Developing Oral Proficiency in Blended and Online Language Courses

Last Updated on 2019-10-11 Blended and online language courses are an increasingly common occurrence in colleges and high schools across the country. They allow students who, for many different reasons, cannot physically come to class three times a week to either start or continue learning a language; at the program level, pooling together students from[…]

Extempore Reviewed by The Edtech Roundup

Last Updated on 2019-09-23 What’s The Edtech Roundup? Extempore was just reviewed by The EdTech Roundup! If you’re unfamiliar, The Roundup is run by Mike Karlin, who has over a decade of classroom experience and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University’s Instructional Systems Technology program. The review gives an overview of what Extempore[…]

“Spoking” in the World Language Classroom with Infographics

Last Updated on 2019-09-10In today’s image-rich world, infographics have become an essential way to convey information and statistics without an overwhelming overdose of text.   This feature makes infographics an ideal instructional tool for teachers in the world language classroom. I often use infographics in the to elicit responses and reactions from students in the[…]

Extempore in your Computer Lab

Last Updated on 2019-09-04One of the great advantages of cloud-based products like Extempore is their portability and flexibility: unlike on a legacy language lab, your students are free to practice speaking in any setting, at any time. You are not tied to a room, or a specific type of hardware, or a booking system. This[…]

Conferring Made Simple: Assessing Reading Skills with Extempore

Last Updated on 2019-08-19Time. Time is a teacher’s most precious commodity. We literally never have enough of it and are always, ALWAYS asking for more. We need time to plan lessons, collaborate with staff, grade homework, and even observe students practice and utilize the skills and strategies we teach. As a previous elementary classroom teacher,[…]

A World Language Activity for Visual Learners

Last Updated on 2019-07-29See it Say it! Many learners we teach rely on visuals to help them interpret and process information. Today, I am going to share a resource for images and how I use them as a springboard for speaking activities in the world language classroom.    The site is supported by the University of[…]

New Integration: Schoology

Last Updated on 2019-07-26 If your institution uses Schoology, we’ve got great news! You can now integrate Extempore assessments into Schoology directly. What does that mean? This integration allows you to connect an Extempore Assessment to a Schoology Assignment and send grades from Extempore to your Schoology Gradebook. Additionally, your students are now able to complete[…]

Extempore at the University of Wisconsin’s Collaborative Language Program Workshop

Last Updated on 2019-07-22  The Collaborative Language Program In May, Extempore was invited to present at a workshop organized by the Collaborative Language Program at the University of Wisconsin System. The Collaborative Language Program (CLP) is a cutting edge way for UW System to staff and support language programs at schools that would otherwise not[…]

A Student-Led Discussion Activity for the World Language Classroom

Last Updated on 2019-07-17Triangle Talk/Triángulo de Tertulia This is not only a great speaking activity for world languages, but also a student-led activity.  The first time I did it this year, the students were scared, but they grew to love  it and it became almost a weekly occurrence in the classroom. By the end of[…]

New Enhancements to Extempore!

Last Updated on 2019-07-08The Extempore team has been busy over the summer. As we do every year, we use the break to push updates to the platform. Some of these updates are major new features (teaser: a BIG one is coming in late July!) but many others are small tweaks, performance and usability improvements that[…]

Keeping Students in the Target Language [Three Classroom Activities]

Last Updated on 2019-07-17Three Activities and Strategies to keep language students in the target language In this blog post I am going to share with you a couple of strategies and highly engaging activities that I use regularly in the classroom.  The Can of Blah Blah Blah  (La Lata de bla bla bla) This activity[…]

All-In-One Activity for the World Language Classroom: Yes.  No. Maybe?

Last Updated on 2019-07-16One Activity:  All-in-one and done? Could there be such a thing? Sometimes being a world language teacher is overwhelming.  We do it all…speaking, listening, writing and reading. These are all essential elements of an effective classroom making it all-in-one!   In addition to all of these moving parts, we want our students to connect[…]

New Integration: Blackbaud!

Last Updated on 2019-04-23  If your institution uses Blackbaud, we’ve got great news! You can now integrate Extempore assessments into Blackbaud directly. What does that mean? This integration allows you to connect an Extempore Assessment to a Blackbaud Assignment and send grades from Extempore to your Blackbaud Gradebook. Additionally, your students are now able to complete[…]

We’re in Class Tech Tips!

Last Updated on 2019-04-10“What does it look like to leverage technology to increase participation, efficiency, and engagement?” I think we know here at Extempore. Class Tech Tips just covered Extempore in their blog! They highlight how we are a helpful resource for language educators and the benefits we bring to students like: Creating speaking portfolios Save[…]

Extempore Featured in the Language Educator’s Tech Watch

Last Updated on 2019-02-14The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ publication The Language Educator is a magazine for ACTFL members. In its recent Tech Watch, Extempore was featured as a tool to increase “learners’ opportunities for meaningful target language use and exposure.” The Language Educator is a great resource for news and information for educators of all[…]

Customizable Rubric is Live [Extempore Update]

Last Updated on 2019-02-05Everyone has been asking for it and we’re happy to say it’s now live! Extempore users can now create a customizable rubric!  Each criterion can be weighted individually on a scale of 1 to 10. Create an assignment and try it out! Note: Students NEED to update their mobile apps to see[…]

New Extempore Content Available from Teacher’s Discovery

Last Updated on 2019-04-15 We are happy to announce that Extempore users can now access content at Teacher’s Discovery! The Oral Assessments for Extempore from Teacher’s Discover are great if you’re looking for something new for your language classroom. Currently there are 10 content groups available. However, they are designed for Spanish instruction with more[…]

Canvas integration is here!

Last Updated on 2019-04-23       If you teach a language and your institution uses Canvas, you can now integrate Extempore assessments into Canvas directly. Starting today, your school’s Canvas Admin can request a Consumer Key and Shared Secret to connect both platforms. This integration allows you to connect an Extempore Assessment to a[…]

Extempore Parent Guide: My Kid Is Using What?

Last Updated on 2019-07-16Extempore is a speaking practice app that provides an oral language assessment tool for teachers (and some added bonuses for parents & students as well). If your child has a teacher that has decided to use Extempore in class, first of all, it means they seriously care about their students’ speaking skills.[…]

Extempore and the Chinese Innovation Forum

Last Updated on 2018-12-12 Extempore is proud to support the 5th Chinese Innovation Forum, a two-day conference (Oct 25-26, 2019) hosted by the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. The Forum is a new initiative, spearheaded by a group of K-16 educators, whose objectives are to jumpstart the conversation on Chinese language and culture[…]

How Much Time Can you Save with Extempore?

Last Updated on 2018-12-07Every language teacher knows how difficult it is to get students to speak in class. It is even more difficult, and can be extremely time-consuming, when there is a need to evaluate each student’s speaking skills individually. Imagine you are a language teacher with 30 students and you need to provide an[…]

Extempore Customer Testimonials

Last Updated on 2018-11-20Extempore was just at ACTFL 2018 in New Orleans. While the team got plenty of Speaking Practice doing demos for three days straight, we thought some payback was also due, so we roped in a few customers and asked them to do a quick video for us. It’s only fair that the[…]

New Mobile Apps

Last Updated on 2018-11-20The new Extempore mobile apps are now available for download! Rebuilt from the ground up, the new apps are a huge improvement for students, as they are significantly faster and more user-friendly than the versions they replace. They also follow the same design as the Student Portal for more consistency across platforms.[…]

Extempore, The Speaking Practice App, Saves Teachers an Average of 15 Hours per Assessment.

Last Updated on 2018-11-07EdTech Language Platform Sees Usage Surge 400% Year over Year St. Paul, MN, October 31, 2018 — Extempore announces that year over year usage of its Speaking Practice platform has surged nearly 400%. In addition to this growth, teachers are seeing valuable time savings while conducting oral language assessments. The average Extempore[…]

Mobile Grading is here!

Last Updated on 2018-10-15In the very near future, Extempore will be updating our mobile apps with a brand new look and feel as well as new features. As part of these changes, the mobile apps will become student only and all the instructor work will be shifted to either you desktop of mobile browsers. Today, we[…]

Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety: The case of Spontaneous Speaking Activities

Last Updated on 2018-09-16Great article on Procedia about Speaking Anxiety. Abstract There is a great deal of research focusing on speaking anxiety and yet there are relatively few studies suggesting ways how teachers can help learners cope with this problem. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify whether the integration of spontaneous speech[…]

Extempore’s New Release – Redesigned Grading

Last Updated on 2018-08-25Extempore 4.7 will be made available to users starting Wednesday, August 29th. A full redesign of the grading screen is being made, consolidating all information in one place and requiring less clicking. Main changes include: New look and feel of the assessment grids and question grading screens. A new left panel in[…]

Priddy Learning Academy to Launch New Online Program

Last Updated on 2018-05-17Priddy Learning Academy is one of Extempore’s favorite partners. After a few months of development and successful pilots, they will be rolling out a ground-braking online program, aimed at the Asian markets. Needless to say, Extempore will be a key part of their English classes. We wish them much success and look[…]

FireFox tracking protection

Last Updated on 2018-04-23The newest version of FireFox has changed the default security setting from previous versions. In some cases, these settings will interfere with some Extempore functions. If you experience issues while using Extempore on FireFox, please add an exception to the “Tracking Protection” feature in FireFox so Extempore can function successfully. You can[…]

Creating Screencasts as question prompts

Last Updated on 2018-05-19As you know, in Extempore, you can use multiple types of prompts for your student’s speaking activities. Whether you use the app for oral assessments, or as replacement to a language lab, having a variety of prompts enriches your students’ experience, and allows you to assess different aspects of their oral production.[…]

Talk more to listen better

Last Updated on 2018-04-12New research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison shows that the students should spend more time talking. “If traditionally favored, comprehension-stressing teaching practices were better at teaching students comprehension of their new language, the group that practiced through listening would do best on listening comprehension tests. However, the researchers found the opposite. On[…]

Best of the Web – Speaking Practice Activities

Last Updated on 2018-08-28Today, we bring you the best speaking practice activities to be found in the web. Most can be done with Extempore! From Teachers Pay Teachers “Simple future speaking prompts for ESL“ From Teachers Pay Teachers “Spanish Places Partner Speaking Practice“ eBook by Christiene Lee – Speaking Practice for the Canadian English Language[…]

100 Years of “New Technologies”: Teaching a Foreign Language with Technology from 1918 to 2018

Last Updated on 2018-02-15One of Extempore’s founders has recently published an article in the popular Educational Technology blog EmergingEdTech. You can read it in full here, but today we want to highlight the main lesson from this analysis: that technology always moves on, that there is always resistance to its adoption, but that overall, the trend[…]

Extempore supports the Language Learning Summit

Last Updated on 2018-02-09Once again, Extempore is proud to support our friends at the Language Learning Summit on their endeavors to make language learning, online or face-to-face, better and more collaborative. Please read more about it below. We encourage you to register and attend as many sessions as you can! About

Blended Learning Pilots With Extempore

Last Updated on 2018-01-10Extempore is proud to participate in the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center’s Blended Learning Pilots program, whereby Flagship institutions can apply for a grant to use Extempore in their blended learning projects. Click on the image below to learn more about this fascinating program, and feel free to email Extempore for more[…]

Extempore’s New Release – Archiving Classes and Email Notifications

Last Updated on 2018-01-17Extempore 4.6 is now available with two highly sought-after features: Archiving Classes You can now archive old classes. Archiving a class will remove it from your Classes tab, unenroll all students and delete all attempts. The content of an archived class can be restored from the “Archived Classes” page, but students and[…]

Speaking Logs

Last Updated on 2017-12-19I was sitting in my office the other day with one of my students minoring in Spanish. She was concerned with her scores on our recent oral exam and frustrated at how her speaking skills seemed to lag behind her writing and reading. “That’s normal!” – I said, as a way to[…]

Oral language assessments – let’s do the math!

Last Updated on 2017-10-24Here’s something you probably haven’t thought about – how much time does it REALLY take you to perform oral exams with your students? Here is some simple math that we can use to explain why one of our most common tasks, oral assessments, are so frustrating. Let’s use this simple formula: (SS*Mns+SS*Log)*Cl=[…]

Scaffolding, conversing, linguistic analysis … and Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-10-15 As I’m planning a potentially-rich, definitely-logistically-challenging activity in my university-level Spanish classes, I’m realizing how much easier this could be with Extempore. Let me explain. I’m an assistant professor of Spanish language and linguistics at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. If you’re familiar with San Antonio, you know that[…]

Our mission aligns with ACTFL’s position on technology

Last Updated on 2017-10-03The Extempore team’s mission to support language educators in the facilitation of instruction and assessment of oral skills aligns with ACTFL’s position on the role of technology in language learning. When I introduce Extempore at conferences and workshops, people often ask whether we are a stand-alone language software like Duolingo or Rosetta[…]

Extempore Troubleshooting – Updating your Internet browser

Last Updated on 2017-09-27Extempore is built using the latest technologies, and it’s constantly updated to take advantage of new features and security other developers offer. For that reason, we strongly recommend that you only use Extempore on Chrome or Firefox, and that you set your browsers to update automatically. Please visit this page to learn[…]

Guest Post from TakeLessons.com – Ways to make money as a language lover

Last Updated on 2017-09-24Being multilingual is an amazing skill to have. It opens up many doors from travel to friends to job opportunities. Knowing another language is also becoming increasingly valuable in today’s job market, so if you speak a foreign language you’re ahead of the game! There are many jobs available including translation or[…]

Extempore finishes second in the MN Cup!

Last Updated on 2017-09-22The nation’s largest statewide entrepreneurial contest is heading into the final stretch as the thirteenth annual MN Cup competition today announces the eight 2017 division winners. Extempore is prod to have finished second in the High Tech Division, and as always we are thankful for the support of our schools now more than never![…]

Extempore colabora con la Conferencia De Profesores Online

Last Updated on 2017-09-14Extempore se enorgullece de colaborar con la Conferencia De Profesores Online, una iniciativa de Paulino Brener (fundador del Online Teacher Summit) que consiste en una conferencia completamente online y de inscripción gratuita que se llevará a cabo del 17 al 23 de septiembre. En la misma encontraréis información y herramientas para aquellos[…]

New Look and Feel for the Student Web Platform

Last Updated on 2017-09-12This week, Extempore will be making some look and feel updates to the Student Web Experience. The new version is easier to use and has a cleaner interface that matches the overall look and feel of Extempore’s brand. Additionally, some new features are included that will make navigation easier for students. We[…]

Extempore moves to the Finals of the Minnesota Cup

Last Updated on 2017-09-01The Minnesota Cup is the largest start-up competition in the United States. Sponsored by institutions such as 3M, Wells Fargo or the Bush Foundation, every year, the review board shifts through thousands of applications to select the start-ups with the most potential to succeed and make an impact. Extempore is proud to[…]

Back-to-School Activities for the World Languages Classroom

Last Updated on 2018-08-28Do you want to spice up a little your old “what did you do this summer?” activity for the first day of class? Or do you prefer to avoid it altogether? Here are some ideas that I am going to use in my classes. What happened in the world this summer? Headlines[…]

Learner Autonomy Can Lessen Language Anxiety

Last Updated on 2019-08-28We have advocated before for establishing a classroom environment that fosters learner autonomy as a more effective way to promote language learning. One reason why autonomous learning is good for language development is that it helps reduce the anxiety related to foreign language learning. What are autonomous learning and foreign language anxiety?[…]

What Motivated Extempore?

If you have attended a demo on how to use Extempore for speaking practice in your foreign language classroom, you have probably met one of the three co-founders who are teachers (and who currently keep teaching because they love it!). You may be wondering what led us to conceive of, design, and embark in the[…]

Language Labs – Expensive and Under-used

Recently, we run a quick (and highly unscientific, we admit…) Twitter survey. We were trying to confirm something that our customers tell us all the time: that computer labs are very rarely used. They are expensive, they take up space… yet they are so cumbersome to book, they require so much time and oversight to obtain[…]

It’s More Than Speaking Practice

Besides extra speaking practice for your students and a simpler way to assess spontaneous speech, recordings completed with Extempore provide data for teachers to inform various aspects of their teaching. Here are some ideas. Use recordings as data for formative assessment. Even if you use Extempore just for extra speaking practice and not for assessing[…]

Promoting Extempore Among Your Faculty

Instructional Technologists, Department Chairs, or Language Program Coordinators are often tasked with promoting innovative teaching solutions to more effectively meet the program’s learning objectives. However influential these administrative roles may be, their success in leading and implementing curricular innovation at the program level is contingent upon motivating individual faculty to support any initiatives. Here is[…]

How do you pronounce Extempore? It depends.

Last Updated on 2017-04-10When we launched Extempore, in the summer of 2016, we chose the name as a way to highlight that our app allows instructors to obtain spontaneous speech from their students. Extempore, after all, is Latin for “said without preparation”.  As you know, we were trying to solve the problem of students writing[…]

Growing oral proficiency: Five ways to help students move from intermediate to advanced level

Last Updated on 2019-06-10Making the Jump: Intermediate to Advanced Proficiency If you teach advanced courses, you experience this phenomenon: students who can write fairly complex texts, but who still speak (if they don’t avoid speaking tasks altogether) only in the present or past tenses, with very simple sentences, and offering very few details. This may[…]

Building conversation skills through listening?

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Yes, being a good listener is part of being a good conversational partner, even in your native language. When thinking of how to help our students to gradually build their conversation skills, we tend to focus on aspects of the classroom tasks that we design for this purpose. Those elements include the[…]

How communicatively adequate are my students?

Last Updated on 2019-08-05Communicative adequacy refers to a persons’ ability to successfully communicate in a real-life situation. Within the context of foreign language education, communicative adequacy is the primary goal of instruction: we want our students to express themselves, in speaking or writing, in a way that native speakers of the target language will understand.[…]

The role of vocabulary in building fluency: Making students aware

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Do you remember those days when you were a beginning language learner and you became easily frustrated during speaking activities? Remember the feeling of hopelessness when you got stuck searching for words to express your thoughts? You had something great to say, but you may have remained silent more than you should[…]

What’s For Dinner?: Paired Dialogue Task Ideas

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A few months ago, we posted about the benefits of student-centered paired speaking activities on Extempore. There are a ton of reasons to promote these sorts of activities in your classroom, but the most convincing one of all, I think, is that they give the teacher a snapshot of his/her students’ authentic spoken abilities at[…]

New Extempore Release (#50)

Last Updated on 2017-02-25We are happy to announce a major upgrade to the way students sign up to use Extempore. Starting today: Students will be able to sign into Extempore with one step: when they click on your class link, they will be taken to a sign-up screen. After filling out the form, a username[…]

Dear Abby, How Can I Practice the Imperative?

Last Updated on 2017-11-27First things first. Your students probably have never heard of the Dear Abby advice column. Maybe you haven’t either. But that’s OK; it still provides a good context for your students to practice using the imperative mood in the language that they’re studying and it can be accomplished very easily on Extempore. I’m actually[…]

10 Reasons to Learn Another Language

Last Updated on 2017-02-05Sure, you’ve probably heard someone say–and maybe you’ve even said it yourself–that everyone speaks English, so what’s the point in putting a ton of effort into learning a new language? We at Extempore certainly don’t subscribe to that notion. In fact, we think learning a new language is one of the most[…]

The Challenges of Assessing Cultural Competency in the World Languages

Last Updated on 2019-08-05We all know the importance of the 4 big skills in a world language class: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Encouraging the development of each one in our students brings with it a unique set of challenges, approaches, and assessment methods. (And, given our classroom time constraints, we probably also know how hard[…]

Extempore, Backwards Design, and Exit Outcomes for Students

Last Updated on 2017-01-07If you’re an educator these days, you’ve likely come across backwards design. As the name indicates, it’s a method of curricular design in which the instructor starts by establishing desired results for a particular chapter, unit, course, or sequence.  Then he or she works backwards to identify evidence of learning and put into place various instructional practices (i.e.[…]

The Year in Review

Last Updated on 2016-12-21As we close 2016, we’d like to share with you the highlights of these last 12 months, which have been momentous for our young company. First and foremost, we need to thank you, our users. From those who took a leap of faith and bought a product with no track record (Boston[…]

Using Extempore for PTE Speaking Practice

Last Updated on 2017-11-27We’ve shown numerous times on our blog that Extempore is the perfect educational tool for speaking practice, especially in the world language classroom. It’s useful for anything from interactive classroom activities to extra speaking practice at home. However, because of Extempore’s unique features, which I’ll talk about below, it can also be particularly handy for someone[…]

The Problems with World Language Presentations and How to Fix Them-Part 2

Last Updated on 2016-12-04Hopefully you read our post last time about the problems that many students encounter with giving presentations in a world language classroom. I wrote a little bit about how a “speed-dating” or “marketplace” format can actually put students at ease and promote a fun, more vibrant, and more engaged classroom atmosphere on[…]

The Problems with World Language Presentations and How to Fix Them–Part 1

Last Updated on 2016-11-27You’ve probably had to walk the plank before. Uh oh. Presentation time. You know, where it’s your turn to trudge up to the front of the class and start speaking in front of everyone. Maybe you’ve been assigned to talk about a national dish, or a traditional dance, or a famous artist. It’s bad[…]

Dear Diary: the Preterite and the Imperfect on Extempore

Last Updated on 2016-11-13If you teach Spanish (or French, for that matter), you know how mighty the battle can be for students to learn and use correctly the two verb forms used to talk about actions in the past. Yep, I’m taking about the preterite and the imperfect. Just mentioning those two words often sends[…]

Spice up the Classroom with a Cooking Competition on Extempore!

Last Updated on 2016-10-16These days you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a cooking show. Some of them are the competition type with the red-faced celebrity chef screaming at the contestants. Other cooking shows are more of the travel type where a host visits a particular restaurant to publicize the hard work of regular[…]

The Best of the Best: A Speaking Activity on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27When I was growing up, my hometown newspaper ran an informal column in which the readers themselves could write in highlighting a product or item that they used at home that had proved beneficial to their lives somehow and that everyone else should check out: powerful vacuum cleaners, super-duper TV remote controls,[…]

Speaking Self-Reflection: It’s Not Just For Writing Anymore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27If you’re a teacher, you probably already know that one of the big pushes in education in recent years has been to incorporate self-reflection into the classroom, both for students as well as for teachers themselves. On the student end of things, self-reflection has been shown to promote responsibility and total engagement in active learning, among other benefits.[…]

Do It All On One Screen with Extempore

If you’ve been exploring our website and reading our blog, hopefully you’ve noticed how useful, convenient, and efficient Extempore is for both students and teachers. There’s a reason for that–the founders of Extempore are full-time classroom teachers, so we’re always thinking of practical ways to make our app the best that it can be for everyone. We recognize from[…]

Let’s Go to the Mall Today: Paired Dialogue Task Ideas

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A few weeks ago, we posted about student-centered paired activities meant to develop speaking skills in the classroom. We mentioned how beneficial these role play or dialogue tasks can be: they foster autonomy, responsibility, creativity, peer-teaching, fun, and authentic language output. Today I wanted to give a quick example of one that I’ll certainly[…]

6 Tips for Improving Pronunciation with Extempore

Imperfect or non-native-like pronunciation can often be a huge roadblock towards effective communication in a world language classroom. Many learners are highly aware of their accent and feel embarrassed by it even if they are otherwise motivated students. This pronunciation anxiety frequently leads them to reject opportunities to communicate in meaningful ways.  It’s really a shame because very few[…]

20 Fun How-To Tasks to Get Your Students Talking

Last Updated on 2017-12-09Although students and teachers occupy the same space throughout much of the day, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the two groups often have different experiences at school or even in the classroom itself. During free periods, at lunch, or after school ends, students are carrying out tasks or[…]

Paired role plays with Extempore: Student-centered in-class practice

If you read our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot here about using Extempore for regular speaking practice at home as a way to reinforce skills learned in the classroom, to build fluency, and to develop confidence. Although those are undeniable benefits of our app, students and teachers can also use Extempore[…]