Duolingo for JHS Students in Japan

Pretty good, as long as you can avoid the pitfalls

Duolingo classrooms

Last year I recommended Duolingo to one of my students: a junior high school boy who had been struggling with English.

He got really into it, doing a lesson a day or so for the last six months. His score on the last school test of the year? 96%.

I’ve played with Duolingo to review my French, German, and Spanish skills, and to have a go at Swedish, but they also have a teacher dashboard where you can track student progress.

You can set up classes (see the image at the top of the post) and see class and student progress:

Class progress

Student progress

Best of all, it’s free and optimized for smarphones and tablets. You can also use it on a computer, but I think the mobile version is better (less typing).

Beginners and low-level students can start at the beginning, and more experienced students can take the level test and skip the easier lessons.

For students who don’t have their own smartphones, I ask them to install it on their parent’s and borrow it for English practice.

Not everyone is doing the optional homework, but the ones who are seem to be enjoying it.

I have run into two big problems so far:

1) some students click on ‘let’s get started’ instead of ‘log in’ and end up making new accounts that I can’t track. I haven’t quite figured out how to fix that one yet.

2) some students have found that their account is set to Spanish. As they don’t read Spanish they weren’t able to fix the settings. Fortunately I do read Spanish, so was able to do it for them.

Other than those two problems, I really recommend Duolingo for junior high school and above. It’s a fun and different way to get more English input and practice.

Anyone else using Duolingo? How are you finding it?

Reviews page

New year, new features

review

Happy New Year!

The eagle-eyed among my visitors may have noticed the shiny new ‘pages’ menu in the top right-hand corner of the site. You’ll find all the reviews I have done gathered there, and I aim to add to them more regularly in 2014. I hope you find it useful.

Please feel free to add your comments or questions.

Google Currents

google currents logo

Do you remember when Google shut down their RSS application Reader earlier in the year? I was quite upset at the time, but have since started using Digg Reader and have come to forgive them in my heart.

Google has something called Google Currents that appears to have been around for a couple of years now. I think I have it on my Nexus 7, but I never really knew what it was until my friend Parin wrote about it on Facebook just now.

To cut a long story short, you can now subscribe to this blog on Google Currents, by following this link. Or for even more personal service, sign up for email delivery in the box at the top right of this page.

If you want to know more, including how to set up Google Currents to publish your content from WordPress, the video below is very clear.

To Do Lists and Project Management: Trello

trello

Recently I have been playing with a great free online resource called Trello that is designed to help teams work together on projects.

There are two main things I do on the site: manage my to do list and coordinate tasks within teams (one of colleagues at university and one at Cambridge English).

To Do List

In Trello I have a personal to-do list board. I have divided the board into four: today, this week, future, and waiting (I got this idea from Leo Babauta, who got it from Ryan Carson). I populate the future and this week lists as things come in, then move them to today every morning. So far it’s really helping me keep track of various things.

Coordinating Teams

You can also add other people to groups, and assign them to tasks. They can write notes on things, archive completed tasks, etc. It’s incredibly useful to delegating and sharing tasks.

Right now Trello consists of a website and apps for iOS and Android. The basic version is free, and there is a paid enterprise version as well (I don’t know what it does). I’ve used other productivity apps before, like Wunderlist, the iOS Reminders app, and Google Docs, but this has been the best one so far.

Please leave any software tips in the comments!

 

Google Reader

google reader

Just a very quick reminder that if you follow this blog’s RSS feed using Google Reader, it will be switched off on Monday.

I’m disappointed, as I find it a really useful tool, but I have found two passable alternatives:

Feedly
Digg Reader

I’ve also been changing over to following blogs through email subscription. Please consider doing that by signing up in the box on the top right.

More teaching stuff next week!

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