E-books bring language and technology together

Kyle Roerink

Textbook Web site helps students learn Spanish by practicing

During the summer, Luis Hermosilla, associate professor of Spanish, wanted to use his class as an example of teaching a language with the aid of technology.

Hermosilla and the rest of the Spanish department decided to implement a different way of teaching by using e-books.

Houghton Mifflin’s e-book, “¡Claro que sí!” allows students to access their text online, use voice recorders, keep an online journal and check their grades.

Margaret Haas and Theresa Minick, both lecturers in modern and classical languages, organized the first three levels of Spanish taught at Kent State and are coordinating the program together.

“We wanted to provide students with an online vehicle that would meet most of their language-learning needs and would be accessible when and where they wanted to use it,” Minick said. “In addition, the current technologies available through the online interface enables students to communicate via voice or text in order to develop proficiency in the language.”

Any time students have access to a computer, they can use a microphone (built-in or plug-in), allowing them to record their own voice so they can hear how they sound speaking Spanish. Students use the microphone for homework assignments and when they turn them in, the instructor gives them feedback. Another advantage of the recording process is that it replaces the one-on-one listening exams, Hermosilla said.

Listening to the pronunciation of words, completing grammar exercises, watching culturally related videos, writing in a journal and taking online tests are a few ways to help students comprehend the language in a new and exciting way, Hermosilla said.

The online journal consists of students writing an assignment online and having the opportunity to rewrite it until they feel comfortable turning it in, Hermosilla said.

One section in the program, named “quia,” lets instructors choose what exercises they want their students to do, replacing typical workbook exercises.

“With this, students have the immediate feedback and the grade. They also have an unlimited amount of times to get above a 60 percent, but they all want to get A’s,” Hermosilla said.

The e-book replaces the flawed process of turning in and grading homework because doing it online gives the student “immediate feedback for their efforts,” said associate Spanish professor Patrick Gallagher.

“There is not as much direction with real books as opposed to e-books,” said Bryan Dodd, a sophomore computer science major who took Hermosilla’s class during the summer.

“They are amazing. Any bugs that were in the system, Dr. H. fixed them. (E-books) brought the two worlds of language and technology together,” said Dodd.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Kyle Roerink at [email protected].