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 demanding process of bringing Extempore to life. Here are, in a nut-shell, the key motivations in our endeavor.
The need for a convenient way to avoid scheduling one-on-one interviews during class time. If you teach 30 students in a 65-minute class period three times a week, how long does it take you to individually meet with each of those students for end-of the-semester oral interviews? About 3 class periods (a week!) and you only get 5 minutes with each person.
The need to assess unrehearsed speech to better gauge our students’ oral proficiency. The reason why we keep scheduling one-on-one interviews during class time is because proficiency is more accurately assessed from unrehearsed performance. Before Extempore, if you wanted to save time by using technology, the only way to ensure students would not write their answers before speaking was to bring them all to a language lab and supervise the recording.
The almost ubiquitous nature of mobile devices in today’s classroom. Let’s face it, more and more schools are buying tablets to enhance learning and, if you teach college, almost all your students have a smartphone in their pockets. Why not taking advantage of the potential of this trend to achieve our learning objectives?
The need for a tool to prevent students from scripting their oral assignments in online courses. If you teach a foreign language online, this statement really resonated with you, didn’t it? Before Extempore, there were no tools with timing restrictions to prevent this issue, making it very challenging for online language instructors to incorporate spontaneous speaking practice in their courses.
The need for a more cost-effective alternative to aging computer labs. The rising adoption of tablets and BYOD programs in k-12 institutions is related to administrators’ reservations about maintaining and upgrading aging computer labs. For language instructors using these spaces as language labs, Extempore represents an alternative tool for the individualized listening and speaking activities typically performed in the lab.
Now you know what motivated us to pursue the Extempore idea. Of course, Extempore may have solved different needs for you and we would love to know about them. If Extempore was the solution for a problem that we didn’t list, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.