MYLO was used in our dedicated languages/ICT suite by 4 different members of staff and a range of classes including Y7, 8 and 9 in French and Spanish.
This turned out to be the most unexpected hurdle for us, with the word “trial” being turned into “trail” on a regular basis and students getting frustrated as they were refused access. The case-sensitive password also challenged some of our students, although all students were relieved when told that they would not have to log in once MYLO is out the pilot phase.
School and learner accounts
Our school does not set up school student emails, so we had to trust students to put in a personal email to set up their learner account. The problem is that students had then to be trusted again to remember to verify the address from home-far too convoluted for too many students, although many got really excited at the prospect of appearing on the Leader Board. This also meant that the class teacher had very limited ways to record the work done during the session.
Y7 students were introduced to the basics tasks and enjoyed the element of choice given to them. They generally found the activities very engaging, particularly the listening activities, which I found positive as students often dislike whole-class listening activities. As the listening tasks were non-threatening, actually supported reading in the foreign languages and completed at their own pace, students could see how listening was a help rather than something that felt like a difficult test. Some Y7 also asked if they could try the extended tasks, the “challenges” or even have a go at another language. A lot of the Y7-Y9 students who tried the basics in a different language often chose Chinese and really enjoyed the experience.
Students really enjoyed the wide range of activities designed to prepare them for the challenge However, a lot of them were put off by the simplicity of the tools provided by MYLO to produce the final outcome: football kit design, bilingual menu or character for a video game. Maybe links to free web 2.0 tools could help keep the wow factor until the end of the challenge or the tools left entirely up to the teacher, with the facility for the teacher to upload a selection of student work back onto MYLO. I suspect the reaction of the students will depend on their exposure to different ICT tools in different subjects as well as the quality of the school ICT facilities, filtering policies and staff confidence in making best use of ICT.
Layout of the site
Although students learned to get around the website very quickly, their attention had to be drawn to specific features at the bottom of the page like the phrase book, dictionary, videos and cultural references. They also often failed to spot the tools to complete the challenge as they needed to scroll to the right to locate them. Maybe an introductory video tour of the website could help with this.
There is a real need for a site like MYLO to develop students’ linguistic independence, awareness and to give languages a higher profile nationally. As the DCSF has now changed to the Department for Education, my hope is that it will still be seen as a high priority on the educational agenda...