Gloria Enrique: Optimising Windows for Modern Foreign Language Education

18 May 2018

Optimising Windows for Modern Foreign Language Education

Gloria Enrique from Sacred Heart Tullamore is pioneering in her use of Windows in the classroom. She was one of two teachers in Ireland selected to go to Microsoft's prestigious E2 Education Exchange in Singapore. We asked her questions on her experience of using Windows technology in her classroom for Modern Foreign Language education.  


What subjects do you teach?

Spanish, Business Studies, CSPE, SPHE and ICT. 


How did you integrate Windows into teaching within your classroom?

Teachers at my school use Microsoft Surface to support teaching and learning in the classroom. First and second year students use Windows 10 devices. This has opened a world of new possibilities, allowing for lessons that engage students, bring curriculum content to life and support students to develop skills that will help them prepare for their future. With the Surface, we can display content wirelessly to the projector from anywhere in the classroom. This has helped to make the lessons more dynamic. You can check to see if all your students are understanding the content or if you need to repeat or clarify something. Digital inking in the Surface is fantastic because I don’t need to keep moving to the front of the room to write on the whiteboard. Sometimes I like to sit down with the students to see from their perspective how the lesson looks, and if I need to modify something for the next time. Being wireless allows me to do that without any issue.

What was the biggest learning curve when introducing technology into the classroom?

There are a lot of great educational applications available and it can become a bit overwhelming. For this reason, I think that it is very important to evaluate how a particular technology can support you and your students before using it in the classroom. Training and collaboration between educators plays a very important role in this. Introducing something new into the classroom is a journey. It takes time to get to know the basics of a particular technology or app and to learn the possible applications for your classroom. It is important to start small and try something different. You can gain insight into how other teachers use technology in their classrooms by observation and discussion and get to know what worked well or didn’t and then adapt it to suit your particular teaching style.


What are the biggest challenges with teaching a language? Does technology impact student engagement?

I think that when you learn a language it is also very important to get to know the culture and traditions? of the various places where that language is spoken. This could be difficult if you are not travelling to those places. For this reason, I find Skype to be a fantastic application, not only for the language classroom but for all subjects across the curriculum. This year we are participating in a global educational project with students from Grupo Sorolla in Valencia and my 1st Year students connected with them via Skype. They talked about their countries, their projects and they finished talking about their favourite songs! That was a unique learning experience. 


What is the biggest advantage of using technology to teach languages?

Learning vocabulary and the different Verbs Tenses and Grammar rules can be challenging and educational apps like Kahoot, Quizlet or Memrise can help students to review concepts whilst having fun. Learning Tools in OneNote is a great app for helping students to improve pronunciation and practice oral communication independently. Due to time restrictions, it is very difficult to listen to all your students communicate in the target language. Recording their conversations in OneNote using Audio or Video gives me the opportunity to listen to all my students using the target language, even the shy ones, and provide feedback.  


What is your favourite App to use and why?

I love OneNote. I use it everyday for teaching my classes, planning my lessons, keeping my resources organised, creating seating plans, scheduling and preparing meetings, … The possibility of embedding all type of resources (audio, videos, YouTube videos, documents, PowerPoints, PDFs, Sways, Forms, …) and the option of using text or digital inking is what it makes OneNote my go-to app. It also provides a wonderful platform for students to display their work as a digital portfolio. The new features of Immersive Reader for Word Online and OneNote are a real game changer.


In your opinion, why is it so important that students learn a language?

The world we live in is becoming more and more interconnected. Our society is becoming more diverse every day. I tell my students that we are all unique and that we have to celebrate our differences. Language plays an important part in celebrating this. It is through language that we communicate and express our opinions and thoughts. 


In five years’ time, what will teaching be like in schools?

A far greater emphasis will be placed on student centred, self-directed learning. Collaboration and project-based learning with key cross-curricular linkages will be evident. Game based learning, virtual reality and augmented reality will bring curriculum to life in a way that was not possible previously.

Follow Gloria on Twitter: @MissGEnrique



Read more: Our top three Modern Foreign Language apps


Read more: 3 qualities of an Educational Digital Leader

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