5 hidden iPad features for language learning.

This year I am working at a new school where all the kids are new Dutch immigrants. That means that they have just arrived in The Netherlands and our biggest job is to teach them Dutch as quickly as possible. We are a 1:1 iPad school and we have seen students benefit greatly from all of the rich-media language learning apps. This blog post however does not focus on the apps, but the features that are built within the iPad. Take some time to explain these features in the iPad’s settings to make your students aware of how they can benefit their language learning.

1. Change your iPad’s language

As your students will be using the iPad throughout the day they will be forced to read the same sentences over and over again. Changing the iPad’s language to the target language will help students learn new vocabulary and context for words that relate to those topics. They will familiarise themselves with the spelling and the grammar of phrases like slide to unlock, new message, notification center,  calendar etc.
To change your iPad’s language go to: Settings -> General -> Language and Region -> Language.

2. Speak ScreenSpeak screen

If a student comes across a new word and doesn’t know how to pronounce it they can turn on Speak Screen and then the voiceover voice will speak whichever chunk of text they have selected. The highlight words option works really well as well as it helps students visualise which word they are hearing in the sentence. It is not perfect in that the voice does sound quite computerised but it still quite helpful.

To turn on Speak Screen go to: Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speak Selection on. 

3. Subtitles & Captioning153px-Closed_captioning_symbol.svg

Turning this feature on will automatically turn on subtitles for all videos that have that feature enabled. These subtitles will only work where available look for the CC icon on movies that you want to play.
If you are making your own video’s and you want to add subtitles check out Amara for webbased video’s, like vimeo and youtube and Sub Edit for video’s on your Mac.

To turn on Subtitles & Captioning go to: settings -> General Accessibility -> Subtitles & Closed Captioning.

4. Define word2014-11-21 22.55.50

Whenever students come across a word that they do not know they can select it and press “define” after which the definition will be given. Dictionary is currently available in the following languages,

  • American English
  • British English
  • Italian
  • German
  • Korean
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Dutch
  • Chinese
  • Japanese

In order for this to work you need to download the dictionary in your preferred language.

To download dictionaries  select a word in Safari -> define -> manage -> chose the language. 

5. Check Spelling on and Auto-correction off

Check spelling  AutocorrectStudents should have the keyboard of their target language installed. (Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Add new keyboards). This will allow them to check the spelling as they are typing text. The auto-correction should be turned off as, not only is it annoying, we also want students to become conscious of their spelling. So they should change their spelling manually rather than automatically.

To turn Check spelling on got to: Settings -> General -> Check Spelling

To turn Auto-correction off go to: Settings -> General -> Auto-correction 


Bonus. Listen to directions

This is one for learning outside of the classroom and possible for adult language learners. Learning by way of taks relevant to your daily life is very effective. This technique especially as not understanding the directions will have real consequences. You won’t arrive at your destination. For this to work you need to have set the device’s language to the target language.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. […] This blog post however does not focus on the apps, but the features that are built within the iPad. Take some time to explain these features in the iPad’s settings to make your students aware of how they can benefit their language learning.  […]

  2. […] Unsurprisingly, I championed the impact of the MFL Twitterati on classroom practice and shared my top tips for nuturing a successful subject specific community. Below is a summary of our discussion. 5 hidden iPad features for language learning. […]

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