Audio feedback: the key to learning languages

José Picardo, assistant principal and languages teacher at Surbiton High School, explains how Showbie’s audio feedback functionality makes learning a language more comprehensive, and more exciting for students.

Surbiton High School is a 1:1 school, where every student and staff member has their own iPad or tablet device. While this is an encouraging step in the right direction, in order for digital schools to be truly successful and worthwhile, a tool that facilitates and coheres learning, oversees the workflow between student and teacher, and makes school-parent communication simple is essential.
Showbie is a classroom management app designed to enable teachers to digitally issue assignments and provide feedback on homework or tasks. The app manages the workflow for both teachers and students, and makes it easy for teachers and parents to monitor students’ progress; its overarching aim is to simplify and facilitate the workflow and feedback between teachers and students, and ensure that parents, students and teachers are on the same page.
Schools can be very conservative places, especially when new technology is introduced, however, when Showbie was introduced two years ago, we had students and teachers queueing up to get set up on it; it was unprecedented!

Audio feedback ¡es muy beneficioso!
Where the app really came into its own for me, was in my language classes. As a language teacher, I am no longer restricted to setting reading and writing homework assignments, as the audio feedback feature means listening and speaking exercises can now also be completed. When I set these types of homework, the audio feedback enables students to record themselves and send it to me for moderation; the process continues until the answer ¡es perfecto! I can give them audio corrections, so that they can hear how the phrases or words are pronounced, thus ensuring a certain level of proficiency when it comes to them actually talking in Spanish.
Learning a language is about more than just understanding words and phrases; the ability to pronounce words and comprehend the language when it is spoken is crucial for a thorough understanding. Students are enthused and excited to learn when the process is engaging and progressive; audio feedback makes this possible and, as a result of being able to practise speaking, writing, listening and reading in another language, student attainment is boosted.

Faster learning
There has been also been a significant improvement in the speed of learning within the school. The homework process used to be a lengthy procedure whereby it would be issued on a Monday, handed in the following week and then returned with a grade and feedback the week after; the entire process took a fortnight and wasted precious learning time. Classroom management tools help to streamline the entire process, as students can now receive suggestions and improvements from their teacher as soon as they start or complete the assignment. This ability to provide constructive feedback throughout the process means students’ work is of a far greater standard, as they are able to understand what they need to do to progress. As homework can now be issued and completed within the same week, the class can move onto the next topic sooner, so students’ are progressing far quicker than before.
From a teacher’s perspective, marking is a timely process, so we are usually only able to issue each student with a grade and brief comments for improvement. The audio feedback tool makes it easy to provide in-depth feedback when marking, which means students are able to better understand how they can improve their work.

Going forward
Classroom management apps create paperless classrooms and make organising the learning environment simple. There is no need to waste precious time searching for a student’s work amongst a huge pile of paper, because it is organised into portfolios, so teachers can search by name, grade or class.
I would certainly recommend using a classroom management tool to any school that is looking to use mobile devices to facilitate education. It has improved the standard of learning in our school and efficiently manages the workflow and communication between students, teachers and parents. The paperless classroom also means that schools not only save a lot of money each year, but also positively help towards saving the planet too! The entire school has benefitted from using a classroom management app, but none more so than our language students who are now able to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the dialect and are able to speak it with confidence and vigour. ¡Showbie es muy fantástico!