After years of talking about learning Spanish, and two failed attempts at teaching myself with an app, I finally registered for Spanish 101 this semester at a nearby college. In the first class I was pleasantly surprised to see the teacher writing on a Smartboard, which was used later in the class to play videos and project course content.
The class is taught using a variety of methods in different formats. We take our quizzes on tablets, provided to us by the college if we don’t have our own. The audio learning, something critical when learning a foreign language, is vastly improved from my childhood experiences. In elementary school I distinctly remember straining to hear a gravely, scratchy sounding tape from a cassette player in the front of the room. During our last quiz we could listen with our headphones to the audio portion at any time.
I’m almost halfway done with the course and I’m still trying to assess if I’m learning better with the new methods, or if I’m only learning how to become more dependent on them. For example, during the last quiz we had to fill in the right form of the verb “to be” based on the sentence. I used to have to memorize that kind of stuff, mostly through flashcards and writing it down repeatedly. However, on the quiz, I was often offered dropdown menus of possible answers. This meant instead of memorizing it, I only had to remember how to recognize it.
For our homework assignments, we log in to Supersite, a learning centre included with the textbook. In addition to the textbook, the Supersite offers video tutorials and practice sets for writing, listening, and speaking. I often do the practice sets from the Supersite, but I’m never sure how much it improves my learning. On the one hand, as mentioned above, it provides me with options for an answer instead of requiring me to have them completely memorized. But on the other hand, the answers are graded immediately with the errors highlighted. I find the instant feedback really helpful.
Overall I’m enjoying the experience of learning Spanish through so many different methods. Even with all the technological advancements, the best part of the experience for me is having a teacher who is a native speaker. The kind of thing that is sometimes missing from the software.