Using Extempore in a Spanish Online Community College class

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Sarah Beeman Hassouni is a Spanish Instructor at Saint Paul College, in Saint Paul, MN. Sarah has been one of the first teachers to use Extempore during online teaching and the first to use it in a Community College setting.

According to Sarah, her objective when she started using Extempore was to increase speaking with her students in order to complement her D2L exercises and to reinforce her textbook content.

Because spontaneous speaking is important to gauge proficiency, most of Sarah’s assessments limit the time that students have to read the questions. She requests both audio and video responses and assigns oral homework every week, following the chapters in the book.

One of the complexities of using a mobile tool in a Community College, and particularly while teaching online, is the requirement that students have a reasonably new mobile device, as well as the difficulty of troubleshooting problems remotely. In this sense, Sarah has only found minor issues: all but one of her students had a newer smartphone, and all were able to download and use the app without any issues or specific training.

Sarah says “It’s nice to have a tool that’s designed for the sole purpose of helping my students practice speaking. All my students took to the app easily and after a couple of test runs, it’s become a natural and integral part of my classes”.

While teaching online, instructors often use Skype or Facetime. While synchronous speaking tools certainly allow for speaking practice, they also require scheduling time to talk, which makes it often impractical, with no-shows and dropped connections all too common. Making this process asynchronous, while maintaining authenticity and spontaneity is what makes Extempore a unique tool for foreign language teaching.