Thursday, 6 December 2012

Other iPad apps to use in MFL lessons, especially for @dragonfly_edu

I received a message from the good people from @dragonfly_edu yesterday, praising how I used an iPod shuffle in Spanish. Dragonfly training specialises in training schools on how to use iPads to maximise learning in MFL lessons. I am by no means an expert on this matter, but thought I would share my experiences using iPads when I teach Spanish to the Year 6 children in my school.

1. Comic life - creating conversations as a comic.

I remember being taught French at high school, and the first thing everybody had to do was a simple conversation with a partner. This is my third year teaching Spanish to Year 6, and I have always started with that same topic. To freshen up this tried and tested formula, though, I have the children create comic strips of their conversation. Most children use pictures of themselves (using the iPad's camera) Whilst others will copy pictures from the internet, or even use images from their photo library of other family members, friends or even pets to create a 'Que tal' conversation.


2. Pages - To create posters of key vocabulary.

A few years back it was all the rage to show Powerpoints of the key words, for the children to learn. I feel that this idea is a bit stale now, and I'm constantly looking for different ways of introducing (and helping children retain) key vocabulary words. Last half term we were revising key words for classroom items e.g. la goma, el boligrafo, la mesa etc. I created a wordsearch of this key vocabulary for the children to find the words, and then asked the children to present these key words using Pages. Each child created a personalised poster of the Spanish vocabulary they had learnt, and then found and inserted pictures into their poster as a visual clue. This was saved on their iPads for them to access at home, and a paper copy was printed and stuck in their books for reference.

3. Wordfoto - Another brilliant method of introducing new vocabulary.

I absolutely love wordfoto, I think that it is a brilliant way of presenting a set of key words or vocabulary. I have not actually used this in an MFL lesson yet, but intend to after Christmas. Here is an example image created using wordfoto:

Like I said, I have not used this before in Spanish, so have not fully decided on how best to use it. I envisage though that I would show children this image (possibly by e-mailing it to them) and ask the class to pick out each of the key vocabulary words and translate them. This app is incredibly user friendly, and could also be used by the children to create their own Wordfoto images. Here is an example from a Literacy lesson I taught a while back:

This was used to describe a character after reading a chapter of Bill's new frock. I have included this simply to illustrate the ease and effectiveness of Wordfoto.

4. Morfo - recording Spanish conversations with children that do not want to be filmed.

Recording children speak fluently in a different language is popular among many schools. But what do you do with a child that is reluctant to be filmed? Or how about if they are not allowed to be filmed (for whatever reason)? This is where I would use Morfo. This app is very similar to Crazy talk - the programme for PC and Mac, that basically makes inanimate objects talk! There are also many other apps like it, but having tried a couple of different ones, my preference is definitely with Morfo.

Using Morfo unlocks endless possibilities in terms of what you can make talk. If you can take - or find - a picture of it, then you can add eyes, nose and mouth to it through the app! This can be used in various different ways - pictures of the key vocabulary could actually talk, telling the children what they are (imagine a picture of a hamburger saying 'Una hamburguesa'); Animals could talk about their family; celebrities could tell you about things they like and don't like (there is a running joke in my Spanish lessons when teaching sports, that Cristiano Ronaldo hates football and loves ballet and dance). The only restriction in Morfo is your imagination!

5. Aurasma - saving the best until last!

Aurasma is an absolute game changer. I downloaded Aurasma months ago, had a quick look at it and couldn't get my head around it - every time I tried to use it, an error message would appear. Then about 3 weeks ago, I decided to give it another try. After taking to twitter to find out how others use the App, I felt refreshed and ready to give it another go. After a couple of teething problems, I'd created my first Aura. When showing the children 2 days later in Spanish, I was overwhelmed by the universal "WOW" from the class. I can guarantee, we will be using the App much, much more in the future.

Once again, the use of the app centres around finding a more creative way to deliver key vocabulary. We have been learning how to talk about 'Mi Familia' this half term, and the children had already learnt the words for members of the family, how to say what their names were, and had now come to the part where they would say whether they liked or disliked these family members, and why. So I first needed to teach the children words to describe the family member's personalities - felix (happy) divertedo (funny) loco (crazy) etc. I created the sheet shown below, and then using the magic of Aurasma I transformed this page into a piece of Augmented Reality.

I intend to explain how Aurasma works in more detail in the next week or so, as I have a fantastic idea for how to use it which I will share once I have delivered the lesson. To see what happens, though, please watch the video yourself. Alternatively, download Aurasma (it's free!) on your iPad or smart phone, search and subscribe to the "Linaker Primary channel" and then hold your camera over the image above.

Pretty amazing isn't it! The best thing is, this only scratches the surface of what this fantastic piece of technology can do. The example here has used the blank worksheet as a trigger image, and a second image with the key words typed in as an overlay. Aurasma can also place videos as auras. So the trigger would again be a sheet or image, but when the device is held over the trigger, a video would be shown instead.

Here is my plan for next lesson - the children are now working on writing a paragraph in Spanish about their family. It is my hope that each child will record themselves speaking about their family (and those children that are reluctant to be filmed can use Morfo!) They will also take a picture of their family using their iPads, which they will e-mail to me to be printed off. The children will then set the picture of their family as a trigger, and the video of them talking about their family as the overlay. Call me a geek but I am very excited about this prospect! I hope to post some examples of the end product at some point before the Christmas break!

So there you have it... just a couple of ways I use various Apps in MFL (and other lessons) in a bid to be creative and engage the children. @dragonfly_edu (and anybody else for that matter!) I hope this is of some use!

Many thanks,



  1. Thanks for this- made me go back an investigate Aurasma again and am now seeing some very cool possibilities for my German classes! Will be interested to see how your experience is with it and others.

  2. Hi Nick, I'm writing a chapter on ICT use in MFL. I would love to include a case study and examples of what you are doing, of course acknowledging it is all you and your creativity. Could you let me know please how that family project went? my email -