Whether students are learning a language as part of formal or informal education programmes, language teachers typically seek to develop students’ fluency in four core areas. These are the creation and understanding of written content (i.e writing and reading) and the skills of oral expression and communication skills (i.e speaking and listening).
Building these core skills is at the heart of all language teaching. So, how do Sanako’s cloud-based language teaching solution, Sanako Connect, support language teachers to build and develop these skills when students are increasingly learning online and at a distance from their educational institution? This blog post examines in detail how Sanako Connect maximises students’ opportunities to practice and develop their skills in these vital areas.
Speaking skills (Oral expression)
For the majority of language learners, being able to communicate with a native speaker is one of the major motivators for embarking on their language learning journey. Sanako’s solutions have therefore been specifically developed to support language learners to build their skills in this area. In particular Sanako solutions enable students to easily listen back to their recordings which, evidence suggests, plays a key role in helping students improve their speaking skills.
At the heart of Sanako Connect, for example, educators can easily divide students into pairs or small groups for conversation practice. This takes place over the internet, regardless of the individual student’s location. Each group of students can talk simultaneously without distracting each other. Teachers can listen in or talk with different groups to assist as required. All conversations can be easily downloaded and reviewed for comment.
This screenshot from Sanako Connect shows the main class view when the teacher has started a one-to-one audio call with one of the students. Audio & video calls are available between the teacher and individual students and also between groups. The teacher can also speak directly to the whole class.
Sanako Connect’s Pronunciation activity takes this one stage further. Students begin by listening to authentic speech content provided in advance by the educator. They then repeat that content and the software records their own voice for comparison against the original. The system then gives the student a score based on the accuracy of their pronunciation and provides immediate feedback to the learner. These automatically graded pronunciation tasks are available in the most common languages.
This screenshot from Sanako Connect shows an example pronunciation task in English. The student first listens to the sample voice and then records his/her own voice. The student gets immediate feedback and can listen back to their own recording. They can re-try as many times as they wish and their final recording will also be submitted back to the teacher if they want to review it manually.
Listening skills (Oral understanding)
Of course, communication is a two-way street! So it’s obviously essential that students quickly learn to understand their chosen language when they are being spoken to.
A large part of developing this skill clearly occurs during the conversation practice outlined above. But Sanako Connect also allows teachers to create and share a wide range of audio stimulus materials and to develop bespoke tasks that test students’ listening skills and comprehension.
This screenshot demonstrates a live listening comprehension task: The teacher can first give live instructions to the whole class and then launch the activity for them. All the students need to do then is to listen the audio clip and answer the related questions. All students’ answers and audio recordings are then automatically collected back for review.
Writing skills (Written expression)
Writing a language correctly is, for many learners, the most difficult skill to master. After all, many languages incorporate additional accents, characters and letters which learners will never have encountered before. As above, cloud-based language solutions enable students to undertake written tasks with ease and, perhaps most importantly, help reduce the time educators need to assess students’ performance.
In Sanako Connect, educators are able to set students tasks that test their writing skills. Connect’s flexibility enables teachers to upload stimulus material to which students can respond with detailed written answers of any length. It also supports teachers to create quizzes to test students’ spelling and grasp of key grammatical concepts.
This screenshot shows the content authoring tools in Sanako Connect. Teachers can easily create any kind of exercise they need for their lessons. They can freely mix and match stimulus materials (audio, video, text, presentations, 3rd party websites and content) and include different task types including even two-track recorders (similar to Audacity), automated pronunciation tasks or flashcards.
Reading skills (Written understanding)
Whether it’s reading menus, road signs, weather reports or transport timetables, understanding written material is a key skill for all language learners. It’s important therefore that language educators are easily able to share a wide variety of these source materials with their students.
Sanako Connect’s flexibility enables teachers to upload such digital content and to easily share it with their students. Educators are also able to create tasks for students within Connect, based on that material, to test their reading skills and understanding. This is easy to do with the in-built content authoring tools that are demonstrated on the above screenshot.
If you’d like to find out more about how Sanako Connect language teaching software can help language teachers to build learners’ core skills, please contact us now to arrange your free demo!