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Free online language learning aids – Part One: CALL-inspired sites April 23, 2010

Posted by teachandreflect in Uncategorized.
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N.B. This post and the next will be a work in progress. I’ll continue adding free language learning resources to this page as I encounter them. I’d love to hear from any readers if they know of any similar resources.  

Alrighty, so here’s a sample of the kinds of ideas floating about in the cost-free, online language learning world. As I said in my previous post, I’ve tried to focus on imaginative, engaging ideas and particularly those that use Web2.0 technologies (which I guess is a bit of a departure from traditional commercial Computer Assisted Language Learning [CALL] packages – more on this later).

I hope language teachers out there find this post useful. I’ll keep adding resources to it over time. Of course, if anyone out there knows of any new and exciting trends or ideas in the same genre, I’d love to hear from you!

Freelanguage.org
The name says it all, doesn’t it? These guys have almost my job for me. As they say in the introductory video below, they’ve already scoured the web for free, online language teaching resources that are practical and actually work. Most of the big European and Asian languages are covered, and they’ve even got some ideas for teachers of Bahasa Indonesia!

In the must-see introductory video, they cover resources like:
Flashcards
– Word of the day 
Lingro.com, a vocabulary helper that assists learners read authentic texts – this would be a great resource for senior high school/college and university students.
– free online foreign language books (from Project Gutenberg and wikibooks), and
– social language learning sites (from the ‘social’ tab of the freelanguage  site).

Under the final ‘social’ category, which certainly meets my Web2.0 requirement, highlighted sites include busuu.com, babbel.com, myhappyplanet.com and palabea.net. These offer interactive forums as well as free courses, vocabulary trainers and so on. But it’s time to check out the video and have a look for yourself, you won’t be dissapointed:

Despite its obvious value as a language teacher’s online toolbox, Freelanguage.org does not necessarily meet all of my requirements for engaging new, adolescent language learners in the way that I’m seeking. Most of the the resources assume some degree of enthusiasm on the part of the learners in the first instance, and offer opportunities to take that enthusiasm as far as they want without hurting their pockets. We could perhaps call it a free, online CALL compendium, and that’s awesome, but in part Two of this blog, I’ll be looking at more innovative approaches that perhaps offer a greater chance of getting students hooked in the first instance. See you then!

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