Have you learned a new ICT skill and want to apply it in language teaching? Have you been given a software budget and don't know where to start? Now a new website, languages-ict, is available to help languages teachers use ICT effectively in their subject. It has been developed by CILT, the National Centre for Languages, together with ALL (Association for Language Learning), and is funded by the DfES.
Much of the work of sourcing useful ideas has been done for the busy teacher. There is a wealth of ideas, for example, in the "Useful ICT ideas and effective language lessons" section, where lesson ideas from across the web have been sorted and annotated into a searchable database.
Language teachers also have a chance to add their own ideas, through the "Webwatch" section, which shows how to exploit a website in a language lesson, with worksheets often included. This part is updated regularly and teachers can send ideas for possible inclusion.
The "Technology for languages" section provides a checklist of terms such as "authoring software" and "digital audio" and explains how this technology can be used by the languages teacher. The "Focus on PowerPoint" sheet can be printed and provides ideas for using presentation software in the classroom, for example for storytelling, games and practising oral exams.
The "ICT news update" is a welcome section where readers can be briefed on ICT issues which they may not be aware of. For example, the new Hands on Support government strategy, which aims to embed ICT into teaching, is explained, with an appropriate link, as is Curriculum Online and interactive whiteboard funding. Training events relevant to ICT and languages are also listed.
For heads of department or the ICT co-ordinator in a languages department, the "Managing ICT for Languages" area is superb. It includes a section on "Making the case for ICT" and gives links to, for example, the relevant part of the curriculum as well as to a recent Becta publication about using ICT in languages.
There is also a section on selecting resources, which looks at both software and hardware. The software section covers e-learning credits and points readers towards the TEEM (Teachers evaluating electronic media) site where teachers can read reviews of software by other teachers.
The hardware section points readers towards relevant information about, for example, interactive whiteboards and video conferencing facilities. There are also sections on "Embedding ICT into the languages curriculum", ICT training and primary ICT.
What makes this site truly interactive is the "Got a Question" section.
There is a link to the Becta "ask a question" service, which has recently started for modern languages.
Readers submit their question through a web-based form and it will be answered directly by a panel of experts and teachers appointed by CILT and ALL within a couple of days. There is also a languages ICT email forum.
Claire Dugard of CILT says: "This site has been conceived as a framework for expansion and development over the coming years and its pattern of growth will help us to identify gaps in practice and act as a focus to encourage and disseminate good practice in the teaching community."
The site is attractive and easy to navigate. Much of its value is as a kind of one-stop information point. Most sections are active, and network managers and ICT international sections will be available this spring.
This site is a developing portal through which a number of projects to develop more subject-specific support for ICT will be disseminated, so it's a good idea to check it regularly.
Wendy Adeniji is a trainer and consultant in ICT and MFL
* What the research says about Using ICT in languages www.becta.org.ukpage_documentsresearchwtrs_mfl.pdf