Luton 6th Form College – Blended Learning Technology for MFL

David9 months ago2 min read

Luton Sixth Form College has had a Tandberg/ Sanako language lab for at least 40 years. I know this because I remember using it as a student and again as a teacher when I joined the College staff in 2000.

Even though we eventually had to record CD material onto tapes in order to keep using the old lab with its huge teacher console, enormous headphones and fixed tape-decks, we were nervous about swapping its reliable solidity for a digital solution. Eleven years ago, though, we moved into a new purpose-built college building and a sleek new college required a sleek new lab, so we invested in Sanako Study 1200 and embraced the new possibilities. With the help of our own IT department and Sanako, we quickly embraced the flexibility of a system that offers a wide range of teaching and learning activities.

With the Study 1200 we could do everything we could do before plus lots that we could not. Obviously, speaking and listening were still key, but the ability to send documents, to disable the internet, to see what students had on their screen and even control what they did with it, made colleagues from other departments envious.

Then teaching mixed-ability classes, we can easily provide different groups of students with differentiated work by grouping them on Sanako. Collaborative work can be done both orally (using the ‘Discussion’ feature) or in writing (by using ‘Chat’). Of course, even with the most conscientious students there are always a couple of minutes of waving across the classroom and laughing as they figure out who they are speaking to, but once the novelty wears off, useful work can be done. We are lucky to have quite small classes in most languages, but with bigger classes, we can change groupings easily so that students get to speak to a number of different partners without having the disruption of moving about the room.

This term, we have added Sanako ConnectOnline to our resources. We are still novices at creating exercises, but we are excited to be able to use lab functions outside the classroom. The ability to set listening and speaking tasks as homework and the knowledge that should we have to return to remote teaching, we will still be able to do speaking practice, make climbing this latest rung on the language laboratory’s evolutionary ladder definitely worthwhile. 

Now we can deliver live languages lessons online or even just use Sanako Connect to set homework easily for our languages students and they can submit their work when completed for assessment and tutor feedback.

Samantha Fabbro – Head of Modern Languages, 

Luton Sixth Form College