Monday, April 23, 2012

The K12 global language education conference season has been a whirlwind so far: WNYFLEC, CSCTFL, TESOL, NCLC, and NECTFL are the key events we were able to participate in.

We loved getting out of the classroom and out of the product development lab, talking with hundreds of educators from different geographical regions, different kinds of schools and across multiple different global languages including English (ESL and EFL).

Every member of our QTalk leadership team was able to attend at least one of the conferences. We came back and put our heads together and said, "Okay, we are doing the right things and we just need to keep doing them better and faster, to put the right tools into the teachers' and students' hands."

Thank you to all who talked with us, and if you completed a registration form or left your card with us, please know we will be following up in the next day or so, if we have not already emailed and/or called.

Pictures speak so much louder than words. 

We are fascinated by the news stories about teenage polyglots such as Tim Doner at Dalton School.
One of the commenters to the recent New York Times story about Tim surmises that "polyglot brains are different" in some way.

We could not disagree more, except to say that just as athletic experience makes one a better athlete, there's no doubt that exposure to more language-learning opportunities can make one a better language-learner.

To awaken the inner language learner within, it's essential to bypass the "translation impulse" and instead begin thinking and speaking right away in the target language. That's what all the QTalk books and teaching tools enable - and that's why our Student Books look like comic books, with very few words and lots of pictures!

While we know that technology and online learning tools can assist, we think they are best as practice tools; to really activate your skills, you need to be speaking with others, ideally without any use of English or your first language. Self-study has its role, but we believe you can only reach a certain level through self-study. Because language is interpersonal, it's really important to learn language through interaction with real, live people.

Polyglots and would-be polyglots --  one and all: if you want to try the QTalk Online Games, post a comment to this blog or visit our website to post an inquiry with your contact information and a link to your blog or website. Let us know why you want to learn French, Spanish, Chinese, or English, and we'll set you up with a FREE 90-day subscription to QTalk Online Games for your target language. Please make sure to refer to this blog post and the "Polyglot offer" in your comment or inquiry.

(Games in Japanese, Korean, Italian, German, Arabic, and Hindi are on the development list, so if you'd like one of those languages let us know -- you'll need to wait for a while, but when those games are ready, we'll contact you and ask you to help us out by testing the games and letting us know what you think.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In his New York Times opinion piece earlier this year, What You (Really) Need to Know, Larry Summers suggests that foreign language acquisition is not essential for U.S. students, because English is becoming the lingua franca for business and the Internet, and idea that seems to be growing in popularity.

Is this a trend? Are business and government leaders really comfortable with the position that our 21st century educated American workforce has little requirement for knowledge of languages other than English?

We hear a lot from educators and researchers about language learning's cognitive benefits. Dan Fost wrote a nice summary a couple of years ago, How Global Language Learning Gives Students The Edge.

Anecdotally, we are hearing from students in computer programming and web design classes, that their world language learning experiences have given them a cognitive head start doing the complex cognitive work of learning and using a programming language. Similar comments are heard from musicians, especially working in jazz or other improvisational genres.

Yesterday a teacher described some students of hers, who had been learning in a QTalk classroom the prior year. Compared to other students, the QTalk students were "more confident speaking, and more eager to learn," and "they seemed to consider language learning as a fun activity." For schools struggling to improve test scores and reduce high school dropout rates, shouldn't there be a high value placed on classes that build a student's self-confidence and sense of achievement? Can we place a return on investment percentage on the fact that world language classes can be fun and keep students engaged, even those students who may struggle to succeed in other subjects?

Facebook promotion: Describe your favorite language-learning activity - post it to our QTalk Facebook page. We'll select one entry each month to receive a FREE 1-year subscription to our Online Games.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

While it's true that a child's mind is able to build many more new neural connections more quickly, it is NEVER too late to acquire a new language, and reap the benefits described in this opinion piece from the New York Times

At Tribeca Language we have helped students in their sixties and seventies speak for the first time in a language other than English - to their own delight and amazement!

What do you think it will take, to persuade the school committees and budget-balancers, that world language education needs to be part of the core elementary school curriculum, not just in magnet schools, charter schools and private schools but in EVERY elementary school?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Education Specialist Catherine Waldron enjoyed the opportunity to meet face-to-face with some of you at the Western New York Foreign Language Educator's Conference annual meeting on Saturday, March 3 at West Middle School in West Seneca, New York, just outside of Buffalo.

The QTalk Publishing team would like to thank JoAnn, Eileen, Kim, Mark, Amanda and everyone else who helped to put together Saturday's wonderful event.

QTalk Education Specialist Catherine Waldron represented us this time. She had so much fun, she hopes to be able to do more of these conferences in the coming weeks. Usually Catherine's is the voice you hear when you call our toll-free number and have a product question or need a proposal, free product samplers, or get some vendor paperwork completed in order to process a purchase.

Catherine would like to shout out special thanks to three wonderful teens -- Patrick, Gordon and Krysta -- for their help during exhibitor setup and breakdown. Thank you to all the vendors and participants who attended, including the many teachers, student teachers, and college faculty who stopped by to visit and learn about our QTalk method and products, "Visual "cues" to talk" enabling rapid oral production with engaging, fun classroom activities.

One more note about this event: the winds were gusting up to seventy miles per hour throughout the day, adding to the sense of excitement and adventure!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading the New Media Consortium's 2010 Horizon Report, especially the chapter on game-based learning and how it is being applied in K12 schools.

You can actually read this report onine:

Educators today are in a situation where the "skill-building, turn-based games" are being used more and more to help children learn and have fun at the same time. The Horizon Report presents very clearly the reason such games are so successful: "Their engaging nature makes them excellent learning aids, as kids will often willingly play them much longer than they would otherwise study the material in question."

Maybe it's more than just "the engaging nature" of games - maybe it's really a joy of learning through doing, that thrills the students, similar to the action philosophy of martial arts training. You learn to kick by kicking, not by watching someone else kick or having someone explain to you how to kick.

Our QTalk developers are having so much fun developing our latest online games, moving away from Adobe Flash to a more standards-based approach, and also adding a teacher dashboard that will be available to those schools with the new "Universal License" subscription (something like a site licence). As the schools begin to implement iPad-based curriculum, we see the eBook products will have an especially powerful way to integrate with online learning games as well as online assessments (which are really just games, where getting the highest score is the objective of game play).

Teachers have told us they are absolutely amazed at what we are doing with our Online Games as well as our classroom games with Smartboard or magnetic flashcard delivery models. This month we have a special Valentine to present to all our teachers: it is our February 2012 "two for one" language games promotion.

Of course in the future the students will continue to expect more collaboration and sophistication in their learning games, as well as the ability to access their games as apps on their mobile phones, tablets, and who knows what electronic superstars are waiting in the wings to take our game-playing experiences to the next level?

We'd love to know: How are you using games in your teaching? Do you spend time to create your own games, or do you prefer to evaluate and purchase games that are "ready to go"? How is the availability of classroom technology affecting the way you use Online Games or multimedia digital games, for your specific teaching situation each year?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quite an interesting week. Time to schedule a webinar to show off this fantastic Teacher Dashboard for all the teachers using our Online Games. We're also delighted that some very well-known people are getting interested in what we are doing. More about that in a few weeks.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year! Lots of GREAT stuff happening....

Well, NOW we think we have the new website looking great. You will be amazed at how easily you can find every one of over 200 products in five different categories and now seven different languages! What started small is growing bigger every day -- and we are excited! We decided to extend the "Solve the Mystery!" promo through January so if you've been planning to try out our Digital Language System (DLS) you have a limited time to get "two for one" conversation supplements - WOW -- check it out! This week there are more news stories about technology in the classroom; the teachers in Idaho are pushing back, because technology purchases are increasing, even as teaching jobs are being eliminated. What do you think? What do you find to be the proper role of education technology in your classroom?