Speaking: a simple solution to online ‘cheating’:

When an average student regularly gets 100% on tests and quizzes or you have Spanish 1 students using the subjunctive, it becomes obvious that there is ‘cheating’ going on. The two most obvious examples of ‘cheating’ are using google translate or getting help from a parent or friend. The solution to this is to insist on a speaking element in every assignment, and base your assessment primarily on that. Scores for quizzes, comprehensions, and freeform writing are automatically calculated by your language laboratory, so you can focus your attention on the most important thing …. your students’ ability to speak in the target language. If they have someone to help them at home or abroad, take the opportunity to assign them dialogues and conversations on subjects that interest them.

Time for Reassessment?

Language students in their thousands will no doubt be delighted to hear that their test has been cancelled this year, courtesy of Covid-19. The level of a student's foreign language acumen has long been assessed by means of a daunting summative speaking test. The reason for their glee is obvious: the tests are a mild form of torture, carefully designed to weaken the resolve of any student foolhardy enough to contemplate enrolling on a foreign language course. The ordeal tends to be a series of rather wooden exercises, such as a monologue learnt verbatim by the student and a phony role-play exercise. Typically, after a sleepless night of worry, the quivering candidate is required to attend an alienating examination room strewn with the serpentine paraphernalia of a recording studio. The torture is not confined to the student. The presiding teacher, examiner or proctor is under considerable pressure. He must satisfy the requirements of the awarding body. If he fails, there will be dire consequences, not excluding deep shame.

Seamless Switch between Class and Homeworking

There has been much talk on the social networks about the educational problems caused by the Coronavirus. A major one has been the sudden switch from school to home working. Schoolshape teachers, students and parents have been able to continue performing, monitoring, and assessing their language learning tasks seamlessly and with very little fuss. This has put very little strain on the Support department!

Schoolshape Support and Feedback

"Thank you for maintaining Schoolshape during this whole situation. My students were very familiar with Schoolshape before we left the classroom, so the transition to home learning has been less stressful for all of us... They have been able to do speaking, reading, writing and listening tasks so I know they are practicing all their skills. I'm a BIG Schoolshape fan for many reasons, and your support during Distance Learning is just another bonus!".......... We are always most grateful for the feedback from teachers. It provides invaluable information on how to make the language laboratory as user-friendly as possible, enabling us to 'tweak' the software to the mutual benefit of our language teachers and learners worldwide. But that's not all. Users' words of appreciation are immensely motivational for the Schoolshape team, particularly in these difficult times. This apt and timely example of this came yesterday from Lynda Whiston, Spanish teacher at Garden Grove High School, California.

Every worksheet should have a speaking element!!

I'm as guilty as anyone for forgetting to do this. All those years of giving listening, reading and writing exercises for homework! But now there is no reason why every worksheet should not have a speaking exercise. When completing a Schoolshape worksheet just click 'Speaking' under 'Activities' and tell them to say some words based on the listening, reading or writing exercises on your worksheet. The icing on the cake is of course to require them to record a conversation with someone else - another 'Teacher'. (Examples of teachers could be 1: students in your school’s twinned classes 2: a student in your school (better at French than you) 3: a French speaking family member)

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