World Language and Mobile Learning Apps (Technology)

Do world language students use technology? Do teachers have their students use technology just for drill and practice for vocabulary and grammar?

Students do not need to have fifty, forty, thirty, twenty or even ten apps. Technology is not about collecting apps but about improving student learning through apps. Any app should help the students to reach the higher levels of language use.

Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, send audio and text messages to native speakers and video chat with native speakers. Technology can bring up-to-the-moment culture of the target language area directly to the students.

The language learners can use their tablet or phone to take pictures of their family, their house,or their outside events so that they can talk about their own lives in class.

Technology should promote language communication (Tuttle, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, 2013)

How do you use technology in your world language classroom?

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

Internet Images for World Language Culture

Some ideas from Beers, Maggie. (2001). A media-based approach to developing ethnographic skills for second language teaching and learning. Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht [Online], 6(2), 26 pp. Available:

Instructional materials for modern languages were once limited to one-dimensional textbooks which often presented a static, unproblematic representation of the target language culture (Kramsch, 1988, 1989).

Now the Internet can deliver multi-modal texts from the target language culture that include sound, image, text, and video.

These texts, deemed “authentic” because they are intended for native speakers of the target language, are able to present a dynamic, multifaceted view of the target language culture with up-to-the-minute detail and accuracy. “

– Do your students use one-dimensional textbook cultural images or do they see many different images of a place or event?
– Do your students see and hear the culture through images, texts and videos?
– Do you use authentic images?
– Do the images show multifaceted views of the culture?
– Are the images up-to-the-minute?

May the way you use culture help students to see the oneness of the world.

For cultural activities that actively involve students go to and look under culture. Also, there are many cultural activities in 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities.

Three Levels of World Language Culture

Level 1: Students learn about another culture and the people from another culture by listening to the teacher, watching videos about another culture, seeing pictures, reading information,searching the web,  etc. At this level, the culture is one sided, the students learn about the other culture

Level 2: Students communicate with people from another culture. They can phone, videochat, converse with a native speaker in the class, email/text each other, send pictures, etc. Typically these conversations are about similarities and differences between the two cultures – a school day, places, foods, family, etc. A USA student may interview a person from Peru who works in the USA about food in Peru. A native speaker may teach something to the class and students ask questions about it.

Level 3: Students from both cultures work together on a collaborative project that goes beyond either classroom. For example, they may work together on ways to improve recycling in their communities, raise money for a Kiva project, be part of a rebuilding project, creating books for each other’s school, etc.


What level are your students at in terms of world language culture?

At, an ebook 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities (mainly speaking and many current culture activities).  At, many culture activities for interactive culture:

Modern Language Culture Activities Pack 4 Different Activities
Modern Language Culture Cities Visual Analysis
Modern Language Culture Ethnographic Observation
Modern Language Culture Mini-Presentation
Modern Language Culture Native Speaker In-Depth Interview

At,  5 any language  picture speaking activities and 25+ ready-to-use Spanish structured speaking activities  for beginning students (including 5 Can-Do ones). At, an ebook. Modern Language Proficiencies-Can-Do with many activities.  At, a book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment.

Culture Trips- historical or modern day culture

On a recent trip, I met a high school student who had just returned from a  school trip to the target language country. When I told him, I was a Spanish teacher, he showed me his itinerary- three cities with visits to historic and religious buildings. As I heard him describe what he saw and did in the trip, I wondered why it was a Spanish language trip since most of what he saw was  buildings. Yes, the students and teachers spoke in Spanish but their tours were in English. The students learned about these famous buildings and the history behind them. It sounded  like a Social Studies trip.
Another thing that fascinated me was that the students had no contact with native speakers except for the tour guides. They did not have the opportunity to learn about the daily culture of today. The trip only focused on the past as seen in buildings, not the living breathing culture of today.

What type culture trips do you take with your students?

At, I have numerous students-as-investigators cultural activities (modern language culture). At, I have an ebook 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities (mainly speaking and many current culture activities).

 Also, at, I have 5 any language  picture speaking activities and 25+ ready-to-use Spanish structured speaking activities  for beginning students (including 5 Can-Do ones). At, I have an ebook. Modern Language Proficiencies-Can-Do.  At, I have a book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment.

Modern Language Culture -Like it

Many modern language teachers love to return to the target language country. They enjoy the food. They delight in walking the streets to soak up the culture.  Notice the verbs in the previous three statements. They are not factual verbs but they are emotionally positive verbs.

Modern language teachers want their students to like the target language country. However, often the teachers’ presentations do not contribute to a positive feeling about the target language country. When students learn the factual culture such as the country’s name, its location, its flag, its unit of money, its geography, and the famous places in the country these facts do not help the students feel positively about the culture.

Modern language teachers can connect their students to real people from the culture. These teachers go beyond having their students read about the people in their textbook. They have their student talk with a native speaker about common themes such as weekends, sports, food, clothing, housing. They can have a native speaker physically come in the class or they can use a program like Skype to virutally bring a person in. Teachers may show a picture of a person and then have that person phone in.

A native speaker helps students to move from learning  facts about a country to actually meeting someone from the country. Students begin to like that country.

How do you help your students like the modern language culture?

At there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity. At the same location, I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities and Modern Language Proficiciency: Can-Do Strategies ebooks are available at



Photos Provide Context in Modern Language Speaking

When native speakers have a conversation, they use context. They talk about what they see and experience or have seen or experienced.  Visuals supply our students with a context to improve their speaking. Visuals such as photographs provide a scaffolded structured technique to talk about common topics.

One way for teachers to obtain photos is to search Flickr ( in the target language with the topic and the country such as the  ”casa venezuela”.

When teachers do a house unit, teachers can have their students talk about the rooms in a  house that they see projected on the screen or that they have taken on their cell phones.  The vague “Talk about a kitchen” does not have any meaningful context to the students but “How does this (projected) kitchen compare to your kitchen?” has a very meaningful and concrete context.  Students can use all the visual clues to help them talk more. Students can see what is in the projected kitchen, go through the kitchen item by item, and say many comparisons.

Photos allow students to get engaged in a situation.  As students exam the people, their activities, the objects, and the location in a photo, they explain what is happening. The teachers ask their students to explain,  in detail, to their partners in the modern language,  “Will you stay at the party or leave?  Why?” as they look at a party photo from the target language area. Students can give many reasons in the modern language to support their opinion.

Projected images from sources like Flickr have the additional advantage of being culturally authentic. For example, as students do the house speaking, they are looking at an actual  house in the target language country.

How do you put your students into meaningful contexts for speaking through photos?

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at

I have developed 27 Spanish activities  and 4 Modern Language Visual activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at

Modern Language Textbook as the Only Tool or as One of Many Tools

During my recent presentation on “Transforming Textbook Activities into Spontaneous Speaking Ones,”, I  polled the audience of  modern language teachers  to find out  how many created or found additional material for their textbook. Over 90% of the audience raised their hands. These language  teachers had textbooks from  various publishers; the teachers represented many different languages and different  levels of learning. These teachers commented that a textbook is just a tool. It is not the only tool in a teacher’s repertoire. Other tools are better at certain times.  Just as a carpenter would not use a hammer to saw wood,  teachers understand that each tool has its unique purpose. They select their tool for a  specific  learning purpose.  In addition, when teachers use different tools, they add variety to the classroom.

Many foreign language  teachers use video tools such as YouTube to show a real life example rather than having students just look at  the printed word from the textbook.  For example, a Spanish teacher may show a YouTube video of people at a hospital emergency room in the target country, have their students identify the basic emergency room vocabulary, and, then, have the students role play an emergency room  conversation based on watching the video with no sound.  The static textbook  tool cannot duplicate the  actions of real people from a video tool.

Many modern language teachers incorporate outside readings or current cultural events that are not in the textbook.  The textbook chapter done in December may deal with common foods but not with  foods unique to the cultural celebrations  that occur in  the target language country at that time. Students who only use a textbook  tool  could go through the whole year without ever learning about the current  celebrations / activities in  the target language country.

Many foreign  teachers  try to engage their students in conversations that go beyond the limited ones in the textbook. The teachers may use  the tools of objects (authentic cultural items from the target country),  pictures from the target language area, video clips,  prompted conversations, current school topics, etc. to promote conversation.  When students move from just asking or answering textbook questions about a topic to engaging in interactive, highly responsive conversations through other conversation prompting tools, they improve their speaking.

Do you use your modern language textbook as the only tool or as a tool? Do you have one resource, the textbook, or a variety of resources?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group), Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs), and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers: I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students. Can use in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

My book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, and my book, Formative Assessment, Responding to Students, are available at