Austin Meusch

On a caffeine-fueled mission to make speaking assignments in world language classrooms as fast and easy as possible.

How to Support Students When and Where They Need it Most

Aug 26, 2022 | 0 comments

Can you recall your first few months learning your second language? Maybe it’s been so long ago you don’t have a clear memory, or maybe, it was such a challenging experience, you couldn’t forget it. In either case, if you’re teaching entry level students, you get to see new students experience this each year. Some students may become so frustrated they never fully engage with the language you’re teaching. While others, looking at you aspiring musicians, might shock you with how quickly they pick up the sounds and script of their L2.

Keep reading to learn how to fully leverage your teacher pro account to help every student become confident speaking their new language. Not a “Pro” user? After this post, check out our product page to see if pro is a good fit for you and your students.

When students are feeling frustrated, have them send you a recording of their pronunciation. 

The first month speaking a new language can be particularly challenging. With Speakable assignments, students will be pushed to speak their new language in a comprehensible way much faster than they would be without instant accountability.

While you can see how this will lead to much faster growth in speaking abilities. Challenging students in this way also means they will experience some frustration. Even though frustration and growth often go hand in hand, it’s still best to alleviate students’ frustration when possible. That’s why you have the feedback messenger. With this feature, help from you will always be just a few clicks away for students.

When students are unable to say a word or phrase correctly and simply cannot get it. They can open the feedback messenger, record their voice, add a note if they wish, and send it to you, their teacher, for feedback.


💡 Pro Tip: Set and communicate a minimum number of attempts a student should make prior to asking for help through the feedback messenger. A student’s first line of defense should be listening to the word or phrase and trying to mimic what they hear then, if necessary, using the settings ⚙️ to slow the text-to-speech down. 

Your students’ requests for feedback will appear on the feedback page in your teacher account. From this page, you’ll be able to listen to the recordings your students send to you, view the name of the assignment and card they were on when they sent the recording, and respond with feedback and support resources.


Using analytics to find growth opportunities

Data can be powerful and it can be overwhelming. For many teachers, having detailed analytics of students’ speaking performance is completely new. There are many ways to use this data but the best way to get started is to use the analytics to identify and address opportunities for improvement.

If we know a student’s native language and, of course, the new language they are learning, we will be aware of some areas of pronunciation they will naturally find challenging at first. The German umlaut Ö, Chinese “r”, and the Spanish rolled “r” come to mind for native English speakers.

However, analytics allow us to go deeper than these assumptions. The data allows you, as a teacher, to see which areas students need the most support with. No more guessing, just open up the grade book!

To make the biggest impact, start first by looking for words and phrases (within an assignment) that were difficult for the entire class as a whole. You may identify patterns with these difficult to pronounce cards. For instance, you may notice the various conjugations of “preferir” were in every difficult to pronounce phrase. Indicating this verb and its conjugations may be challenging for you class.

If a pattern like this is identified, you can address it at the start of your next lesson with the class as a whole.

At this juncture, you may be asking yourself, what if my assignment was just really hard for every student? If that’s the case, check out this post on creating appropriately difficult speaking assignments.

Related Article: How Difficult Should My Speaking Assignments Be?

For students that are finding pronunciation more challenging to learn than their peers, you’re able to drill down into their individual performance on an assignment and look for trends at the card level. If you uncover an area the student is struggling with, you’ll be able to proactively support the student by focusing on and providing support for that specific area of pronunciation.

In conclusion, students will naturally feel some frustration when learning to speak their new language. Encouraging them to ask for help when they need it and using analytics to identify key opportunities for improvement can help reduce the amount of frustration your students feel and speed up their learning process.

What do you think? Is this a good way to support students? How do you help students manage their frustration when learning to speak their L2 for the first time?


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