Using iPads on the first day of class

Penn GSE graduate student Liming Zhong teaches Cantonese at the Penn Language Center. She shares her reflections after using WIC iPads with her students:

As a language teacher, I believe that practice is very important for language learning. However, the language that I am teaching, which is Cantonese, is not a written language but a spoken one. It’s very hard for learners to practice speaking skills on their own because they might not know whether they are saying it right. I find using iPads (and other mobile devices) can solve this problem and eventually increase learning efficiency. There are some good apps that provide users with daily new words, sample sentences, and some other useful expressions such as “How much is this?” and “Where is the restroom?” Learners can download these apps on their iPads or smart phones, listen to the recordings of the words and sentences, and even record themselves. This enables learners to get language input and produce output wherever and whenever.

With a strong belief in practice and technology, I reserved 16 iPads from the Weigle Information Commons and used them on the first day my class. It was fantastic! First of all, the iPads “wake my students up” and draw their attention quickly. At the beginning of the class, we were reviewing the syllabus and I could tell some students felt a little bit bored. However, when I took out the iPads, the students were really surprised and I heard them saying: “Wow!” Apparently, they felt really cool, having the iPads in a language classroom. Second, students had a hands-on experience with using the apps. After they tried all the fancy and interesting functions in the app, they then could decide whether to download it on their own mobile devices.

Overall, it was a great experience. The staff of the Weigle Information Commons are very supportive and helpful. I really appreciate their help and I plan to use this service again.

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