The MFL Twitterati
Over on Twitter there’s a flourishing Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) community.
It’s known as the #mfltwitterati and this friendly group of teachers is doing a great service to the whole foreign language learning industry (whether they know that or not!).
While highlighting how many hours of work they must devote to their work both inside and outside the classroom – too many hours! – they still find time somehow to share their experiences for the benefit of other teachers.
What dedication to the ideals of their art. Oh, and what mutual benefit!
Not only do the personal experiences of teachers assist other teachers in their development; in turn, resource providers like Speekee can learn – and respond accordingly.
Here is what I have learned from my recent communications with MFL teachers on Twitter: they know
They know what works in the classroom and they know what doesn’t work in the classroom.
Obvious, perhaps. But can you imagine how useful that inside knowledge is for the resource provider??
Well, let me give you an example.
Clare Seccombe’s survey
Primary Spanish teacher Clare Seccombe – @valleseco – recently asked MFL teachers on Twitter to complete a very simple two-question survey of hers.
Take a look at the top answers:
1- Name one thing that you, as a language teacher, can do better than computers or other technology
13 (out of 100 answers) Personalise learning/adapt to students’ needs
11 Translate accurately; Speak; Interact with students
8 Build relationships with students
5 Give feedback; Make students laugh; Listen
4 Praise students; Engage
3 Enthuse; Teach; Empathise
2 Encourage; Inspire; Smile
2- Name one thing that computers or other technology can do better than you in language teaching
9 (out of 100 answers) Create engaging games and resources
7 Give instant feedback; Vocabulary drilling
6 Be accessible 24/7; Authentic material
5 Repeat; Pictures / visuals / graphics; Authentic audio
4 Grammar drilling; Connect with culture; Authentic video; Record
3 Motivate students; Assess quickly and accurately
2 Engage students; Store data; One-to-one work with students; Access to up-to-date language; Different voices for listening; Promote independence; Allow students to work at their own pace; Find facts quickly
(watch the video of Clare’s recent keynote from last weekend’s ICT and Languages Conference 2014 here)
How is this information of use to Speekee?
It’s gold dust, Clare!
This survey, hot off the presses, provides us with valuable insight into the needs of teachers and pupils at a time when we are refining www.speekee.com to make it as perfect a fit as possible for the primary language classroom (flipped or unflipped, teachers!).
It has also got us thinking: Can we overcome at least some of the perceived limitations of the computer’s role?
Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure. It is a delight to be part of the #mfltwitterati community!
I extend heartfelt thanks to all who have crossed my path so far, and may I add how impressed I am with your energy, drive and innovation.
Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee, where kids learn to speak Spanish together
Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…