Using Technology for Speaking Practice for Virtual or Remote Learning

In keeping with our evolving focus and mission here at World Languages 360, we are highlighting a free resource. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Dan Nickolai as part of an interview series. If you are unfamiliar, IALLT has an online publication called FLTMAG which is a practitioner-oriented magazine dedicated to language learning and technology. Among its features—aside from articles and software reviews—lies the IALLT Interview Project.

The interview with Dr. Nickolai centers on iSpraak, a solution that he developed at Saint Louis University. Much of the interview focuses on the ideation and development process, which may be of interest to any educator who has an idea for an app, program, or other solution and is considering how to bring it to fruition. More importantly though is the genius of iSpraak itself. Available for use in multiple target languages, it allows educators to set prompts and questions for learners, who then respond and receive automatically analyzed feedback. Dr. Nickolai discusses the benefits to learners as well as to faculty, particularly for those whose focus is on less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) where there may be a relative dearth of solutions. Most importantly of all, of the 4 skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), speaking may be the most challenging to do remotely.

In these times of COVID, when as of this writing we are still largely doing education virtually or remotely as the case may be, this may be a game changer and a time saver. iSpraak has been developed over time and with the full support and integrated feedback from the language learning and technology profession.

We encourage you to check it out, and we hope you find the interview and the solution of equal interest.