When I first started teaching French, I certainly could not have envisioned that all my classes would be held online, that my students might be in Hong Kong, deployed in Afghanistan, or figure-skating outside of Paris — all actively pursuing their Associate degrees from Northern Virginia Community College. But this is the case.
What my students have in common are their computers and tablets, microphones and mobile devices. Our landscape is radically different because we have Skype, our Learning Management System (LMS) with its discussion board and external links, and more recently, a free and open communication tool called Google Hangout! Now we can chat and share screens and assignments in real time or later on. For reference material, we start with Google and all kinds of Wikimedia, in addition to our college library website.
This is the open world I always hoped for — to bring education to the many and to make a dent in the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” And never in this world has it been more necessary.
Since 2000, I have been an editor of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT). A pioneer in the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement, MERLOT constitutes a one-stop site for educators who need to design a robust learning environment for their students.
Today, I want to share a few of my top tools for studying French with MERLOT. My students use and like these resources. The materials are easy to find and free, as an OER should be:
To access the following sites, click on the links or go to www.merlot.org and enter the boldfaced titles in the search field.
- Francais interactif: When my students need a concise example of language in context, Tex’s French Grammar, just one component of Francais Interactif, provides brief and humorous dialogues to illustrate structure points, bref. Complements what students learn in my course. Includes an excellently moderated Facebook page which my students visit for extra credit. Students from around the globe interact and share great video and music.
- LangMedia Foreign Language Media Archive: Direct access to culture and language through short student-produced videos with target language transcripts, realia, and language by country index. Editor’s Choice Winner!
- COERLL: Interactive multimedia learning materials in a variety of languages including LCTLS, many with five-star peer reviews in MERLOT. User-friendly and impeccably designed.
- REALIA Project: Language faculty provide target language realia online for educational use by instructors and students. Every picture tells a story leading to target language instruction.
- Today’s Front Pages: Target language newspapers with a pdf to the front page and links to the online version. Great for all levels and languages.
- Lexiquefle: Quick and easy target language vocabulary modules from Thierry Perrot. Online students get to hear a different accent than mine!
- Forvo: The largest pronunciation guide in the world. Users verify the pronunciation of words they are learning.
- BonPatron: A grammar corrector that finds spelling errors and grammar mistakes in French.
- ISL Collective Fiches FLE Gratuites: Quick access to French worksheets for students who like to learn that way.
- French Listening Resources: From Jennie Wagner, because you cannot get enough listening texts when you study online.
What kinds of resources do you think are essential to making your online class a more complete learning environment for your students? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Laura Franklin teaches French online at the Extended Learning Institute, Northern Virginia Community College. She is one of the original Co-Editors of MERLOT World Languages. For information on becoming a MERLOT World Languages Peer Reviewer, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about teaching languages using free OER, see Why I Love and Hate My Spanish MOOC by Fernando Rubio.