Although many districts around the state don't start offering second language learning instruction until students are in high school, research suggests there are many benefits to beginning second language learning in elementary school, rather than waiting until high school.
Through our partnership in Libraries Connect Ohio, INFOhio is providing Transparent Language Online to all Ohio PreK-12 students and educators at no cost to Ohio schools. Transparent Language Online is a web-based language learning platform with more than 100 languages, including English. That makes it a great resource, not only for English-speaking students who want to learn another language, but also for students whose first language is not English and who may need additional language support. Transparent Language Online includes listening, reading, speaking, and writing activities, along with KidSpeak learning games.
Do you teach 3rd graders and want to learn another language as a class while introducing students to another culture? Do you teach 5th graders and want them to be able to play language learning games independently on classroom tech devices? Do you teach middle school English Language Learners who need to improve their speaking or reading skills at home? Do you teach Spanish to high school students and want to supplement your existing curriculum? No matter what grade you teach, Transparent Language Online has something to offer you.
Highlights of PreK-12 Features in Transparent Language Online
There are more than 100 languages from which you can choose, including English. When you log into Transparent Language Online for the first time, you'll be able to set your learning path by choosing from the list of languages.
Transparent Language Online tracks your progress through your learning path, letting you see how many segments or activities you've completed and how you did on the assessments.
But you aren't tied to a single language learning path. You can select other languages and see all of your different learning paths from the drop-down menu near the top of the page.
There are resources for students in early elementary and up. Click the BROWSE button in the menu near the top. If you are looking for resources with elementary students in mind, look for menu items like "Elementary Vocabulary." If you are looking for resources for middle and high school students, look for the "Teen Voices" menu items. For six languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Mandarin), you'll also see the KidSpeak icon in the menu near the top.
KidSpeak animated games are immersion games. In other words, everything in the French version of KidSpeak is in French. However, older elementary and middle school students who want to pick up some words in a new language will quickly learn to navigate the menu of games based on context.
Don't be fooled by the single "Elementary Vocabulary" menu item. That item is packed with lots of different listening and learning activities in many different learning "units". Click the menu to see the contents of each unit.
Most units begin with a Conversation Preview. Students can listen to the entire conversation or play back individual lines.
Learning activities that may be part of the unit include Transform & Say It (break down elements of the conversation and make your own sentences), Multiple Choice (speak the correct answer), Dictation (type the missing word that you hear), Reconstruction (drag lines from the conversation into the correct order), Conversation Practice, Reading Comprehension, Produce & Say It, Produce & Write It, and Plug & Play. Activities that follow the Conversation Preview are related to what the student just read and heard.
Many units also include downloadable workbooks with additional activities.
Teen Voices segments are similar to Elementary Vocabulary but have themes geared toward students who are a bit older. These can also begin with Conversation Previews or with a segment on Cultural Awareness.
Like Elementary Vocabulary, Teen Voices units often include downloadable workbooks along with variety of learning activities and assessments.
Before you begin using Transparent Language Online in your classroom, consider your goals:
Why do these questions matter? Because in order to use Transparent Language Online, you need to create and be logged into a user account. But that doesn't mean you'll need to create individual accounts for each student in your class. Revisit your responses to those questions. They'll determine how you'll want to prepare yourself and your students for the Transparent Language Online learning experience. Here are some different examples of how you might use Transparent Language Online:
If you teach second graders and you want to direct the learning through the elementary language resources as a whole class, you don't need to create personal student accounts. Instead, you could create a generic classroom account that you use to log into Transparent Language Online. Then you can lead students through the resources as a whole class using your smart board or a projector. Spend 5 minutes each day or 20 minutes a couple times each week leading students through the Elementary Vocabulary activities. It's a great way to introduce students to different cultures and to help them learn more about the big world they live in.
If you teach fourth graders and you want them to be able to use KidSpeak independently as they rotate to different centers around your classroom, you don't need to create 23 personal student accounts. Instead, you could create generic workstation accounts—one for each computer or device your students would use during their center rotation time. Tape a small card with the Transparent Language Online username and password for that workstation to the device. Prepare the accounts in advance by adding the following languages to each account:
Then when students log in using the generic workstation account, teach them how to select a language from the drop-down and how to choose KidSpeak from the menu near the top of the page.
Before you introduce students to KidSpeak, print copies of "Should Students Learn a Foreign Language?" from Scholastic News or help students find and download the article in ISearch.
Talk about the different student opinions expressed in the article. How do they feel about learning a foreign language? If your school required them to learn another language, would that change how they feel about it? Could learning a second language be fun? How might they use some of the words and phrases they learn?
If you teach middle or high school students and you want them to be able to choose their own language learning path, use Teen Voices, track their own progress, use the resource from home, and print transcripts, you'll want students to have their own individual learning accounts and set-up depends on age.
Students ages 16 and older can create their own accounts. For students under 16, you'll need to provide directions for parents to create accounts or you'll need to create accounts on behalf of your students. Due to the General Data Protection Regulation, students under the age of 16 are not permitted to create their own Transparent Language Online accounts.
If you teach students whose first language is not English and you want them to track their English language learning improvement, use the resource from home, and encourage parents to use the resource too, you'll want students to have their own individual learning accounts.
Again, students ages 16 and older can create their own accounts. For students under 16, you'll need to provide directions for parents to create accounts or you'll need to create accounts on behalf of your students. Since Transparent Language Online was licensed for use by all Ohioans through the Libraries Connect Ohio partnership, you can encourage parents who want to learn another language or improve language skills to sign up for Transparent Language Online through your local public library!
For your privacy, INFOhio strongly encourages any student creating an account or any adult creating an account on behalf of any child NOT to use any personally identifiable information such as the child's first or last name, student ID number, birthday, email address, home address, or phone number in the username or password. And Transparent Language Online does not require names, email addresses, or any other additional contact or identification information to set up an account. To set up a Transparent Language Online account, you only need to:
If you are creating multiple accounts for workstations or on behalf of students, repeat those steps for each account you need to create.
Support and Training
See the "Transparent Language Online Promotional Resources for Libraries" link in the Training & Support section of INFOhio's Transparent Language Online page for materials you can use to promote Transparent Language Online at home and in your classroom.
Watch the recording of the Sneak Peek Webinar that Transparent Language Online hosted for INFOhio users May 2018. You'll learn more about navigating the Transparent Language Online interface, including how to change the language interface for users who need the interface directions in a language other than English.
If you have questions, contact us at support.infohio.org.
Once you've got Transparent Language Online up and running in your classroom, share why and how you're using it with the INFOhio community on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We want to know how #INFOhioWorks for you and your students!