Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Lab on wheels addresses shyness

September 7, 2006

Students learning foreign languages in De Soto are getting the latest technology benefits with a new lab.

At De Soto High School, Spanish teacher Nancy Perry can use the portable language lab to listen to her students. The complete unit can travel on wheels from classroom to classroom, giving teachers the opportunity to better gauge their students' language abilities.

Perry said the system provided 30 headphones to students and a monitoring system for the teacher. With the flick of a switch, she can listen to any one of her students.

"They don't know when I'm listening," she said. "But I'm the only one who can hear them."

Perry said she hoped the mobile lab unit would improve students' confidence as they learned to read another language out loud.

"They're so afraid to make a mistake," she said. "Here, there's no one listening but me."

Perry said reading aloud and learning proper pronunciation was integral for learning a foreign language. Oral comprehension is also part of the state standard.

With the portable lab, students can use DVDs or CDs that come with their textbooks. They can access online songs or readings in another language. There's even a cassette tape player for the old-fashioned.

"I think all the foreign language teachers are pleased we've taken this step," she said.

Another unit has been purchased for Mill Valley High School.

Perry said last year, learning coaches were involved in helping bring the portable labs to DHS.

"It's an expense to remain competitive with other schools," she said.

Perry said the lab would also be used for the French classes. She said it could even be used for English as a Second Language students. Perry said her third- and fourth-year language students could use the portable labs for self-study.

"It can be used for anything -- anything with an oral counterpart," she said.

Perry said it would be easier for her to give oral tests at the same time as written ones using the new system. Students can give their assignments without disturbing anyone doing written work.

Perry can also use the system to make announcements to the entire class. The best part is that the portable lab locks securely in place.

"Mr. Morford could even come in and plug in a headset and listen to how we're doing."

Perry said she and other teachers trained on the units this month. She said the possibilities for using the portable labs were endless -- even elementary and middle schools could benefit.

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