The Cloud is Calling: Language Labs vs Mobile Speaking Apps

In just the past few years, the cloud has changed the way we live and think. No longer do we carry flash drives or CDs; instead, we just upload whatever information we need to the cloud and access it later from any of our various electronic devices. With that in mind, why are you still considering using a language learning lab when you could instead be using cloud-based software to educate your students? Abandon archaic language lab technology and step into the future with cloud computing and mobile apps.

language labs vs mobile speaking apps

Save Space and Money

Traditional language labs are expensive. The average install for a language lab is $100,000, while the average yearly maintenance for all the equipment can be as high as $25,000. That’s a lot of cash to spend on a space that students might use for a few hours each week. What’s more, language labs take up a lot of space. You’ll need to devote an entire classroom to the computers and other equipment you’ll need, taking away valuable teaching areas.

With a cloud-based speaking app, however, you won’t need to reserve any space at all. All work is done on the go at the student’s leisure. They can practice on the bus to school, at home in bed, or even while out at the mall. The possibilities are endless.

Best of all, cloud-based learning apps are far less expensive than the cost of a full lab. For example, choosing Extempore means you’ll only need to pay $8.99 per student per year. If you have a class size of 30, that’s just under $270 compared to the exorbitant fees of a learning lab.

Instant Upgrades and Features

With a language lab, technology can get dated pretty quickly. Often, software companies release new versions of programs, meaning that if you want to stay on top of things, you’ll need to upgrade pretty regularly to have the latest features. In some cases, this might even mean hiring an IT person to manage the install and troubleshoot any issues.

Luckily, a cloud-based app doesn’t have this problem. Because everything is located in the cloud, it’s easy for companies to send out virtual updates. You won’t need a dedicated IT person, as updates will be pushed automatically to your app.

Students Can Work Anywhere and on Any Device

students can work anywherePerhaps the biggest limitation of a language learning lab is that it physically limits students. To do their assignments, they’ll need to make a special trip to the lab, which might not be feasible if they are busy or don’t have transportation. The computers in the lab are the only ones with the software they need, so if all the workspaces are taken, they’ll have to wait or come back at another time.

This is never a problem with cloud-based language software. Students can work anywhere they feel comfortable and at any time. If a student is a night owl and has the most motivation at 3 a.m., it is easy to log in and complete the assigned tasks. Even better, cloud-based software can be used on any compatible device. There’s no need for the student to go out and buy a computer, as they can use their tablet, iPad, or mobile phone to access the app.

Flexible Learning

When you put the investment into a language learning lab, you feel obligated to use it as much as possible. However, this might not always be the right method for your students. Some might not like the isolation of the learning lab or might not feel comfortable speaking into a headset.

Having a cloud-based language learning app lets you customize your lesson plans without worrying about utilizing the lab as much as possible. Because you pay a small one-time fee, you won’t feel bad if you don’t assign daily homework in the system. Instead, you can tailor the work to your students’ preferences.

It’s pretty clear that mobile speaking apps are the future of language learning. While language labs do still have value, their exorbitant price tag makes them out of reach for most ESL teachers. Find a reliable and beneficial alternative in the form of the cloud.