Tuesday 3 February 2015

BETT2015 Survey Results

Once again, this year we conducted our teacher survey and everyone that responded took part in our prize draw. We had 17 language professionals respond to our questions, but only one of them won the prize. Read on to find more about the results, both aggregated findings and winner of the prize.

Out of our 17 respondents, five were not teachers, but people that use foreign languages professionally. Among the ones that responded we had teachers that give private tuition and ones that annually work with multiple classes. There were representatives from both secondary education and language academies, teaching both EFL (English as a foreign language) and MFL (modern foreign languages). Typically when they teach more advanced levels the preferred language of instruction is the language being taught.

The first actual part of our survey addressed what current practices do teachers and language professionals engage in. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that close to all of our respondents regularly use online dictionaries. After all this was part of the opportunity that we seized when we started working on Lexicum in the first place. Half of our respondents use some equivalent of a vocabulary quiz as a tool to help vocabulary memorisation. To some this low popularity of the technique might come as a surprise. After all, this is one of the most established way to memorise something. Part of our quest at Lexicum is to popularise such good practices and make them accessible to everyone. Again, close to half of our survey respondents use tools that allow them to hear how vocabulary is being pronounced, a source of useful guidance on what would be correct pronunciation. Other personalisation features like user-specified translations and examples, or gamification through scores and badges are not widespread. Less than 20% regularly use their personalised vocabulary books, and 30% often use scores as a way to measure performance. We suspect that this might have to do with the fact that they are not widely accessible in traditional classrooms.

The second part of our survey was about the outlooks of the direction that language learning with technologies could go into. All participants in our survey were in accord about the future of language learning being mobile. More than 60% of our respondents rated learning on mobile as extremely important. Again, this proves the validity of our approach – carrying over vocabulary to mobile. There was also good reception of the new concept that we recently introduced – sharing word lists. Other proposed techniques like interaction of social networks and teacher-functionality to track students were not as popular. Only 30% of our respondents considered that very or extremely important. The least popular ideas seem to be the ones that also have to do with sharing, but are less structured, so were difficult for respondents to conceive. In response to that, we will now put some further effort in explaining creative ways people could use Lexicum.

A big topic in our current research is what content would be worthwhile to share. This is both from the perspectives of how useful this sharing is for the learning experience, and how attractive it is. Lexicum now features ways of share particular words via social networks or link exchange. Users can privately send lists to each-other and play games like word ladder, rhymes or word egg. Speaking of word games, this was what the last part of our survey was about. A number of games have been suggested by the experts we surveyed. Here are a few popular word games you might remember playing in some form: Word associations, Word egg, Word ladder, Hangman, Anagrams and No vowels. Another intriguing one that some might find challenging is Animal, Vegetable or Mineral. Some digital tools got also mentioned, notably DuoLingo, Kahoot, Words with friends and Scrabble. Our favourite, suggested by a few people was making rhymes and singing. Many people find this to be a really entertaining way to learn languages.

Finally, the winner from the prize draw. We put all 17 usernames (part of the e-mails that all participants provided) in a bow and had our colleague Paul from Playbrush pick the winner. And Paul's mighty hand picked subebo91. Congratulations to the winner! We will get in touch with everyone that took part in our survey to tell them the result.

And don't forget, if you have your own ideas about the future of Lexicum, you can always share and discuss them on our community platform. We would highly appreciate your engagement.