What you need to know before integrating technology in your foreign language classroom

What you need to know before you start integrating technology in your foreign language classroom.


In this first part of the series on “5 Steps to Incorporating Technology into your Foreign Language Classroom“, we will take a look at what you need to consider before you start this process.

Integrating technology into your teaching is more than just having students use a tool or app in the classroom. By “more” I don’t necessarily mean more work, I mean “more mentality”, as there needs to be a change in your approach to planning your lessons and in your teaching method, a mind shift! But it is all part of a process that you should enjoy and grow with.

What do I mean by a change in approach to planning and teaching? Well, George Couros and Bill Ferriter could not have said it better:

Couros and Ferriter Tech Integration


So, where to start the process of integrating technology in the foreign language classroom?….. Over here:

  • Don’t feel pressured: this is the era of technology and we hear about incorporating it not only into our teaching, but our lives as well. Don’t let yourself be pressured into anything! Take it one step at a time! Sure, some schools may be requiring it now, but if you take the time to create a process and figure out the best way for you and your students, it will become a sustainable and long-term shift. Any process takes time and practice!


  • It is all about redefining: “just bringing new technology in your classroom and working it into day-to-day routines is not enough” says Jennie Magiera, a Chicago teacher who talks about redefining her instruction after she was awarded 32 ipads for her classroom. You need to redefine yourself and your teaching! It is a process that becomes intuitive just like the use of internet. Remember those first times you had access to the internet? Did you know exactly what to do and where to go? Now you would not see yourself without it! You use it for everything! My mother in law recently acquired WIFI for her home. Just yesterday she went online to look for the 800 phone number of an airline to check on a flight, although she had all the flight details to do just that on the website itself : ). It will take some time, but once it is part of your routine, you know exactly where to use it, how and why!


  • Assess your resources: think about your current technology situation. To begin, there are 3 important aspects you need to assess
    1. Access: what kind of technology do you have access to and where? Do you have computers/tablets in you classroom? Are the devices in a lab? Can your students bring their own device? Does your classroom have access to WIFI? Do students have access to devices at home? Do they have internet at home? These answers will help you plan your process, as you should aim to start using what is available to you now.
    2. Your skills: thinking in terms of technology, what do you feel comfortable doing right now? Which tools do you currently use (this includes email, social platforms, other online tools/websites)? Would you feel comfortable using any type of tool? Do you figure out how to use new tech tools and websites easily? What would be your baseline?
    3. Student skills: students are usually tech “natives” and can get around using any new tool, gadget or software easily. However, think about what tools they use already, what software, what kind of websites and apps. Will they need any specific help or instruction?


  • Research and connect: the best way to inform yourself  and be more knowledgeable about technology integration is reading about it, researching, studying, seeing it applied, viewing examples. You do not need to wait for your school to offer professional development on this topic. Be proactive and look for it yourself. It will be so worth it! First, because you will be able to learn at your own pace. Second, because what is already out there is of very high quality. Teachers are sharing so much knowledge and experience. Some catalog every step and share every part of their story…what better way to get into it! Here is a list of places where you can start reading, learning, experimenting and most importantly connecting
    1. Blended Learning Essentials – Getting Started: free online course from the University of Leeds starting Nov 2, 2015.
    2. Blended Learning & Technology in the Classroom: English teacher – Caitlin Tucker’s blog.
    3. #edtech: educational technology Twitter hashtag
    4. EdTechTeacher Blog: in this blog edtech instructors share ideas that you can take into your classroom
    5. 10 Edtech Blogs to Follow: 10 educational technology blogs written by teachers


  • Record your journey: to build up on your journey! It does not have to be an 800 word journal entry. It is enough to keep track of essentials, how you prepared, what you used, and how it worked out in class. Kind of like a traditional lesson plan. Recording will help you refer back to each stage easily to reflect on it, use it again, change it, etc.


The bottom line in this “prep” stage is – the more you know about your starting point the better prepared you’ll be to begin the shift to technology integration. You need to know your baseline!


Further reading:

  • How digital learning contributes to deeper learning – Infograph by gettingsmart.com


How digital learning contributes to deeper learning infograph

Read more at Part III – how to prepare your lesson plans and create specific goals to integrate technology tools in your foreign language lessons.

2 Responses to What you need to know before you start integrating technology in your foreign language classroom.

  1. Pamela Hill August 13, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Great post!
    Under “Assess your resources,” I would add to look around and see who in your school who is willing to help. As the librarian, I’m also the Instructional Technology Specialist, as are many other librarians out there. I’ve helped many teachers when they were just starting out with new technology. I’m there as a partner for them, even in the classroom with them when then need me. This has helped many teachers adjust and ease into using technology on their own. :)

    Also, do you mean “mind shift” in the second paragraph?


    • Emilia Carrillo August 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      Hi Pam,
      Thanks for your message and of course great suggestion! Colleagues such as yourself are always the best of help!
      And yes, I did mean shift :)