Preliminary remarks - second language acquisition

An infant / young child acquires language by immersion, and a child immersed in a bilingual environment
will become bilingual effortlessly -- aided as normal children are by an aptitude for mimicry.  This language
acquisition includes relating sounds to meaning and absorbing the syntax of the language(s) in question.

By the time of pre-adolescence, the youthful ease of language acquisition declines; and mimicry carries one
only so far.  This decline in ability unfortunately coincides with junior high, high school and university-level
language classes.  Language courses are fighting an uphill battle.

It is frequently said that immersion is the most effective way to learn a language:  "just go to a
country where xxx is spoken, and you'll be fine."  The benefits of immersion are many; however, immersion is
also, by definition, relatively unstructured and open-ended.  Language classes, on the other hand, are very
structured and potentially efficient.  Our goal as language teachers should be to structure our classes efficiently
to simulate immersion.  This is where technology comes in; today's multimedia resources can bring the
sights and sounds of the target language and culture into the classroom and into the student's personal
study.  The media can also engage students in real (or at least realistic) situated learning and promote
meaningful interaction in authentic discourse communities.

Technologies related to language teaching

(in historical order?)
writing systems
audio recording (disks, open-reel tape, cassettes)
overhead projector
motion pictures
television (videotape, VCRs)
language labs
digital media (computers, cameras, minicams, audio editors, iPods and similar devices, CDs, DVDs, etc. ...)

Gilbert and Sullivan's motto for language teachers - Let the punishment fit the crime

Don't use a technology merely because it is there, like Mt. Everest.  For instance, how many times have you suffered
through bad presentations in the ubiquitous Powerpoint?  Think first of your instructional objectives and the desired
student outcomes, then proceed to choices. 

We'll now consider your options:  buy? borrow? make your own?

What's out there?  commercial sources, personal and coop websites

You are not alone.

Organizations Am. Council on the Teaching of FL Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium International Association for Language Learning Technology Northeast Conference on the Teaching of FL Vermont Foreign Language Association

Commercial/public resources Applause Learning Resources (all levels, most languages) BBC courses in French, German, Italian, Spanish Facets Multimedia (FL feature films) Heinle Houghton Mifflin Resource Centers World of Reading (all levels, most languages)

References (general, see below for language-specific) Foreign Language Teaching Forum Internet Activities for Foreign Language Classes Language Learning and Technology (Michigan State) Teaching with the Web Technology and Language Instruction Technology and Second Language Teaching Technology for Language Teaching (Ohio University)

ESL Dave's ESL Cafe  The Internet TESL Journal English and French Language Resources

French Français interactif France Synergies Guide de vocabulaire Tennessee Bob's Famous French Links

German Deutsche Grammatik Deutsche Internet Chronik Guten Tag

Latin Latin Links from Cornell The Perseus Digital Library Teach-nology

Spanish Gramática y Ortografía Web Spanish Lessons Webspañol



This page you are looking at is a simple example of material created with Mozilla Composer, the predecessor of Nvue, which
then became Komposer.  (In the works is a replacement called SeaMonkey.)   It has only text and some links

to other websites; it could be much more elaborate with pictures, sound recordings, and video clips.  You can
download Komposer from the UVM software archives.   You can learn how to use Komposer here:

Komposer Tutorial

Sound Recording

Audacity is a versatile recording program available as a free download.  It runs on both Mac and Windows
operating systems.  You can get it here:

Various audio capture programs allow you to make recordings from online sources such as radio stations.  My favorite
is WireTap Pro (which currently will cost you $19).


The simplest way to find pictures is to do an image search that yields a picture you can copy to your computer.  When you
need to "take a snapshot" of something on your screen, I recommend Capture Me (for Mac users).