CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LATEST SCHOOLS TO INSTALL A SANAKO LANGUAGE LAB
|Defense Language Institute
Foreign Language Center
St. Giles International
San Francisco, CA
Mason High School
Riverside Elementary School
Lambert High School
Tandberg Educational, Inc. and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) build on their long-standing relationship with the SANAKO Study 1200
Tandberg Educational, Inc. is installing the SANAKO Study 1200
throughout the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
at the Presidio of Monterey. The recently awarded 4 year contract will
standardize the entire Institute on the SANAKO Study 1200 for all their
Regarded as one of the finest schools of foreign language instruction
in the world the Presidio of Monterey provides instruction in some 23
languages plus several dialects and can accommodate more than 3500
students. The DLIFLC has established itself as a national pacesetter in
foreign language education using cutting-edge educational technology
which includes their standardizing all their instructional labs in 875
classrooms with SANAKO Study 1200.
| So you want them to talk..
By Deborah Fernald Roberts
Foreign Language Department Head
If you were to ask teachers of modern foreign languages
which skill they would most like their students to master, the vast majority of
them would say speaking- they want their students to be able to communicate and
hold conversations in the language they are learning. If you were to ask their
parents about their own high school language learning experiences, easily half
of them would say something roughly equivalent to "I took 3 years of French
(Spanish, German, etc.) in high school but I can't speak a word of it". Chances
are that many of them used the language labs of the seventies and eighties,
where the emphasis was on rote drill and substitution exercises such as:
Digital language labs of the 21st century have
many features that enable teachers to move their students beyond repetition and
pattern drills toward proficiency- the ability to communicate and exchange
information about a variety of topics of general interest. Proficiency is front
and center in the National Standards
for Foreign Language Learning which are based on the five "Cs"-
Communication, Culture, Comparisons, Connections, and Communities.
Communication is split into three different modes: Interpersonal, Interpretive
and Presentational. Interpersonal communication involves the exchange of
information between at least two people. While interpersonal communication can
be written, it is in the language lab where teachers have a wonderful opportunity
to engage students in tasks that will help to develop their proficiency in spoken
Est-ce que tu vas à la bibliothèque? (
Est-ce tu vas au cinéma?
Est-ce que tu vas au cinéma? (charcuterie)
To a certain extent we still tend to focus activities in the
language lab on the development of grammatical skills. It is easy to direct our
students to websites where students can practice verb conjugations, pronoun
substitutions and the like. While it is necessary for students to learn these
building blocks of language, this in and of itself does not lead to proficiency
in oral communication. Students need multiple opportunities to talk with each
other, take risks, make mistakes, and get feedback before they can become
proficient speakers. Sanako labs have features which allow students to engage
in both guided and spontaneous interpersonal communication, often in response
to an open-ended prompt. It is activities of this type which will help our
students to develop the ability to communicate with their peers and the
confidence to use their language skills in real-life situations.
Putting students in telephone mode, where they can
communicate directly with other students in the lab via headphones, is one such
feature. You might set students the task of interviewing others (maybe 3 or 4)
in the class to find out what their partners did over the past weekend (school
vacation, summer months). By asking and answering questions using previously
learned vocabulary and grammatical structures (past tense) the students perform
this task, perhaps with the aid of a series of questions which were generated
in a brainstorming session prior to going to the language lab. This would give
students the practice they need to be able to accomplish this task. To turn
this into an assessment, where students would be graded on their ability to
perform this task, the random pairing mode could be used. Students would then
be paired with someone whose identity they do not know in advance and would
record and save their conversations. The teacher could then use a rubric to
score these interactions based on criteria which had been previously presented
to students. In addition to using the telephone and random pairing modes for
practice and assessment, there is another feature of the lab which could be
used to give them feedback. The teacher could record a spoken commentary at the
end of their dialogue, or could use the "mark-to-speak" feature to imbed
comments on pronunciation, grammatical errors, or vocabulary choices at
appropriate points in the dialogue. After listening to these comments on a
subsequent visit to the lab, the students could even do a final take which
would give them the opportunity to improve their previous performance.
Here are some other conversation topics or prompts that
could be used as described above:
are going on an overnight class trip to a nearby city during which they will
take a city tour, visit a museum, eat in a nice restaurant, and see a play. Two
students discuss what they are going to bring with them for clothing.
students are planning a birthday party for a friend. They discuss what there
will be to eat, what the activities will be, whom they will invite as well as
other details about the party.
students are discussing a problem that one of them has. It could be a problem
with a friend, at school, or at home. The listener has to ask for more
information about the problem to be able to give the other student some advice
about how to deal with the problem. At first this advice is rejected, so the
listener then gives additional suggestions, one of which is accepted.
students discuss what they have to do to help out around the house. They talk
about chores they like and dislike how often they have to do them, and make
comparisons to what other members of the family have to do.
students both went to the same party last night. Both were surprised by the
behavior and appearance of some of the fellow guests. Someone looked really sad,
another was really annoyed, and a third was in a bad mood. You discuss how
people looked and offer possible explanations for their emotions.
All of these prompts could easily be turned into homework
assignments or written assessments where students have to summarize the results
of their conversations.
Research tells us that that for most learners of a second
language, speaking is the last skill to develop. The receptive skills,
listening and reading, develop much more quickly, and students seem much more
willing to take risks in the productive skill of writing than they are in
speaking. If we want them to become proficient in interpersonal communication,
we need to create multiple opportunities for them to engage in unscripted
conversations. The language lab offers students the chance to practice until
they feel comfortable and confident in taking risks. It also offers teachers
the opportunity to assess their progress, determine if activities are
effective, and ultimately revise and improve instruction so that we can reach
our goal of having students be able to exchange information with others in the
language they are learning.
An Update on the ARRA Funds........
Secretary Duncan has made it
clear all schools and districts should
be considering how to use the ARRA fiscal stabilization funds to improve
student outcomes over the next two years and to advance reforms that will have
a long-term impact.
The most recent federal guidance
says decision makers should consider whether they can answer "YES" to the
- Will the proposed use of funds drive improved results for
- Increase educators' long-term capacity to improve students'
- Advance improvement plans and reform goals encompassed in ARRA?
- Serve as "bridge funding" to help transition to more effective and
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- Foster continuous improvement?
A Language Lab is still the
BEST instructional tool available for language learning.