Teachers, why not Learning Chocolate?

As an EFL learner, I always have a feeling that there is a lack of motivation for me to acquire new vocabularies after class as long as I am not aksed to do so. Although it is significant to 'import' new words when you are abroad like me, I definately say NO to boring dictations. It is soooo lucky that my tutor introduced this website http://www.learningchocolate.com/.

1) What is the technology/ What does it do?

Attractive as its name, this website provides pictures to assist understanding. It is really more interesting than simply noting down words.  Moreover, around a topic for example Easter, it shows vocabularies related to this topic such as bunny and jellybean, which is a great assistance for acquiring those words systematically.

Don't forget!!! It is not just a vocabulary presenting platform. There are three different exercises: matching up, filling in and dication. In the matching up exercises, there are three sub-categories. Firstly, it lets you match pronunciation with spelling. Secondly, it lets you match spelling with pictures. Finally, it lets you match pictures with pronunciation. Therefore, Ss have opportunites to match pronunciation, pictures  and spelling all together. As with the last two exercises, it mainly focuses on spelling output, by providing pictures in "filling in"  and pronunciation in "dication".

Furthermore, there are ranged themes to be chosen and the topics are still being updated.

2) Why is this particular tool or technology relevant to language learning? What approaches to language learning or research underpin the use of this technology?

As mentioned above, this tool is a great creation of learning vocabularies for three reasons. Firstly, it offers various topics and these topics are being updated. Secondly, Ss can learn words with affordance of pictures and their families. Finally, the execises cover the main areas of vocabulary acquiring, namely pronunciation, meaning and spelling.

Students have fun in this wesites because of attractive pictures and vivid sound, which are of great importance to vocabulary learning (Margaurina, 2012). Therefore, it is more possible that they are motivated to learn words after class. Magford (2012) suggests independent learning is key to vocabulary development. Therefore, this websites are really helpful. (Magford and Margaurina are two participants in online forum on Research into practice: vocabulary, organized by IATEFL Research SIG, http://resig.weebly.com/1/post/2012/01/16-20-jan-2011-article-discussion-research-into-practice-vocabulary.html)

3) How might you use it to foster language learning in class/outside class?

According to the topic of each lesson, I will choose related topic in this website. I will invite Ss to do exercises ahead of time at home. Thereofore, they will have a general understanding of both the topic of a lesson and some main words that should be acquired, which benefits for new lesson delivery.
Another way to use this webiste could be that, based on the word families, students look for new words to extend the families. In this sense, this website is used as a role of a motivator that guides students to develop their own vocabulary dictionaries.

4) What limitations can you see with the use of this technology?

It only introduces concrete words which can be presented in pictures. In addition, the number of words around a particular topic is usually below ten, not so many. Therefore, the target learners' level of this webistes is limited among beginners or pre-intermediate. Moreover, Ss do not have a chance to practice speaking those words. That is one of the big concerns for Chinese students and it seems that this situation also happens in Japanese university. As Grogen (2012) aruges in the same forum talked above, it is hard to get students to speak  and they lack the awareness of the sound of English. I am still looking for a website that can get students to speak (www.languageguide.org might be an alternative since it covers a speaking session in the test).


Teachers, Why not TodaysMeet?

Are you in an embarrasing situation that students keep silent in the classroom? Are they really following you or just thinking about what to eat after class? Stop worrying now! Here is a tool used to record Ss thinking process in the classroom. You can read their mind only by creating a room before a class or speanding a few seconds at the beginning of your class. Here we are: TodaysMeet.

1) What is the technology/ What does it do?

TodaysMeet is used to make audience heard in a presentation. Their  comments and questions can be promptly presented and the presenter thereby uses these feedbacks to adapt their speech in order to
get meanings across.

It is very easy to use. First go to this website http://todaysmeet.com/, Then name your virtual room and choose a period that you want to keep this room. Finally, entre your name and your room link is in the address sector of your browser. (http://todaysmeet.com/teacherswhynot, this is a room that I created for a year. You are more than welcomed to leave your comments there).

2) Why is this particular tool or technology relevant to language learning? What approaches to language learning or research underpin the use of this technology?

For learners, this tool is beneficial for them to get their voice heard. Instead of bothering listening to teachers' monologue in the front of the classroom, students can write down their immediate ideas. In the meanwhile, this tool provides a possibility of learner-learner interaction when teachers hold the floor. Learners can see what others are thinking and might be inspired somehow.


For teachers, it is good for teacher-learner interaction. Some students are shy of public speaking. By using this, their opinions are received by teachers. At the same time, teachers can adjust their presenting content according to students' feedback in lecutures. For example, if students are still confused about a terminology after explanation, teachers can elaborate in response.

According to Mason (2005), learning and knowledge are complex adaptive systems and depended on content, context and community. In a language learning classroom, the content is what teachers plan to convey, the context is consituted by the community "teachers and learners", also including other factors such as learners' learning style. TodaysMeet is on the right track in making it possible for teachers to adapt curriculums in response to immediate interaction, which fits into the natural character of knowledge itself: being organic.  This could lead to better learning outcome.

3) How might you use it to foster language learning in class/outside class?

TodaysMeet can be used in group discussion and whole-class presentation either by teachers or by students. In both case, students are given the opportunities to share ideas with the rest of the class, including teachers. Moreover, all the content can be presented by selecting 'transcript' on the right bottom of the chatbox. Teachers then can save that content for students. Surprisingly, to make it easier, you can even share the whole content via twitter. This transcript is useful for students to review others' brainstorming. In addition, it is a good recourse for educators to collect classroom data for research purpose.

4) What limitations can you see with the use of this technology?

There are two limitation as far as I am concerned. Firstly, if the class size is too big, the data could be complex and teachers might find all infomation just bubble and hard to get the main point. Secondly, shy students find their way to express ideas in class thus the chance of speaking is avoided at the same time.

Mason, J. 2005. 'from e-Learning to e-knowledge' in M. Rao (ed.).  Knowledge management tools and techniques: practitioners and experts, Boston : Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.