Guidance for MFL heads of department and ICT managers
on setting up and using digital labs and multimedia ICT suites

Authors: Graham Davies, Paul Bangs,
Roger Frisby & Elizabeth Walton

Originally published by CILT in 2005
Last revised 20 April 2012

Table of contents

  1. Terminology
  2. Technology and language teaching: a brief history
  3. The digital revolution
  4. What is a digital language lab?
  5. Digital language labs
  6. Other digital facilities
  7. The management perspective
  8. Training
  9. Copyright issues
  10. Case studies
  11. Bibliography
  12. Web links

1. Terminology

Inevitably, a certain amount of jargon creeps into a document like this, often in the form of acronyms or abbreviations. We have tried to explain terms in full when they are introduced for the first time. Three examples that occur frequently throughout the document are:
A substantial Glossary of ICT Terminology is available at the ICT4LT website, which offers a comprehensive collection of ICT training materials for language teachers.

2. Technology and language teaching: a brief history

Language teachers have been using technological aids for many years. Here are some that they have used since the beginning of the 20th century:

All of these devices and media can present sound and most of them can also present video. Sound is indispensable because teaching a language without offering the learner the opportunity of hearing native speakers' voices is unthinkable. Video offers additional opportunities for enhancing the learner's experience, ranging from presenting a talking head so that the learner can see how lip movements and gestures relate to the spoken language, to films on life and culture in the target language country (Hill 1999).

It may be useful to look at two of the technological aids listed above in more detail:

The tape recorder probably had the single greatest impact on language learning. Its introduction meant that the teacher could play recordings of authentic native speech, and the learner could also record his/her own voice and play it back to hear how he/she really sounded. A modified version of the tape recorder, the Audio Active Comparative (AAC) recorder, went a step further. It made it possible for the learner to record his/her own voice on the same tape as the recorded voice of a native speaker without erasing the original.

The tape-based language lab, which became popular in secondary schools and other institutions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was a development based on the AAC recorder. The language lab was initially perceived as a solution to the problem of teaching foreign languages to a large number of learners in a short time, and undoubtedly it was a worthwhile invention. However, the language lab gradually fell out of favour towards the end of the 1970s, mainly for the following reasons:

From around the mid-1980s, the language lab was given a new lease of life. This was due in part to improvements in technology, but also to more user-friendly controls, imaginative materials and improved lab design that got away from the battery-chicken-farm appearance of rows of booths. At the same time, self-access was coming into fashion and there was a wealth of new ideas on using the lab: pair work, group work, role-play, communication games, etc: see Ely (1984) and Davies (1997:28f.).

If you are interested in the History of Computer Assisted Language Learning have a look at Section 2, Module 1.4, at the ICT4LT website.

3. The digital revolution

Digital technology dates back to the invention of the digital computer in Manchester in 1948. Initially, it was very much a specialist province, but nowadays most of the electronic equipment that we use in our everyday lives, such as the mobile phone, TV set and washing machine, incorporates digital technology. Since the 1970s, when the first affordable microcomputers appeared, a digital revolution has taken place.

The basic meaning of analogue is "something that corresponds to something else": for example, the groove on a vinyl record corresponds to the nature and volume of the sound that has been recorded. Analogue recordings on vinyl records or magnetic tapes can be of very high quality, but they all suffer to some extent from background noise, and the quality of reproduction gradually degrades as the record or tape wears out. If the recording is copied, the copy will not be as good as the original, regardless of the quality of the equipment used to copy it.

Digital equipment, on the other hand, just stores and processes numbers. The modern computer is a typical example of digital equipment, as are the audio CD and DVD, on which numbers are coded as a string of tiny pits pressed into a plastic disc. When the recording is played back, a laser reading device retrieves the exact numeric values from the disc and converts them into sound and/or video. Digital recordings made from any source (tapes, television, radio, Internet, satellite TV, microphone or camcorder) can be edited easily, then stored on a computer, CD or DVD, network server, memory stick, etc. They can be copied without quality loss and, more significantly, can be used by more than one learner at the same time.

Major benefits are that digital recordings

4. What is a digital language lab?

A digital language lab is a network of multimedia computers plus appropriate software which provides the same basic functions as its predecessor, the analogue (tape-based) language lab. In addition it has facilities for the integration of word-processing, video and a range of other computer applications, as well as access to the Internet. Digital labs can be software-only labs or hybrid labs. Older tape-based labs are still in use, but their numbers are dwindling.

Have a look at Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website, Managing a multimedia language centre.

4.1 Software-only labs

Software-only labs have no connections between the computers other than a single, standard, network cable. Plus points are lower cost and flexibility, although they may be more dependent on the speed of the school computer network. Upgrading is easier and, apart from headsets, there should be no repair or maintenance costs over and above normal computer maintenance. A standard multimedia computer suite can be transformed into a software-only lab with the addition of special software. In labs like this is often a slight delay in voice communication between teacher and learner, but modern school networks are so fast that this may not be noticed.

4.2 Hybrid labs

Hybrid labs have additional cabling and interface boxes to carry voice communication and control signals. Plus points are instantaneous voice communication between teacher and learner, and they often have better monitoring facilities and teacher control of student desktops. Minus points are that their additional cabling can restrict room layout and sharing with other subject areas. Their cost is generally higher than software-only systems.

5. Digital language labs

The following businesses specialise in the supply of digital language labs:

Specifications vary enormously. You should ask if the lab in which you are interested is purely digital and therefore needs only standard network cables or if it requires additional cabling. You should also ask if you can use any kind of authoring program to create your own interactive materials, or if you have to use special authoring programs supplied with the lab: see Section 6.3.4 and Section 6.3.5 on authoring.

Prices of digital labs vary considerably and may or may not include furniture, e.g. desks, chairs and other items. See the websites of the above suppliers for further information.

Digital language labs provide the following facilities:

However, issues that need to be carefully considered include:

6. Other digital facilities

Many educational institutions do not have dedicated digital language laboratories as described above. This may be for reasons of policy as much as for financial considerations. The majority of schools and colleges in the UK, however, have access to other forms of computer resources. These occur in many configurations, for example:

6.1 Shared ICT facilities

One of the major problems that may arise when using shared ICT facilities is access. Whilst the UK has an excellent record of provision of computers per head of student body, regular access to them by non-ICT areas such as MFL can cause friction. MFL departments may encounter difficulties in negotiating their requirements with the ICT manager in their institution. Also the special requirements of MFL for the use of full multimedia facilities can affect the hardware configurations, such as the use of earphones and microphones and the physical environment of the room, and these can cause some difficulties.

The computers need to be set up for sound output and microphone use, and the control settings vary from machine to machine and in different versions of Windows. There may be a regular requirement for staff or learners to access programs such as audio-editing and video-editing software to create learning resources, and often it is not easy for teachers to negotiate rights to do this with the ICT manager. In addition, ICT managers often find it easier to install new software at infrequent intervals to ensure stability on the network, and this in turn may cause delays and inflexibility.

Another issue is the question of "allowed" software on the computers. Increasing restrictions are placed by ICT managers on the types of programs they allow to be installed. The reason for this is primarily to protect the network from viruses, worms, Trojans, and hacker activity. For the same reason ICT managers may not allow CD-ROMs, memory sticks and other devices to be connected to individual computers. Many school networks do not allow the downloading of executable files, such as EXE files. Using compression programs such as WinZip and WinRar, and downloading certain types of files from the Web is often banned since they may contain hidden executable files. Access to certain websites, especially social-networking sites, virtual worlds such as Second Life and video-sharing sites such as YouTube, may also be blocked. Whilst the need for these precautions is understandable, it can cause problems for teachers.

Finally, a whole class of learners accessing the same remote site or Web page simultaneously will slow down response time. If such sites are media-rich, as is often the case with MFL sites, the problem will be even more acute. MFL departments need to be aware of these difficulties and to discuss their requirements with ICT managers when planning or upgrading networks.

Finally, network licences are essential for legal use of programs that are accessible throughout the network. All institutions have a duty to ensure complete compliance with the law at all times: see Section 9 on Copyright issues.

6.2 Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

The way in which school networks are configured varies enormously. While some are very simple, others make use of a facility known as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), also referred to as a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) or Course Management System (CMS).

A VLE is essentially a Web-based facility offering learning and assessment materials together with new methods of communication with peers and tutors. VLEs can be used to deliver learning materials within an institution or within a local education authority. They may even address a wider constituency and be used on a worldwide basis. VLEs have certain advantages in terms of ease of delivery and management of learning materials. They may, however, be restrictive in that the underlying pedagogy attempts to address a very wide range of subjects, and thus does not necessarily fit in with established practice in language learning and teaching.

Popular VLEs that are currently available include Blackboard and Moodle. Moodle is the VLE that appears to be gaining most in popularity among language teachers, and it has been adopted by The Open University. Moodle is open source software which, as the Moodle website states: "means you are free to download it, use it, modify it and even distribute it".

See Section 8, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, Distance learning and the Web: VLEs, MLEs etc.

6.3 Software resources

6.3.1 General

A vast range of digital resources is available for MFL teaching and learning, on CD-ROM, on DVD or online via the Web: see Section 6.3.2, The Web. These two websites publish software evaluations but their coverage of MFL resources is very limited:

Publishers' printed and online catalogues are generally more comprehensive, up-to-date and informative. There are also school websites offering free resources and reviews of software, e.g. the extensive MFL Web pages at The Ashcombe School. A comprehensive list of CALL software publishers and retailers can be found in the Resource Centre at the ICT4LT website.

Few language departments find it appropriate to use complete commercial language courses (also known as courseware) either on- or offline. Such courses, however, often contain useful elements that a teacher may wish to exploit. Before purchasing courseware, it would be useful to analyse it from the point of view of whether or not it is possible to select and adapt sections for specific learning aims. There are many items in commercial courses that may be used as components of an MFL curriculum. However, quality can vary and it is often difficult to assess such courses before purchase, as many providers are unwilling to offer a "see before you buy" policy, for security and commercial reasons. Some manufacturers do, however, provide demo- or reduced-functionality versions that allow potential purchasers to evaluate the product. MFL teachers contributing to online discussion lists and forums often recommend courseware or respond to requests about the availability of specific software packages: see Section 6.4 on Storage and sharing of materials. Complete courses are occasionally reviewed in MFL journals, such as the journals published by the Association for Language Learning (ALL) and specialist journals devoted to ICT and MFL: see the CALL bibliography in the Resource Centre at the ICT4LT website.

Guidelines for assessing the value of courseware, as well as pointers to the different categories that exist, may be useful, but much depends on the specific needs of the learning institution and individual teachers’ personal preferences. A list of criteria for evaluating MFL software resources can be found in the CALL Software and Website Evaluation Forms that can be downloaded from the ICT4LT website.

The general consensus is that courseware should reflect certain principles. These include:

Ideally, courseware should also allow the learner the opportunity to move through the phases of:

There are sound theoretical bases for these procedures, and a useful starting point is the conceptualisation, construction, dialogue model discussed by Mayes (2001).

In addition, the following questions should be addressed when considering use or purchase of courseware:

6.3.2 The Web

There is a wide range of websites containing useful resources for language teaching and learning, and many schools and colleges maintain lists of links to such sites. A useful starting point is Graham Davies's Favourite Websites page, which contains over 500 categorised links to such resources.

See also these two modules at the ICT4LT website, which cover a range of topics relating to the Web, including recent topics such as Web 2.0 applications and virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Some teachers might even consider creating their own website: see Module 3.3 at the ICT4LT website, Creating a World Wide Web site.

Certain issues, however, need to be considered when using the Web. The Web is undoubtedly an excellent resource for finding information and teaching and learning resources, but educational institutions must give serious consideration to their access policy. This is especially important in the case of younger learners, as many websites contain undesirable material which young people can access by accident or design. Use of software that filters out undesirable material, is one way of controlling access to it: see Section 12.6, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, E-Safety. There could be serious repercussions if parents decided to take legal action on the grounds of the school's irresponsibility in allowing a child to access an offensive site. On the other hand, some filters are hypersensitive and deny access to completely harmless websites, so care needs to be taken in the selection of appropriate software.

In addition, any institution maintaining a list of web links should investigate the suitability of the sites, and check the links regularly to ensure that the contents have not changed in any undesirable way. There are documented cases of websites changing overnight from harmless sites into extremely unpleasant ones: see Davies (2004). Over-reliance on any one site should also be avoided as it could change or disappear overnight.

There are millions of excellent websites dedicated to the provision of information, and the use of these is of obvious benefit. However, sites specifically designed for language learning often pay too little attention to the needs of the learner, and many sites do not employ the same rigorous principles that are expected from other ways of delivering learning materials.

The question of copyright also needs to be considered when incorporating Web pages into learning materials: see Section 9 on Copyright issues.

6.3.3 Communications software

Communications software can be an effective tool for language learning, if well handled. Examples of communications software include: Email

Email can be a highly motivating facility, especially when used for contacts with partner institutions in the country of the target language. The individual teacher may have little control over the way email is handled within an institution, and may find that it is subject to certain restrictions, but a positive aspect is that the institution takes care of important problems such as computer viruses and other unwanted intrusions. The standard email software package for the majority of institutions is Microsoft Outlook, which is included with the Windows operating system, but there are other email software packages, e.g. Eudora, which could be considered as alternatives. One of the drawbacks of using Outlook is that it is frequently targeted by viruses and hackers.

Section 14, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, Computer Medicated Communication (CMC), includes several sub-sections on using email in the MFL classroom. See also Gläsmann (2004). E-twinning and tandem learning

E-twinning involves working with a partner school in another country and regular peer-to-peer communication with different groups of learners at different levels. See Section 14.8, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, Working with partner schools: e-twinning.

Tandem learning is a system whereby two people with different native languages work together in order to improve their language skills and to learn more about each other’s character and culture. Each partner can help the other through explanations in the foreign language, comparisons, etc. As it is always based on communication between members of different language communities and cultures, tandem learning also facilitates intercultural learning. A Tandem Learning website is maintained at the University of Bochum, where more information, including ways in which partners can be identified, is available. See Section 14.9, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, Tandem learning (buddy learning). Chat rooms

Chat rooms offer online, synchronous, mainly text-based communication facilities where people can either drop in or arrange to meet at specific times. Text is typed in online and seen almost immediately by other students who are online at the same time. They can then respond immediately through the same medium. Chat rooms involve extensive time online and, when used for language learning, can put a great deal of pressure on learners. This is because they are required to read and write fairly rapidly, with little time to reflect on the quality of the language used. However, despite receiving much negative criticism, chat-rooms can be an effective tool if well handled and monitored. See Section 14.2, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website, Chat rooms, MUDs, MOOs and MUVEs. Audio- and videoconferencing

This is a rapidly developing area of ICT, but often underused in schools. There are substantial sections on audio- and videoconferencing in Module 1.5 at the ICT4LT website: Other forms of communicating online

This is a huge growth area and includes blogs, wikis, social networking, virtual worlds and podcasts - all of which are dealt with in Section 12, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website. See also the Glossary of ICT terminology at the ICT4LT website for definitions of these terms.

6.3.4 Authoring: a definition

The term authoring is used in this context to describe the creation of courseware using an authoring program or authoring tool. Authoring involves:

More detailed information, plus links to many providers of authoring software, can be found in Module 2.5 at the ICT4LT website, Introduction to CALL authoring programs.

There is also information in Module 2.2 at the ICT4LT website, Introduction to multimedia CALL, about the discrete aspects of creating multimedia materials. The suggestions above are intended only as a starting point.

6.3.5 Authoring programs

Authoring programs enable the teacher to create sets of interactive materials without having to learn how to program a computer. This is quite different from just assembling content elements such as texts, pictures, and audio and video recordings. Authoring programs vary enormously in style, but in essence all provide a shell, or template, into which the teacher can add content to create interactive learning materials.

Teachers may be unaware that Word and PowerPoint can also be considered as authoring tools. For instance, Word can be used to create quizzes and multiple-choice activities, whereas more advanced use of PowerPoint offers a range of interactive options. The use of word-processors and PowerPoint is dealt with in greater detail in Module 1.3 at the ICT4LT website, Using word-processing and presentation software in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom.

Authoring programs can be divided into those which are generic and those which are subject-specific. Authorware, Director, Dreamweaver, Shockwave, and Flash, all of which are produced by Adobe, can be said to be generic. They are extremely powerful but they require considerable time to master, and as such are more for the specialist or enthusiast. There are, however, simpler but nonetheless effective, tools specific to language learning which are accessible to most people. Some are predominantly text-based, such as Camsoft's text-manipulation package, Fun with Texts, and Wida Software's The Authoring Suite: see Hewer (1997). Others, such as mdlsoft's TaskMagic, offer a variety of templates for creating exercises and games, including activities suitable for use on an interactive whiteboard. These packages are easy to use, well supported and have a long track record of success.

Other packages are aimed at Web-based usage, such as Hot Potatoes. The Hot Potatoes suite includes a set of applications, enabling the teacher to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is free of charge for those working for publicly funded, non-profit-making educational institutions that make their pages available on the Web. Other users must pay for a licence. Check the licensing terms at the Hot Potatoes website.

The MALTED authoring program allows the creation of complete courseware routines rather than discrete exercises. MALTED was designed to offer sophisticated authoring possibilities for language learning, but it goes considerably further in that affords the possibility of a truly collaborative approach to authoring for language learning, by means of the use of a comprehensive data base of reusable resources which are made available via the Internet. MALTED is a dynamic evolving tool, comprising a wide range of templates for creating exercises. At a higher level than the exercise template, there is a courseware template which enables exercises or other materials to be assembled into pedagogically meaningful sequences or to create a whole course. Further advantages include the ability of the author to control the display characteristics of the courseware created, and to include into any template any media object desired. The MALTED project was completed in 2000. There is little evidence of the uptake of MALTED in the UK, but the system is constantly being improved and updated through the management of CNICE, an agency for innovation and technological development at the Spanish Ministry of Education. MALTED is open source freeware.

Prior to using an authoring program, the teacher needs to gather or create a set of resources, e.g. texts, images, audio recordings and video recordings. Collectively, such resources are often referred to as assets. There are various tools available for creating and editing such assets, which are described in more detail below. See Section 2.2.3, Module 2.2 at the ICT4LT website, Doing it yourself.

6.3.6 Creating and editing texts

Most teachers and trainers will be familiar with programs for creating and editing texts, such as Microsoft Word. It should be noted that, although Word can be used as an authoring tool in its own right, text files might need to be saved in a specific format such as Rich Text File (RTF) when using it to create material for other authoring programs. More can be found on this topic in Module 1.3 at the ICT4LT website, Using word-processing and presentation software in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom.

6.3.7 Creating and editing images

The two main types of images involved here are photographs and drawings and graphics. Photographs

The easiest way to build up a collection of photographs is to use a digital camera. These come equipped with software and a cable that enables photographs to be uploaded and stored on a computer via its USB (Universal Serial Bus) connection port - a socket that used to be located at the back of a computer but nowadays is usually found at the front. Learners are often encouraged to use digital cameras themselves, e.g. on a school trip abroad, as part of the language acquisition process. Existing photographic prints can be digitised and stored on a computer by means of a scanner. Photographs can also be gathered from other resources, e.g. from CD-ROM collections or from the Web.

Once the photographs have been stored on the computer they will probably require editing. Adobe's Photoshop is considered to be the industry-standard application for this, but it is costly and can be too complex for general usage. Other programs such as Corel's PaintShop Photo Pro or LView Pro may be more suitable. There are many other programs for creating and editing photographs: see Section, Module 2.2, at the ICT4LT website, Image editing software.

It is also necessary to understand the various standard image file formats such as JPG and GIF, how to change these formats and why. In addition, other basic techniques that these programs can offer, including resizing images, cropping parts of them, improving quality (brightness, contrast, colour casts, etc) need to be mastered. It is then possible to move on to look at special effects, should the teacher wish to experiment further. Drawings and graphics

Adobe's Illustrator is the industry-standard package for producing artwork, i.e. original drawings, graphics etc, but, like Adobe's Photoshop, it is costly, complex and offers much more than the average user needs. There are many other programs for creating and editing drawings: see Section, Module 2.2, at the ICT4LT website, Image editing software.

Simple but effective artwork can be assembled by copying clipart from a wide range of sources such as CD-ROM collections or the Web. Links to Clipart and Image Libraries on the Web can be found in Graham Davies's Favourite Website lists. The use of clipart is legal provided that the source's licence terms concerning distribution or re-selling are adhered to. For instance, incorporating clipart into classroom handouts or even multimedia applications is generally allowed, but using the images in such a way that others could copy them is generally not permitted. If in doubt, check the licence: see Section 9 on Copyright issues.

Another source could be the art and design department of your own educational institution. Staff there will probably be familiar with many of the facilities that you might need, and consultation with them could lead to valuable cross-curricular activities.

6.3.8 Creating and editing audio recordings

The creation and editing of audio recordings is an essential area of multimedia resource creation, but relatively few language teachers are familiar with the software needed for creating and editing digital audio recordings. Every copy of Windows comes provided with Sound Recorder, and other audio editing software may be "bundled" with a new computer. Sound Recorder offers some editing possibilities but is severely limited in what it can do. The industry-standard program is Adobe's Audition, but it offers much more than the average user needs. A simpler and very popular program, Audacity, is available as freeware.

Such programs offer broadly similar features. They can digitise sound inputs from sources such as microphones, audiocassette recorders and portable digital recording devices. They also offer comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, editing facilities. It does not take much time for the teacher to familiarise him/herself with the techniques involved and the characteristics of different types of audio files, such as WAV or MP3. The results that can be achieved after minimal training are quite impressive. However, in many network configurations, teachers are not allowed administrator rights to access these recording and editing tools, and it may be necessary for the teacher to create and edit audio recordings on a stand-alone computer outside the school's main network.

See Section, Module 2.2, at the ICT4LT website, Sound recording and editing software.

6.3.9 Creating and editing video recordings

Video can be used to great advantage in the classroom:

A large number of foreign-language films are now available on DVD, and the Web is being used increasingly to broadcast video. Websites maintained by foreign TV stations and YouTube offer a rich array of video materials that can be used in MFL teaching.

You can also build up your own collection of digital recordings is to use a digital camcorder. Nowadays these usually come equipped with software and a cable that enables recordings to be uploaded and stored on a computer via its USB port or via a faster connection known as a firewire.

Video recordings nearly always require editing once they have been uploaded to a computer. A program known as Movie Maker comes bundled with modern versions of Windows and offers basic facilities for uploading and editing videos. There are also more sophisticated packages, such as Adobe's Premiere, which is the industry-standard software, and software produced by Pinnacle Systems. Some training will be needed in order to make full use of these applications, and also to raise awareness of the different types of video files, such as MPG or AVI. However, in many network configurations, teachers are not allowed administrator rights to access these recording and editing tools, and it may be necessary for the teacher to create and edit video recordings on a stand-alone computer outside the school’s main network.

Many learning centres use satellite TV programmes as a matter of course. Access to vast numbers of Free to Air (FTA) foreign language channels on satellite TV is easy and relatively cheap, though care has to be taken as to their use within the classroom. Once the material has been downloaded the resulting videos will need to be edited in the same way as any others, with tools such as those described above.

See Section, Module 2.2, at the ICT4LT website, Video editing software.

6.3.10 Copyright and audio and video recordings

Teachers should be aware of copyright restrictions on using and manipulating texts, images, audio recordings and video recordings gathered from CD-ROMs, the Web and other sources: see Section 9 on Copyright issues.

6.4 Storing and sharing materials

Once learning materials and/or assets to be incorporated in them have been created, they will need to be stored in an organised and accessible way. Teachers should not underestimate the need for training in areas such as:

There can be mutual benefits in sharing your materials with others via online discussion lists and forums, provided that this is done within the constraints of copyright legislation. There are a number of teachers' resources websites, which enable teachers to upload their learning materials so that they can be shared with other teachers, but see Section 9 on Copyright issues.


6.5 Accessibility

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) means that creators and providers of courseware are required to take into account the needs of special educational needs and disabled learners.

Teachers and other creators of learning materials should be aware of the need to create equivalent or alternative learning experiences for those with a range of disabilities including visual or auditory impairment, motor skill deficiencies, colour blindness, dyslexia, etc..

7. The management perspective

In this section digital labs and multimedia ICT suites are discussed from the point of view of the:

See Module 3.1, at the ICT4LT website, Managing a multimedia language centre.

7.1 Senior Management Team

The aim of this document is not to prescribe which of the many options to follow when considering the introduction or enhancement of ICT facilities for language learning and teaching. Rather, it aims to offer advice and information which could prove helpful in considering the specific needs of any particular MFL department.

Major issues requiring consideration are:

These three issues are closely interlinked. Using technology at any level should always be seen as a pedagogical issue. If it is to play a significant role in improving teaching and learning, it must be compatible with the theory and practice developed in the classroom. Senior management will be aware of recent and current MFL issues, e.g. the Dearing Languages Review (2007). In MFL a due regard for educational values has usually taken priority in the past, but increasing uptake of ICT and, in particular, the "rush to the Web", have demonstrated how difficult it is to maintain pedagogical rigour in this respect.

If demand for MFL technology facilities originates in the department itself, staff needs are likely to be clearly articulated and should be considered carefully - see Section 7.2. The specific needs of MFL teaching and learning in terms of provision of ICT hardware and software are very real, and - in the case of audio playback, audio and video recording facilities, and other media-rich facilities - have implications for configuration policies.

7.1.1 Key questions to address

If change is being achieved from outside rather than from within the MFL department, consideration must be given to the alternatives available. If the MFL staff have not yet reached the stage of having a clear vision of their ICT requirements they will not be satisfied with imposed solutions which may not be flexible enough to provide for their development of ideas. Further training will be the key factor here.

Finally, some notes on creating resources. The very nature of MFL learning implies exposure to as wide a range as possible of cultural, linguistic and interactive resources. These are necessary in order to convey knowledge and aid the acquisition of the complex skills involved in learning a language. MFL teachers therefore need the means to create, adapt and tailor a wide range of multimedia resources for their learners. In order to do this they may need access to dedicated computers, possibly with additional administrator rights and with enhanced facilities in terms of memory, storage capacity, sound recording, video recording, etc. They will also need to be able to install a range of dedicated authoring programs. To make these facilities available over a school network may be expensive in terms of licences and difficult in terms of security, so a dedicated facility for the department should be carefully considered.

7.2 MFL Head of Department

The MFL HoD's prime consideration in choosing any kind of technical equipment is to what it extent it enhances MFL teaching and learning: i.e. pedagogy and methodology first, technology second.

7.2.1 How effective is ICT in MFL teaching and learning?

There is still a good deal of scepticism concerning the effectiveness of ICT in MFL teaching and learning, but there is growing evidence that ICT, when firmly embedded in the MFL curriculum, has a measurable positive effect. A number of different reports and studies confirm this view:

When considering the installation of a digital lab or multimedia suite (both of which we shall refer to below simply as lab), the first question that the MFL teacher needs to ask is to what extent the equipment is capable of enhancing tried and tested pedagogies and methodologies. It is also necessary to enquire to what extent the equipment will enable the introduction of new approaches to teaching and learning that would not be possible without it. In general, the main benefits of using ICT in MFL can be summarised as follows. ICT offers:

7.2.2 Key questions to ask suppliers of digital labs

The key questions that need to be addressed to the supplier of a digital language lab include:

The disadvantages of installing a digital lab should also be considered, for example. The following subsections detail just a few of the issues that need to be addressed. For further information on setting up and managing a digital lab or multimedia suite see Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website, Managing a multimedia language centre.

7.2.3 Conversion of existing resources to digital format

An audit of existing analogue resources is necessary in order to find out how easy it is to convert them to digital format. Ideally, all resources used in the new lab should be converted to digital format but, as well as needing to take into account the time and labour involved, there may be copyright restrictions on converting certain resources to digital format: see Section 9 on Copyright issues. For example, permission may need to be sought from publishers if commercially purchased audio and video materials are to be converted and stored in digital format.

7.2.4 Storage of digitised material

Digital audio and video files are large, even when they are compressed to save space. Plenty of storage space on the server will be needed.

7.2.5 Speed of access

Depending on how the system works, its speed, the number of students accessing the network at one time and various other factors, you may experience hiccups in the delivery of digital audio or video over a network.

7.3 ICT Manager

It is assumed that the ICT Manager in a school has a sound knowledge of the technical aspects of managing ICT facilities. The role of this document is to offer advice that is relevant in an MFL teaching and learning context, rather than to look at general technical issues.

7.3.1 Framework of ICT Technical Support (FITS)

FITS is an approach to technical support, originally developed by BECTA (now defunct), that places the emphasis on proactive tasks as well as reactive ones. It sees the main objective of technical support as preventing incidents from occurring rather than resolving problems. The key elements of FITS are:

i. Service Desk: The single point of contact within the school for all users of ICT and the services provided by Technical Support.

ii. Incident Management: To detect, diagnose and resolve ICT incidents as quickly as possible and minimise their adverse impact on normal operation.

iii. Problem Management: The detection of the underlying causes of incidents and their resolution and prevention.

iv. Change Management: The managed and recorded introduction of changes to hardware, software, services or documentation to minimise disruption to ICT operation and maintain accurate configuration information.

v. Configuration Management: Implementing and maintaining up-to-date records of ICT hardware, software, services and documentation, and showing the relationships between them.

vi. Release Management: To plan, test and manage the successful implementation of software and hardware. To define release policy and to ensure that master copies of all software are secured centrally.

vii. Availability Management: To ensure that ICT services are available for use consistently as agreed.

viii. Capacity Management: To ensure that all ICT processing and storage capacity provision match present and evolving needs.

ix. Service Level Management: The process of defining, agreeing and documenting the service levels that are acceptable and achievable and monitoring actual performance against these levels.

x. Service Continuity Management: To minimise the impact on ICT service of an environmental disaster and put in place and communicate a plan for recovery.

xi. Financial Management: To ensure that the ICT and technical resources are implemented and managed in a cost effective way.

7.3.2 What are MFL teachers' special requirements?

Regarding the special requirements of MFL teachers, the key issues have already been covered in the preceding sections of this document. The most important are summarised here:

8. Training

Training is an area that is commonly neglected in the education sector. The training budget is often the first to be cut in times of financial crisis, and there is a tendency for senior management to regard training as a one-off rather than an ongoing process. The failure of earlier technologies, such as the language lab, to make a significant impact on teaching and learning can often be traced back to the lack of appropriate training for teachers in making the best use of them (Davies 1997:28).

Failure to provide adequate training in the use of new technologies leaves the door wide open for sceptics and cynics to mount their attacks (Oppenheimer 1997). ICT training presents a particular problem, because computer technology changes daily, and one often feels caught up in a process of "dynamic obsolescence" (Davies 1997:27). Training, therefore, has to be an ongoing process.

It goes without saying that training must be subject-specific, i.e. it must address the requirements of MFL teachers. Learning how to operate the lab is absolutely essential - and this will be specific to the lab that is finally selected. Many digital labs are under-used or not used at all by some teachers, simply because they have not been given adequate training in using the facilities that the lab offers. Teachers also need training in using the software that will be used in the lab. Equally important is training that covers the pedagogical and methodological implications of using a multimedia lab.

The ICT4LT website contains a total of 16 training modules aimed at MFL teachers in all sectors of education, which is more than the average secondary school teacher needs. An introductory ICT course for MFL teachers could be narrowed down to four topics:

We shall now look at each of these topics individually.

See also:

8.1 Using generic software in language learning and teaching

Generic software is likely to have been supplied along with the hardware. Learning how to use it is a prerequisite for subsequent MFL-specific training as many of the basic operations teachers learn will be transferable. Generic software includes:

Word and PowerPoint are covered in Module 1.3 at the ICT4LT website, Using word-processing and presentation software in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom.

A problem that is frequently encountered by trainers is that language teachers come equipped with varying levels of knowledge of essential Windows operations and generic software when they join a training course in ICT. The ICT4LT website provides a package of ICT Can Do Lists in Word format. These lists enable the trainer to identify gaps in trainees' knowledge of Windows operations and of generic software, as well as a range of MFL-specific software. The lists also aim to help trainees assess the development of their skills and understanding as they progress through their training.

8.2 CALL pedagogy and methodology

Module 2.1 at the ICT4LT website has a strong focus on CALL pedagogy and methodology and how ICT can be integrated into language teaching. It contains sound practical advice on structuring the learning environment and providing and delivering language learning resources. However, this has been the least visited module ever since the ICT4LT website was set up in 1999-2000. It appears that the theroretical aspects of ICT training have little appeal for MFL teachers, who appear to be put off by words ending in "-ogy". Littlemore (2002:4-5) also reports that the theoretical part of a course for language teachers delivered at the University of Birmingham in 2001 did not prove popular with trainees. Computer Assisted Language Learning is likely to be more successful if theoretical findings are given due consideration, so why is there this apparent lack of interest? Apart from the negative reactions that many people have towards the theoretical, it may be that the attractions of the technology itself cause educational theory to take a back seat. See the thread in the ICT4LT blog headed Technology v. pedagogy - lest we forget...

Pedagogy and methodology need not, however, be dealt with in an abstract way. For example, trainees can be presented with a range of different types of CALL software and asked to evaluate them: see the combined Software and Website Evaluation Forms that can be downloaded from the ICT4LT website.

8.3 Exploiting the World Wide Web

The ability to use a Web browser is essential if language teachers wish to explore language resources on the Web. The ICT Can Do Lists at the ICT4LT website include a list for a browser and a list for email software. There are also some "I understand" statements concerning plug-ins, copyright, the importance of keeping anti-virus software up to date and using a firewall while connected to the Internet, which may be of use to teachers.

Workshops on exploiting the Web typically begin with an atmosphere of excitement as the participants skip from site to site all around the world. This tends to be followed by a gradual realisation that the wealth of materials available means that careful planning ahead and setting of structured meaningful tasks for learners is the key to success. Trainees learn that unstructured browsing can be entertaining, and often informative, but that it does not necessarily lead to successful language learning. It is therefore important that teachers learn how to find relevant, pedagogically sound materials on the Web and, above all, how to integrate them into their teaching: see (Vogel 2001) and Atkinson (2002).


Some teachers might even consider developing their own website: Module 3.3 at the ICT4LT website, Creating a World Wide Web site.

8.4 CALL authoring programs

Authoring programs have already been mentioned under Section 6.3.4 and Section 6.3.5. Teachers often gain some satisfaction from using an authoring program, such as a package that offers a pre-set range of templates for creating exercises, even if it takes a little time to master the required skills. This can give a feeling of empowerment in that the teacher is in control of the provision of content while though the computer does the work, namely delivering the exercises to the learner and offering feedback. The main drawback of template packages is that they tend to be restrictive, reflecting to a large extent the pedagogies and methodologies of the person(s) who designed them. Other authoring programs offer a wide range of interactivity but the time factor needs to be taken into account in order to use such tools to their best advantage.

See Module 2.5 at the ICT4LT website, Introduction to CALL authoring programs..

8.5 Training courses

The New Opportunities Funding (NOF) ICT training initiative that ran from 1999 to 2003 offered free training to primary and secondary school teachers was one of the most extensive INSET training initiatives ever undertaken in the UK - and the last extensive initiative of this type. NOF was only partially successful. For example, schools were faced with a bewildering array of approved training providers, which made the task of choosing a suitable one very difficult. Only three providers were subject specialists: MFL, Science and History. The most important lesson that was learned from the NOF initiative is that ICT training works best if it is delivered by a competent subject-specific provider. Feedback from teachers who followed courses delivered by subject-specific training providers, e.g. CILT, was much more positive than from those who attended generic ICT training courses.

Currently, it is not easy to find suitable ICT training courses for MFL teachers. The current trend is for teachers to set up their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), making use of social networking sites such as Twitter to build up a network of contacts from whom they can seek advice and to whom they can offer advice. There is currently a group on Twitter known as the "MFL Twitterati", whose members regularly exchange information on ICT in the context of MFL and also MFL teaching in general. An EC-funded project, known as aPLaNet focuses on Autonomous Personal Learning Networks for Language Teachers, offering help and advice. The aPLaNet project also makes use of Facebook to disseminate information.

Teachers' blogs and wikis are often useful sources of information on the use of ICT in MFL: see Section 12, Module 1.5, at the ICT4LT website.

9. Copyright issues

The following should not be taken as an authoritative interpretation of copyright law. It is intended solely as a guide. The question of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in general and copyright in particular cannot be ignored when dealing with the creation of learning materials.

9.1 What is copyright?

Copyright hinges essentially on ownership, on the right of the owner of a work to say who is allowed to copy it. Once a work has been created and published it will possess its own copyright by its very existence as a published work - provided that it has been created with regard to copyright law. This is true of materials of any sort - texts, images, audio clips, video clips, or other - wherever they are published, including on the Web. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to assert or announce the copyright in a work, either by use of the copyright symbol © or by a statement - though these can help by identifying the date and ownership of the work. Copyright in the UK is automatic.

Copyright in a work lasts for a long time, e.g.

If a work has been created as part of the employment duties of the creator, the copyright will reside with the employer unless a contract specifically states otherwise. Under EU law, an employee has certain moral rights, such as

It should be added, however, that the UK has opted to implement a restricted form of these moral rights for employees.

9.2 Copyright concessions and restrictions

Certain concessions apply to using materials in education, but only where there is a specific licensing agreement, for example the arrangements with appointed agencies that issue licences for photocopying and making off-air recordings of radio and TV broadcasts:

Recent amendments to the terms and conditions of the licences issued by the above agencies allow storage on institutional intranets, subject to certain strict conditions. Teachers should check carefully the terms of their institution's CLA and ERA licences - and all other licences relating to copyright. Licences differ considerably, according to the type of institution to which they are issued.

In addition, there are also concessions with regard to what is termed fair dealing (as it is called in the UK) or fair use (as it is called in the USA). Both terms crop up frequently in documents relating to copyright and relate mainly to the copying of materials for non-commercial private study, research, criticism or review.

Teachers should be aware that use of materials in a classroom differs from the use of digital materials on an institutional intranet or a public website. The "public" in this sense can be defined as a small sub-set of the public, such as staff and/or students in an educational institution.

Unless the original material is clearly stated to be free of copyright or if copyright on the material has expired by virtue of its age, it is illegal to download, scan or otherwise copy such material for onward distribution (termed communication to the public in legal jargon), even if no financial gain takes place. It is a common misconception to think that there is an exemption for educational usage. In most countries no such exemption applies, other than certain specific arrangements for research. Nor is it the case that because an item is in the public domain - which is often interpreted (wrongly) to apply to items published on the Web - it is totally free from copyright protection. In fact all works are protected. A work is only in the public domain and free to copy if it is specifically stated to be so.

The potential penalties for breach of copyright are draconian. A copyright owner may go to court to demand that all copies of all works in question are either destroyed or delivered to the copyright owner at the transgressor’s expense, and there are huge financial compensations which may be asked for. Ignorance of the law is never considered as an excuse, and if it could be proven that the transgressor knew that the item was in copyright and that the laws of copyright did not allow for copying, a criminal prosecution could also ensue against the person who did the copying.

The situation applies equally to the illegal copying for multiple use of a piece of software purchased for one-off usage. In almost all cases, the purchase of software implies an agreement to a licence to use it under certain restrictions, one of which will undoubtedly be for single-machine use, unless otherwise specified. Copying software for use on more than one machine at a time, where it is stated specifically that the licence only covers one machine, constitutes an illegal act.

9.3 Adaptation and derivative works

Adapting a work or creating a derivative work without the owner's permission, with or without acknowledgement, when it comprises anything other than a quotation of a small part, may well infringe the copyright and moral rights of the owner.

9.4 Linking to websites

If you intend to include a link to another website from your own website, or for example from a Word document, there is nothing in copyright law that states you need permission to do so. It is, however, common courtesy to contact the owner of a site that you wish to link to. You should always acknowledge the source of the site that you link to and make sure (i) that its full URL appears in the browser's address box, and (ii) that the linked site appears in a separate window rather than within a frame that suggests the page may belong to your own site - which could be interpreted as "passing off" the linked site as your own. Terms and conditions of use are normally published at websites of large organisations, government websites and EC websites, and they usually allow linking subject to due acknowledgement.

9.5 Implications of copyright for creating learning materials

There are obvious implications for the creators of learning materials when taking copyright into consideration. Not only do they have to ensure that they themselves have complied with the law in all respects but, given that multimedia creation is often a collaborative venture, they should also ensure that all contributors to a multimedia work guarantee in writing that they own the rights to their contribution and that they agree to indemnify the publisher if their contribution is found to be in breach of copyright.

The teacher must give careful consideration to the question of copyright when creating learning materials that are intended for distribution beyond the classroom, for example, via a Virtual Learning Environment or a publicly accessible website. If you make public any learning materials that you create you should ensure that:

If you wish, for example, to include in your learning materials any texts, images, audio recordings, video recordings or musical compositions that you have acquired from other sources you must ensure that they (i) not subject to copyright or (ii) you have permission from the copyright owner(s) to include them in your materials. This is particularly important if you wish to make your learning materials available to a wider audience, for example by uploading them to teachers' resources websites, where they will reach a wider public: see Section 6.4, Storing and sharing materials. Resources websites usually indicate that you take full responsibility for copyright infringements that may be inherent in your work. You should therefore exercise caution when uploading resources to a public website. You should also be aware that some resources websites require that you assign copyright to the website owner and you may therefore be relinquishing your statutory rights as an author. Read the terms and conditions of use of such websites very carefully.

Experience shows that seeking permission to use copyrighted materials should be done before you start to create your materials. When you seek permission you need to indicate clearly to the copyright owner where the learning materials will be published and how they will be used, and that it will be made clear to the public that they are subject to copyright. If this is done then the reaction from the copyright owner is often positive and helpful, especially if your materials are intended to be used in an educational, non-profit-making context. It is often remarked that, if a copyright owner fails to reply to a request for permission, all you have to do is to enter a statement that you have done your best to find the copyright owner. Legal opinions differ as to the wisdom of this approach, but the UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website advises that it may be possible to do this if "pains have been taken" to find the owner. However, the advice also suggests that a sum of money should be put aside to provide for payment to a copyright owner should they come forward. This is clearly a high-risk strategy!

9.6 Further information on copyright

See the General guidelines on copyright at the ICT4LT website, which offers comprehensive information on copyright in the context of teaching foreign languages in educational institutions. The ICT4LT guidelines document includes a bibliography and numerous links to websites offering further information. See also the website of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

10. Case studies

Three distinct and different case studies provided by UK schools are described in Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website, Managing a multimedia language centre:

Each of the above schools has provided the ICT4LT website with a detailed case study of its activities in the area of MFL/ICT. The full case studies are not included in this document, as they are available at the ICT4LT website, where they are regularly updated. Only a summary of each case study is therefore given here. Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website also includes case studies provided by two European universities.

10.1 Cox Green School, Maidenhead

Cox Green Comprehensive School is a state comprehensive school that has succeeded in attracting external funding from a local business in order to finance its multimedia language centre. The language centre at Cox Green School shows what can be done under energetic and enthusiastic leadership. Richard Hamilton, former Head of the Modern Foreign Languages Department (now retired), is virtually a "one-man-band", a language teacher turned ICT expert. He has managed to convince less than enthusiastic staff of the advantages of using ICT as an integral part of their teaching.

The students at Cox Green School use the language centre both as part of their regular weekly class-contact hours and as a self-access centre. Integration is the watchword: the work carried out in the language centre is tied in closely with the work done in the "normal" MFL classroom. Richard Hamilton has opted for a battery of stand-alone computers as he lacks the time and expertise to manage a network, and technical support for a network is not forthcoming from other quarters. He also makes extensive use of his students' ICT skills, involving them in setting up new hardware and software and in the day-to-day management of the centre’s resources. The software that is used in the centre cannot be classed as "leading edge". The emphasis is on content rather than the delivery medium: a large volume of materials has been developed in-house and slotted into a small number of authoring packages.

Richard Hamilton puts forward a very convincing argument for the use of ICT in MFL, namely: the school's A*-C GCSE results in MFL went up by 15% over a period of three years following the introduction of regular classes in the multimedia suite.

10.2 St George's Academy, Sleacombe

St George's Academy was equipped with a prestigious language centre, The Brealey Centre, in 1985, thanks to a generous donation from a businessman who had been a student at the school. The Brealey Centre at St George's is an example of the "high-tech" approach to the use of ICT in MFL. In contrast to Cox Green's centre, networking within St George's and to the outside world is a significant feature of The Brealey Centre. The school enjoys fast connections to the outside world and makes extensive use of the Internet.

10.3 The Ashcombe School, Dorking

The Ashcombe School is committed to promoting languages as a subject discipline throughout the school. It enjoys a high level of technical support. The Ashcombe School demonstrates that a strong commitment to ICT, tight management, technician support, and recognition of the need for staff training are the recipe for success. It has a well-developed website, which enables it to share its knowledge and experience with other schools. Students have regular classes in its two MFL/ICT multimedia labs, so access is regular and integrated into the language teaching programmes as a whole.

The Ashcombe School focuses especially on the use of ICT to enhance speaking and listening skills and, to a lesser extent, reading and writing skills. It is felt that, although there are many text-based activities that can enhance the development of reading and writing skills, these do not exploit the power of the multimedia computer. Staff believe that the most efficient and effective use of the multimedia suites is to exploit the computer’s capability to present and reinforce listening and speaking and can point to significant improvements in pupils' development of these skills.


Atkinson T. (2001) Reflections on ICT, London: CILT.

Atkinson T. (2002, 2nd edition) WWW: the Internet in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom, London: CILT.

BECTA (2002) ImpaCT2: The impact of Information and Communication Technologies on pupil learning and attainment, Coventry, BECTA.

Buckland D. (2000) Putting achievement first: managing and leading ICT in the MFL department, London: CILT.

Casey J. (2004) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in networked e-learning: a beginners guide for content developers, JISC Legal Information Service:

Davies G. (1997) "Lessons from the past, lessons for the future: 20 years of CALL". In Korsvold A-K. & Rüschoff B. (eds.) New technologies in language learning and teaching, Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Regularly updated version available from:

Davies G. (2003a) "ICT and modern foreign languages: learning opportunities and training needs", Scottish Languages Review 8, June 2003, Scottish CILT.

Davies G. (2003b) "Perspectives on online training initiatives". In Felix U. (ed.) Language learning online: towards best practice, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger (now taken over by Taylor & Francis).

Davies G. (2004) Dodgy links: a warning to all webmasters maintaining lists of links to external sites:

Dugard C. & Hewer S. (2003) Impact on learning: what ICT can bring to MFL in KS3, London: CILT.

Ely P. (1984) Bring the lab back to life, Oxford: Pergamon.

Felix U. (ed.) (2003) Language learning online: towards best practice, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger (now taken over by Taylor & Francis).

Fitzpatrick A. & Davies G. (eds.) (2003) The impact of Information and Communications Technologies on the teaching of foreign languages and on the role of teachers of foreign languages, Frankfurt: ICC.

Gläsmann S. (2004) Communicating online, London: CILT.

Hewer S. (1997) Text manipulation: computer-based activities to improve knowledge and use of the target language, London: CILT.

Hill B. (1999) Video in language learning, London: CILT.

Littlemore J. (2002) "Setting up a course in ICT for language teachers: some essential considerations", CALL-EJ Online 4, 1.

Mayes T. (2001) "Learning technology and learning relationships". In Stephenson J. (ed.) Teaching and learning online: pedagogies for new technologies, London: Kogan Page.

Oppenheim C. (2004): Recent changes to copyright law and the implications for FE and HE, JISC Legal Information Service.

Oppenheimer T. (1997) "The computer delusion", The Atlantic Monthly 280, 1, 45–62:

Slater P. & Varney-Burch S. (2001) Multimedia in language learning, London: CILT.

Stephenson J. (ed.) (2001) Teaching and learning online: pedagogies for new technologies, London: Kogan Page.

Toner G. et al. (2008) Multimedia language learning in higher education in the UK, CETL Survey in Partnership with LLAS. Coleraine: University of Ulster.

Townshend K. (1997) Email: using electronic communications in foreign language teaching, London: CILT.

Vogel T. (2001) "Learning out of control: some thoughts on the World Wide Web in learning and teaching foreign languages". In Chambers A. & Davies G. (eds.) Information and Communications Technologies in language learning: a European perspective. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger (now taken over by Taylor & Francis).

Web links

Adobe: Producer of a wide range of image-, audio- and video-editing products.

ALL (Association for Language Learning)

The Ashcombe School: MFL pages - free resources and software reviews.

Audacity: Audio editing software (freeware).

BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency): The Council for Educational Technology (CET), a forerunner of the British Educational and Communications Technology Agency (BECTA), began to be active in the area of Modern Foreign Languages/ICT in the late 1970s. In 1981 the CET joined forces with CILT in the organisation of the first major conference focusing on Modern Foreign Languages/ICT. In the same year the Microelectronics Education Programme (MEP) was launched under the auspices of the CET, leading to the establishment of a network of support centres and teams of advisory teachers responsible for offering advice and training in a range of different subject areas, including Modern Foreign Languages, for primary and secondary education teachers. A number of Modern Foreign Languages software packages and Modern Foreign Languages/ICT printed publications were produced under the MEP initiative. A national centre, the Microelectronics Education Support Unit (MESU), was then set up as a successor to the CET. The MESU was renamed the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET), to be renamed yet again (in 2000) as BECTA. BECTA was finally closed down by the UK government in January 2011.

Blackboard: A Virtual Learning Environment.

Centre for Excellence in Multimedia Language Learning (CEMLL), University of Ulster: Based in the School of Languages and Literature at the University of Ulster, the focus of the Centre is to research the use of computer-based multimedia teaching facilities and develop appropriate teaching methods. The Centre's approach to multimedia language learning is to integrate use of digital technology in class to promote active engagement and to support dynamic intervention.

Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)

Corel: Producer of image creation and editing software.

CILT: Centre for Information on Language Teaching, The National Centre for Languages.

Educational Recording Agency (ERA).

Eudora: An email software package.

EUROCALL: A professional association, established in 1993, devoted to the promotion of new technologies in language learning and teaching. EUROCALL maintains a website containing useful information and resources, and an electronic discussion list where both members and non-members can raise questions and discuss topics of current interest. EUROCALL organises an annual international conference. There are many similar associations worldwide: see the Resource Centre at the ICT4LT website under the heading Professional associations.

Graham Davies's Favourite Websites: A categorised, annotated list of over 500 language-related websites, many of which offer free resources for language teaching and learning languages. The list is updated every week.

Fun with Texts: A popular text manipulation authoring package by Camsoft. See Hewer (1997) on text manipulation and Section 8, Module 1.4, at the ICT4LT wesbite.

Hot Potatoes: A free suite of Web authoring tools for language teachers, written by Martin Holmes and Stewart Arneil at the University of Victoria, Canada. Using these tools the teacher can create different types of Web exercises in Windows or Mac format, e.g. multiple-choice quizzes, jumbled sentences, short-answer questions, gap-fill exercises and crosswords. A library of Clipart for use with Hot Potatoes and other authoring tools is also available at the University of Victoria site.

ICT4LT (ICT for Language Teachers): The ICT4LT website was initially created in 1999-2000 as a set of ICT training resources for language teachers with the aid of funding under the Socrates Programme of the Directorate for Education and Culture at the European Commission. The site currently consists of a total of 16 discrete modules at three different levels and has proved extremely popular both with practising language teachers and with teachers undergoing initial teacher training in university departments of education. The website includes a substantial Glossary of ICT Terminology and a Resource Centre containing a CALL bibliography and over 1000 links to other sites. The site is linked with the ICT4LT blog. Access to the ICT4LT website and blog is free of charge. The website is updated every week by Graham Davies.

Intellectual Property Office (IPO): A UK government website, covering a wide variety of answers to questions relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Copyright, Designs, Patents and Trade Marks.

Lingu@NET Forum: A lively discussion list for language teachers.

LView Pro: Image editing software.

MALTED (Multimedia Authoring for Language Teaching and Educational Development): A free multimedia authoring program, the outcome of a project funded under the Educational Multimedia Taskforce initiative of the European Commission. MALTED consists of a set of authoring tools for developing multimedia courseware for language learners. It was initiated by the Language Centre, University College London. The package has widely trialled in Spanish schools and is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education, but it has not been widely used in the UK.

MFL Resources: A large set of free downloadable resources for teachers of Modern Foreign Languages. There is also an associated discussion list: The corresponding MFL Resources forum can be found at Yahoo Groups.

MFL Sunderland: Lots of useful downloadable resources and information here and links to other useful sites. Created and maintained by Clare Seccombe.

Moodle: A Virtual Learning Environment - open source and free to download. Moodle has its own language teaching community - log in as a guest or register as a regular user.

National Learning Network (NLN): Materials for the post-16 sector. Many of these materials are designed to be integrated easily into VLEs such as Moodle, for example.

Painter: Digital painting software by Corel.

PaintShop Photo Pro: Photo editing software by Corel.

Pinnacle Systems: Poducer of video editing software.

Schoolzone: Software evaluations and other services.

Tandem Learning: Website for finding tandem learning partners, maintained by the University of Bochum.

TaskMagic: Authoring software by mdlsoft.

TEEM: Software evaluations.

Wida Software: Producer of CALL software, notably The Authoring Suite, a popular authoring program.

YouTube: A free social networking site where anyone can view and post videos.

Copyright © 2005 CILT, The National Centre for Languages, and the Association for Language Learning. This revised version has not been formally approved by CILT/ALL.