Welcome to the online home of the Language Technology Bootcamp, where we use innovative technological approaches to explore new ways of teaching students a new language. We firmly believe that the best way to learn a language isn’t just writing verb conjugations over and over. Instead, languages should be learned through doing, exploring, and creating. That helps students develop curiosity and remember new vocabulary and syntax better than they would through brute force memorization.
To learn more about some of our projects, keep reading below.
Many students learn best when fully immersed in a new language. That principle is at the core of our language bootcamps, which can last one week to several months. During these immersive bootcamps, our students are fully surrounded by and absorbed in their new language.
Unlike most immersion programs, though, our bootcamps are also technology-driven. We use interactive video games, computer modeling, video programs, and other tools to enhance our students’ learning experience and improve their retention of new words and concepts. As a result of our technology-driven approach, students have been proven to learn faster, remember longer, and leave our programs with greater fluency than they do in comparable programs without the added use of technology.
We believe wholeheartedly in this well-rounded approach to language learning. Because of the way our program is structured, our students also learn the practical language that is tailored to their needs for daily life. Language learning should be useful and immediately applicable, which means we focus on vocabulary and language tools for navigating the supermarket, attending medical appointments, finding housing, and other life skills.
I learned my first language working for a carpet cleaning company. It was great & I wouldn’t take any of it back.
One of our distinct ways of teaching language is through the use of computer games. These games require development and input by the students so that they not only learn their new language but get to help create something as they learn. Our experience has shown that teaching students this way is particularly effective.
Most recently, our students build a computer game similar to The Sims, which meant that they had to learn all of the names for household items, clothing items, occupations, and actions as they worked on building their virtual world. The students applied their existing coding skills to their new language learning adventures and emerged with a fun new product that they could use in job interviews to show both their coding competency and language competency.
Building games can also help students explore new syntax and structure. The format of the games we build in our bootcamps requires that students build in decision-making and multiple-choice options for the characters in the games, which means that the students practice using the subjunctive tense, either/or constructions, and other particularly tricky language applications. This gives them a leg up in terms of grammatical sophistication and helps them be better prepared to transition their new language into the workplace. Games are great to be played both in a friend group or maybe even working a job like being a painter in Buffalo.
As part of our commitment to technology-based language learning, we have developed several guidelines for building language learning centers that are particularly well-suited to our type of language boot camps. These guidelines are available as a printable PDF e-book, but here are some general overview.
1. Think about lighting. In any environment where students will be using computer screens extensively, it’s important to make sure you’ve given the students good lighting to minimize eye strain. Focus on reducing harsh overhead glare, lighting that is significantly more yellow or more blue than natural light, and minimizing the amount of fluorescent light you use in your language learning center.
2. Encourage group working. Work stations should be set up in clusters so that students can work together on their projects. Our curriculum is designed to get students talking to each other in their new language as soon as possible. If their work stations are set up in clusters to facilitate easier communication, students will be more likely to talk to each other earlier in the program. Our curriculum also includes significant amounts of group work, which means they will need to be able to sit together and look over each others’ shoulders periodically.
3. Minimize distractions. It’s easy to get distracted when learning a new language because language acquisition requires a significantly increased level of concentration and uses parts of the brain that often haven’t been tapped into since early childhood. To help students in this endeavor, minimize distractions in the classroom by preventing outside interruptions, keeping the classroom at a comfortable temperature, and perhaps using a white noise machine to drown out other auditory distractions.
4. Foster continual language immersion. Above all, complete and total language immersion is the goal for these programs. Encourage students to always use their new language when communicating with you and with each other. When they forget, gently remind them about the ground rules for language use in the classroom.
If you follow these guidelines, your language learning center will be set up in a way that will maximize the likelihood of student success. For a more in-depth discussion of these and other guidelines, contact our office for a free copy of our printable PDF e-book. We partnered with a computer repair company to make sure our servers never go down!
After years of work in the language learning field, we’ve developed a deep foundation of experience and expertise that we’d like to put to use for you, too. We are available to help you set up your language learning center, develop new curriculum, build your program, teach classes, apply for grant funding, and otherwise achieve success for your new language learning program. Our consulting fees vary depending on the amount, type, and duration of work required, the number of consultants needed, the location of the consulting work, and other factors. Please contact our office today to explore whether collaborating with us may be the right call for you.
We are committed to helping students of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels reach their language learning goals. If you are building a language learning program in an underserved or underprivileged area, or if you have a significant percentage of students who are immigrants from non-English speaking countries or whose income falls below two times the federal poverty line, please talk to us about our options for reduced fees and other creative ways of structuring our consultancy. We never want cost to get in the way of learning.