and facilitate creativity.


We will begin with the popular Snapchat like cross platform app MSQRD which is great for promoting speaking skills in the languages classroom by adding live filters over your face and allowing you to play a role which can be particularly effective with shier students. As with the other apps I will demonstrate you can then save the resulting clip to the camera roll over the iPad and upload it to a platform such as Padlet for assessment purposes. The next app we will look at will be iFunFace which like MSQRD is also available on Android as well as iOS and is a cool way of bringing to life characters in a still image and make them speak in the target language. An Android only app for creating a speaking avatar worth checking out is Go Puppet Yourself!


For the following two examples my plan is to show how easy it is to combine apps together to produce a layered outcome also known as appsmashing.


To begin with, I will show how helpful the cross-platform app Pic Collage is for bringing together images, text, drawings, backgrounds and stickers in the same place for promoting writing skills and intercultural understanding in the languages classroom. When combined with the iOS app My Talking Avatar Free though which lets you record your voice for up to 5 minutes in the target language, you can produce a video promoting both speaking and writing where the Pic Collage is used as a background putting the language learning into context.


The second appsmash will involve the website and the app PhotoSpeak. Photosforclass is a directory of Creative Commons images which when downloaded display the image’s licensing attribution in the footer making them perfect for use in class as there is no risk of breaching copyright. I will download an image of a person’s face, save it to the camera roll and import it into PhotoSpeak where I will add a talking mouth and animated eyes then save the results back to the camera roll for sharing in the aforementioned ways.


To finish with, I’ll quickly show how to add speech bubbles to any image with the free app Balloon Stickies Plus and import all the videos made during the session into Apple’s clips to make a compilation of the results. I’m hoping I will be able to demonstrate how there are some fantastic free apps out there which when incorporated appropriately into lessons can enable learners to present both spoken and written information in different dynamic ways. It would be great to think that following my sessions language teachers will be itching to try some of these ideas. 


All the apps are straightforward to use and can simplify the process of multimedia language learning where learners are able to focus on their learning and not on the technology. By going through the process of creating short clips, delegates will have the opportunity to see how easy it is to make animations with little technical expertise and support all learners in producing professional looking multimedia outcomes to showcase their learning.


See you at the Show!

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