Amazing Idea for Language Labs

Today Ross came to me with a tech question and we came up with a wonderful idea to use an app in a new way for education.  He was wondering if there were any cool iPad apps that simulate an old school language lab.   Not knowing exactly what a language lab was, I asked for some clarification.

Langenstein, Russischunterricht für Lehrlinge


When he was in school learning a foreign language, his teacher had a system where students would record themselves with headphones on.  While the students all recorded and listened to themselves, the teacher could monitor and respond to their recordings by plugging into their feed.  It was usually done with cassettes back in the day.  How could we recreate this useful language tool with iPads or mobile devices.

As Ross and I started to think of solutions, the What’s App app came to mind.  My family uses What’s App to send texts, pictures, videos and even sound clips.  Students could use this to record their voice, and Ross could reply to them using a voice recording or a text.  As I was digging deeper into this idea, I realized that What’s App is only available on smartphones, not iPads or iPods.  This solution wouldn’t work.  Ross wanted to use the iPads or iPods.

Priya was in the office and overheard the whole conversation Ross and I were having.  She turned around and said “Why don’t you use the Wiber App,” in her very pretty Indian accent.  The “Viber” app is just like What’s App  but it even has more functionality, it’s free and it works on the iPad and iPod. I checked out their website and they even have a desktop version.   This would work perfectly.  Thank-you Priya and Ross for this amazing idea.

Now we just need to try it out with students.  I can’t wait to share this with all our EAL and Foreign Language teachers.  This could also be used for group discussions on any topic or for students to ask questions on homework.  The possibilities are endless.

Trying out the Viber App on the iPad was very disappointing;  it doesn’t have all the cool features that the phone version .  Students would need to have a phone number to set it up.  I think most of our middle schoolers have phones but maybe this would not be a good fit for everyone.

I started looking at other apps that might work for Ross’s idea.  And AudioBoo I think would be a good pick; however, Ross would be unable to leave a voice comment.  I think we should see how many of his students have smartphones.  Maybe a work around would be for students that don’t have a phone to just email him a recording made in quicktime on their laptop.