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[…]

Ditch the Language Lab: Go Anywhere (and Everywhere) with Extempore

Last Updated on 2016-07-22We live in a mobile world. We take our devices everywhere we go and do countless daily tasks on them. And increasingly, mobile technology is becoming part of daily life in education as well. So, why, when it comes to language learning, are so many of our lessons still so “non-mobile”? The language lab,[…]

Assigning Speaking Practice over the Summer with Extempore

Last Updated on 2018-12-12If there’s anything that teachers and students can agree on, it’s that summer vacation is…what’s the word? Amazing? Phenomenal? Ecstatic? But, as we all know, there’s a price to pay.  Our language students–at any level–get more than a little rusty. Those preterit and imperfect endings get mixed up, commands get forgotten altogether. All those[…]

6 Image-based Extempore Tasks to Get Your Students Talking

Last Updated on 2017-11-27We’ve all heard the cliché: a picture is worth a thousand words. But with Extempore, the expression might actually have some literal truth to it! That’s because our app allows teachers and students to use images to kickstart a discussion in the target language. Obviously, an audio prompt from a teacher most closely mimics[…]

Extempore to Present at 98th Annual AATSP Conference

Last Updated on 2016-07-02For all of you Spanish and Portuguese teachers out there, we wanted to let you know that we’ll be presenting Extempore at the upcoming 98th Annual AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese) Conference in Miami, Florida (July 8 – 11, 2016). Two of Extempore’s founders, Susana Pérez Castillejo, Ph.D.[…]

Extempore featured in EPC’s Show

Last Updated on 2016-07-01On June 29th, Extempore’s founders were interviewed by educational celebrity Paulino Brener for his Educators Performers Creators Show (EPCSHOW). The interview was broadcasted live through Google Hangouts and Facebook. During the show, Extempore’s cofounders Susana Perez and Carlos Seoane demoed the Extempore platform and answered questions from the host and the audience. As[…]

What Makes a Day a Good Day? The Present Perfect in Spoken Practice

We have written extensively about why assessing students’ oral skills regularly makes sense (see for example our posts from Jan 3, 2016 or May 24, 2016). Let me share now one way in which I have used Extempore in the classroom to formatively assess my students’ speaking skills with a particular learning goal in mind:[…]

Three Activities to Use Extempore as a Conversation Builder

Last Updated on 2018-08-28The last week of classes one of my students said that he was going to tell his AP Spanish teacher from high school about Extempore. I asked why and he explained that she had students record themselves talking about different topics in preparation for the AP Exam. He said that submitting recordings[…]

Breaking Down the Affective Filter and Building Confidence with Extempore

Last Updated on 2019-10-08I see it every year (and sometimes, sadly, every day). The stammering, the shaking hands, the downcast eyes, the fear. For some students, the world language classroom is a place of total anxiety and dread–a place that, if possible, they’d flee from as fast as possible. And no amount of kind, encouraging[…]

Conversation Starters in Spanish from TakeLessons.com

Last Updated on 2019-03-28Are you a beginning learner of Spanish? Do you just need some help getting started with a conversational partner? Or are you a teacher of beginning Spanish trying to get your students to use the language? Well, we wanted to take a moment to post a quick, handy guide to starting your conversation in[…]

Study Abroad Spoken Journals on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A while back, I was rummaging through some personal belongings, and I stumbled across my old study abroad journal that I kept while studying in Madrid. Unsurprisingly, my reactions to its 15-year-old contents ranged from utter horror to belly laughs to nostalgia. The rediscovery of my journal got me thinking. Since my semester[…]

Extempore on Google Chromebooks

Perhaps you’re already using a Google Chromebook. There’s a lot to like about Chromebooks: they’re easy to use, cheap, and very secure. People are catching on to this, too, as they outpaced Macs in sales this year in the U.S. And if you’re a fan of Chromebooks, or if you’re interested in trying one, there’s good news.[…]

New Release

Last Updated on 2016-06-01We are happy to announce Extempore’s new major release, which includes some highly requested new features: You can now provide audio feedback: from the “grading” tab instructors can add not only a numeric score and written comments, but also record audio comments as part of the grade (available now in Android, next[…]

Using the Subjunctive to “Solve” Environmental Problems

Several of our blog posts have been bigger picture recommendations for how Extempore can help you more effectively and efficiently assess student learning. Well, this time, let’s try looking at how a classroom activity with a specific learning goal in mind can help improve speaking (and listening) skills. In the second semester of my high school Spanish 2[…]

Feedback for Oral Assessments in the World Languages Classroom

Why are you giving feedback on EVERYTHING? Many of us, especially new teachers, tend to hold the unfounded belief that effective teaching means extensive feedback. Yes, feedback is powerful and beneficial for learning, but not all types of feedback are created equal. In fact, research shows that some forms of feedback have no effect or[…]

Five Tips to Reduce Speaking Anxiety in the World Languages Classroom

Last Updated on 2017-11-27I’ve written before about how speaking anxiety is a common phenomenon in any setting where people engage in public speaking activities, but especially in the foreign language classroom because students feel self-conscious about making errors or not making sense at all. In my previous post I wrote about what we as instructors[…]

Eight Ways to Differentiate your Speaking Activities

Last Updated on 2018-08-28There’s been a lot of talk these days in educational circles about differentiating instruction. In some ways, we world language teachers have been ahead of the curve here, partly because it’s inherent in our classrooms to some degree. In other words, we teach different skills–listening, speaking, reading, and writing–in an assortment of ways, so providing[…]

Grading Oral Assignments in a Large Class (or Why we rely on written work to assess learning in large groups?)

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Why don’t we assess speaking as frequently as we assess writing, or written grammar, or written vocabulary? Because recording students frequently is cumbersome and having all students present in class several times in a semester is not practical, even more so in large groups of 30 or more. Yet most of us[…]

Can-Do Statements to Develop Oral Proficiency

There is much talk lately about NCSSFL-ACTFL’s Can-Do Statements and their role in measuring language proficiency.  For those of you not yet familiar with them, the Can-Do’s are checklists of “I can” statements that describe what an individual should be able to do with the language at each proficiency level (Novice, Intermediate Low, etc.).  The[…]

Using Extempore for Project-Based Learning

Last Updated on 2017-11-27If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we often emphasize Extempore’s unique ability to elicit spontaneous speech and provide one-to-one, student-to-teacher interaction. In this post, though, I want to highlight how Extempore can also facilitate meaningful peer-to-peer interaction, especially in classroom environments, such as those implementing project-based learning, where these interactions serve as key[…]

Building a Thematic Sequence of Speaking and Listening Practice on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Recently, my Spanish 2 students and I were exploring a unit based around city life. In it, we learned the names for various places in a city (restaurants, museums, parks, different types of shops, etc.),  practiced asking for and giving directions, and discussed topics such as the cost of living and the benefits and drawbacks[…]

Deeloh Technologies and SkillFitness Announce Partnership

Last Updated on 2016-04-06Minneapolis, MN (April 6, 2016) Deeloh Technologies and SkillFitness today announced the formation of a partnership to introduce the Extempore App, a product that promises to fundamentally change the way students practice and learn foreign languages using their smartphones and tablets. With seventeen million students enrolled in foreign language classes at the[…]

Extempore Boosts Confidence to Speak

Last Updated on 2017-12-08MALL (Mobile-Assisted Language Learning) is effective A recent review of studies testing the effectiveness of mobile devices to promote language development (Sung, Chang & Yang, 2015) shows that this type of technology integration does in fact improve learning with an effect size of .55. A crucial piece in foreign language education is[…]

Extempore: Helping the Over-scheduled Teacher

Perhaps you read our recent post about Extempore being a great example of teaching technology that can help simplify the lives of some of our more over-scheduled students. With Extempore, learners can submit assignments online whenever and wherever their schedule permits, which in turn can reduce anxiety and foster student autonomy. But, of course, any good educational[…]

Extempore: Helping the Over-scheduled Student

We at Extempore have taught at several different institutions: middle schools, high schools, private colleges, large state universities, and community colleges. Because of this, we’ve seen nearly every type of student under the sun (and there are many!), but what’s common to all of these learning environments is the sense that many of our students are[…]

Using Extempore as a Window into Culture

Hopefully, if you’ve explored our site or if you’ve read our previous blog posts, you can see pretty clearly how Extempore helps your students hone their skills in and out of the world language classroom. But learning a new language isn’t just about memorizing conjugations and new vocabulary–it’s also about developing target language cultural competency. That’s part of[…]

Extempore reviewed at AppEdReview

Last Updated on 2016-03-08Extempore has been reviewed by the website AppEdReview, the leading source of information about mobile learning tools. AppEdReview ranked Extempore very high in terms of design and efficiency, and offered a number classroom applications. You can read the full review here.    

Five Topics Students Like to Talk about in the Foreign Language Classroom

Last Updated on 2018-02-14If there’s something we all like to talk about, it’s ourselves. Topics related to one’s own life experience are almost certainly guaranteed to spark conversation among students of all ages. Now, not all life experiences are equally suitable as conversation topics. The best are the ones for which everybody has something to[…]

Five Tips to Reduce your Grading Load When Assigning Oral Homework

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Most of us teaching languages in the US are lucky to work in environments that are technologically suitable for assigning oral homework. In 2016, it is hard to find a foreign language instructor who does not teach in a smart classroom with Wi-Fi access. Many schools distribute mobile devices to their students at[…]

Extempore and Coach

Last Updated on 2016-02-26In this blog, we have written about the many ways in which Extempore can help foreign language teaching. We have also discussed online teaching, and general tips and tricks to increase speaking in the classroom, and out of it. We have not yet covered an increasingly popular use of Extempore, though –[…]

Tips to Assign Oral Homework in the Foreign Language Class

Last Updated on 2017-11-27In a previous post on adding speaking opportunities outside the classroom we explained the reasons why assigning oral homework in the foreign language classroom simply makes sense. As self-evident a need as it may seem, however, completing oral assignments regularly outside of the classroom is not something that students may be used[…]

High School January Pilot – Survey Results

Last Updated on 2016-02-15During the month of January, Extempore ran a pilot with 100 High School students at Western Christian High School, in Iowa, United States . The pilot took place during finals on three Spanish sections. Each final exam consisted of 10 graded questions with all Extempore Parameters enabled: time to review the prompt[…]

Being a Good Listener with Extempore — Part 2

Last Updated on 2018-12-12In our last post, we talked a bit about assessing listening comprehension through Extempore, specifically for beginner or intermediate language learners. Let’s talk now about our more advanced language learners and how we can assess their progress with listening comprehension. Naturally, what we recommended last time for beginning students works equally well[…]

Being a Good Listener with Extempore — Part 1

Last Updated on 2018-12-12It’s true: when we launched Extempore, the primary goal was to develop an app that would facilitate speaking in the classroom. As any teacher knows, generating authentic (and assessable) speech in the world language classroom can be a difficult thing to do, for a number of reasons (large class sizes, recording equipment,[…]

Benefits of a Flipped Language Classroom

Last Updated on 2019-03-05The Huge Potential of a Flipped Language Classroom Perhaps you’ve seen our list of activity ideas for the Extempore app. One of them brings up the idea of a “flipped” (or inverted) language classroom. Flipping the classroom isn’t really an activity; it’s more of an approach towards presenting–and ultimately putting into practice–the course content. What[…]

Promoting Student Responsibility and Risk-Taking with Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-12-08All world language teachers have surely encountered the student who is content to sit back in class and allow others to speak up first. Maybe he’s naturally soft-spoken or maybe he’s anxious about making a mistake. Whatever the reason, some students take a back seat in class and, in turn, deprive themselves[…]

Speaking Portfolios in the World Languages Classroom

Last Updated on 2019-03-26What Are Speaking Portfolios? If you have landed on this website, it is probably because you have used electronic written portfolios in your classroom and are intrigued by the concept of a speaking portfolio.  Same as in the written version, a speaking portfolio is a collection of a student’s work samples that present concrete evidence of[…]

Authentic Assessment in the World Languages Classroom with Extempore

Last Updated on 2019-02-26On a previous post we stressed the importance of using authentic tasks in the World Languages classroom and we gave some examples of authentic speaking tasks that could be assigned via Extempore. If we decide to use authentic tasks for instruction, then we should also use authentic assessments and evaluate our students with instruments that[…]

Authentic Speaking Tasks for the World Languages Classroom with Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Authentic tasks in the World Languages classroom are those that resemble a real-life situation, that is, a communicative experience that students could have outside of school. Because of this “real world” condition, authentic tasks in the WL classroom have a purpose that goes beyond language use; in other words, learners aren’t just[…]

How to Get your Shy Students to Talk? Change the Context.

Last Updated on 2017-11-28Any teacher would love to have just the right activity or the perfect strategy to get every single student in the classroom to actively participate in class discussions. Foreign language teachers especially are always searching for the magic trick that will make their students talk non-stop. It’s often the case that regardless of[…]

Assessing Speaking Skills: Extempore Solves Much More than Scheduling Issues

Last Updated on 2017-11-21In our blog from Nov 29th, we told you about Extempore’s origins: our founders’ desire to avoid the hassle of having to schedule 1:1 interviews with each of their students to assess spontaneous speech… and consequently having to find something else for the students to do while not taking part in the interview.[…]