There’s no doubt that learning a language is extremely beneficial. Whether the students in question are adult professionals, graduate students, college students or primary school pupils, the benefits are very well documented. It’s fair to say that there are many different ways to teach a new language. Despite this, almost all schools of thought emphasise the vast importance of speaking and listening practice. Immersion language training is a very valuable way for students to do this.
There is another very key way for language learners to engage in important speaking and listening practice. In the last hundred years, almost all language students have had access to language labs.
The language laboratory plays a very big role in language learning. This is true whether students are engaging in traditional classroom learning or in online language courses.
The technology behind language labs may have changed a great deal in the century since their first incantation, but the learning opportunities are more valuable than ever.
How do traditional language labs work?
Traditional language labs are classrooms that are set up with the dedicated purpose of students using audio technology to engage in independent study. Originally, each student desk would be equipped with a tape player, headphones and microphone recording facility. Typically, the tape recorders would all be linked to a master workstation where the language teacher would be based. The teacher would be able to listen in to what each student was doing in order to check their progress.
Language students would use these audio tools to listen to recordings of native language students, complete listening comprehension exercises, and even record their own responses in order to practice their own pronunciation and listen back to it.
What should you expect from online language lab software?
The growth of the digital learning platform has successfully revolutionised language labs. Online language lab software is now available that can give students all the benefits of traditional language labs as well as a wide range of additional online learning tools.
Online language lab software is available in a range of scenarios. It can be used by students who are completing online language courses via a digital learning platform, but is also available to students who are learning in a more traditional educational setting.
The great thing about online language lab software is that it has so much to offer. Students can engage in solo language practice whenever they want, wherever they are. They no longer need to be on site at a dedicated language laboratory, rather they can access online learning tools on a cloud based digital learning platform.
Teachers can choose to ‘listen in’ just like in more traditional language labs, but they don’t need to be sat in the room at the exact moment in order to do so. Instead, they can use a whole range of impressive metrics and tracking tools to understand where their students are educationally and what they need to be focusing on.
It’s also key to point out that as language labs have been digitised, they have become a great deal more intelligent. Artificial intelligence tools can now give students instant feedback on their listening and speaking practice, including pointers on improving pronunciation.
Are traditional language labs or online learning tools more effective?
Though there is still a great deal of benefit in setting up a physical language laboratory within a language school or department, the reality is that the lines between traditional language labs and online learning tools are becoming increasingly blurred.
This is a real benefit, as it means that language students can benefit from online language lab software whether they are doing online language courses at home or enrolled in a face-to-face setting.
There is no doubt that the growth of the digital learning platform has made the language lab more effective as a learning tool. Online learning tools are much faster and more intuitive to use, which means that students can get more from their time in the language lab.
Students can also get instant feedback on a digital learning platform, whether this is from their teacher, the digital learning platform itself, or a combination of the two.
How can you incorporate online language lab software and other online learning tools into a face-to-face classroom environment?
As you read at the beginning of this piece, there are many ways to learn a language. As the concept of the digital learning platform grows and adapts, there is becoming much less of a visible boundary between face-to-face classroom learning and online language courses.
Why not arrange a free consultation to talk about how Dexway online language courses and tools could enable your students to access high quality digital learning tools both in and out of the classroom?
You may also like: