Share Your Language
06 May 2015
by evan

Teacher Spotlight – Lyme Old Lyme Public High School Latin, Lance Piantaggini

We’re pleased to launch “Colango teacher spotlight,” a new blog series that features a Colango teacher! If you are interested in being featured, please send a note to

I’d like to introduce Lance Piantaggini! Lance Piantaggini is a 9th-12th grade Latin teacher teaching at Lyme Old Lyme Public High School in Connecticut, USA.

Why did you start using Colango?
I was looking for a streamlined learning network specifically for language learning, and finally found something!

Tell us how you integrated Colango into your classroom. Are there any interesting projects or examples you’d like to share?
I used Colango to keep students engaged in the target language at home, as well as provide additional support they could access on their own time. While most homework tends to be product-based, Colango allows my students to receive more understandable messages outside of class, which we know leads to deeper acquisition of the target language.

Do you have any other information you want to share?
Unlike some other learning networks, Colango reports make it easy to identify students who complete assignments and their challenges.

What’s your favorite thing about Colango?
The ability to create dictation activities even if videos lack subtitles.


Why kids hate learning new vocabulary and 5 ways to make it fun again!

We think with words, therefore to improve thinking, teach vocabulary. — A. Draper and G. Moeller

I remember my Middle school Spanish teacher would assign us 25 new words to memorize at the beginning of every week.  For homework, we’d look up the definition of each word and write it down.  I HATED it.  It wasn’t because it was particularly difficult or time consuming, it was because the delivery of the lesson was just so boring to me!  Every new word forced upon me was met with “why do I have to know ________”.  None of these words had any contextual relationship behind it.  Context is part of the core foundation of acquiring new vocabulary words.

So how can we apply these concepts to getting students to learn new vocabulary?  Fret not, here are 5 fun games that will help your students build context around new words –



1.  Vocabulary bingo

Students can make their own bingo cards and place the new foreign language words they learned on the card.  The teacher reads out the english (native language) word and students find the word in their target language.  If the students have the word, they can color in the box on their cards where it exists.

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2.  Vocabulary charades

Divide your students into groups and have them act out new word definitions to the best of their ability.  Another fun game could be to have students act out words in short skits for their peers to guess.  These games can be lots of fun and are sure to create lots of laughs as they learn new words.





3.  Short stories

More advanced students can write a short skit of story using words they’ve been trying to learn.  This can be a great project that progresses throughout the school year.  It’d be more fun than having a final exam and students are sure to feel accomplished when they see how much they’ve progressed through the year.



4. Write a poem

This project will really help students get creative with each other!  Assign students one word each and have them write poems in context of the definition of the new word.  After each student has written their poem, they can share it with the rest of the class!



5.  Vocabulary detective

Write the vocabulary words they are learning on an index card.  Insert yarn through the card so students can wear it around their neck.  Each student has one card that they wear over their back.  Students walk around giving clues to other people so that they have to guess the word that’s on their card.

Share what kind of fun activities you do in your classroom in the comments below.


27 Apr 2015
by evan

Teacher Spotlight – Yongsan International School of Seoul, Sylvain Vachon- French

We’re pleased to launch “Colango teacher spotlight,” a new blog series that features a Colango teacher! If you are interested in being featured, please send a note to

I’d like to introduce Sylvain Vachon! Sylvain is a High School French teacher at Yongsan International School in Seoul, South KR.

Why did you start using Colango?

It allowed me to make my course portable, and it allowed my students to record themselves speaking the language outside of class. Colango’s recording app is far superior to anything I was using on our current LMS.

Tell us how you integrated Colango into your classroom. Are there any interesting projects or examples you’d like to share?

My flipped classroom is designed to have students listen and speak French both in class and at home. I’ve uploaded several recordings that prompted students to speak by either repeating what they’ve heard, or to respond to questions in the recording. I can then listen to how well they’ve understood their prompts, and to how they discriminate the sounds of the language. Given the impossibility of immersion in Seoul, students are now speaking the language every day in and out of class, making them more fluent and keeping them engaged in various contexts.

How do you think Colango has helped you as a teacher?

It’s allowed me to extend the time in which students speak French to after school hours all the while keeping track of their progress.

What advice do you have for new Colango teachers?

Colango is easy to set-up and once you see your students speaking you’ll love it!

Do you have any other information you want to share?

I am pleased with Colango’s development and the improvements they’ve put forth. Their staff respond quickly to inquiries/requests.

What’s your favorite thing about Colango?

That my class is portable and does not require a desk at which my students must work, that its recording apparatus is high quality, that it allows me to capitalise on my students’ most popular use of technology (smartphones), and that it tracks user data.

What effect has using Colango had on your students/classroom?

They speak the language more than they would otherwise.

27 Apr 2015
by evan

Teacher Spotlight – Yongsan International School of Seoul, Angela Ye- Chinese

We’re pleased to launch “Colango teacher spotlight,” a new blog series that features a Colango teacher! If you are interested in being featured, please send a note to

I’d like to introduce Angela Ye! Angela is a High School Chinese teacher at Yongsan International School in Seoul, South KR.

Why did you start using Colango?

I wanted an easy way to give students speaking and listening homework.  I’m so glad I found Colango because now I can get my students speaking more often, even outside of the classroom!

Tell us how you integrated Colango into your classroom. Are there any interesting projects or examples you’d like to share?

There’s lots of different activities I can use Colango for. For example, I can upload audio files and leave listening assignments; I can share youtube videos and ask students to answer questions by voice recording; I can even give topics and ask students to write short passages.  It’s really opened the type of homework assignments I can give my students!

How do you think Colango has helped you as a teacher?

I think Colango helped me to give more creative homework.  Before, I couldn’t give listening and speaking assignments but now I can with Colango.  I think Colango has also helped reduced the amount of time students have to spend on their homework.

What advice do you have for new Colango teachers?

I was a little worried about learning new technology at first but Colango was really simple and easy to use!  Just give it a try and you will like it!

What’s your favorite thing about Colango?

I like the voice recording feature the best.

What effect has using Colango had on your students/classroom?

Students can finish their homework faster and enjoy it more.  There is much less late homework than before. 

27 Apr 2015
by evan

Teacher Spotlight- The Bolsover School, Mr. M Drury MFL

We’re pleased to launch “Colango teacher spotlight,” a new blog series that features a Colango teacher! If you are interested in being featured, please send a note to

I’d like to kick off our first spotlight with Mr. M Drury.  Mr. Drury teaches French, German and Spanish at The Bolsover School in Derbyshire, UK!

Why did you start using Colango?

We started using Colango because we wanted a reliable, cross-platform interface for sharing audio and offering fast, convenient feedback to our language learners.

Tell us how you integrated Colango into your classroom. Are there any interesting projects or examples you’d like to share?

I’ve given many tasks, often homework, during which pupils are expected to watch and listen to native speakers on an embedded YouTube clip, answer multiple choice questions, listen to audio recorded by me. I’ve asked them to record their own voice, sometimes provide written answers, undertake dictation exercises and, crucially, it’s very obvious and straightforward to get them to heed feedback (a big deal on the education agenda for us here in the UK).

How do you think Colango has helped you as a teacher?

It’s made me more flexible and encouraged me to try new technology. I’m so glad I did. It’s always nerve-wracking as you don’t want it to go wrong and wreck your lesson and destroy relationships when things get frustrating for the kids, but Colango offers so many rewards that are otherwise hard to come by.

What advice do you have for new Colango teachers?

Do the initial set up in class, with the pupils in front of you – choosing a username, following the teacher, getting them in the right group. Do a test with a sample group just to iron out any creases in your technology provision – I had some laptops with damaged microphones which can be a hurdle. Best to know these things in advance before you go all formal and en masse.

Do you have any other information you want to share?

If you haven’t really delved into using Colango then you’re missing out in a big way! I don’t want to be without it now. I can’t wait until my pupils are a bit more experienced at it – when they can do the simple things quickly this will be an outstanding learning tool.

What’s your favorite thing about Colango?

Out of all the things I love about Colango (there are several) I love the customer service – my suggestions are actively sought and heeded and done so quickly. That’s very important – the tool has to work for the teacher when I teach around 180 different pupils.

What effect has using Colango had on your students/classroom?

They’re more proactive speakers and that’s only going to become even more the case as we develop. It’s less of a big deal for them to record their own voices and, more importantly, reflect upon what they’re recorded.

27 Apr 2015
by evan

Colango just got a whole lot better and you’re invited to try!

Teachers asked and we listened.  Colango Premium is here and you’re invited to try for free!  So what’s new with this release of Colango?  We’re glad you asked!

Colango reports

Understand your students better with Colango reports.  We added a reports page to help you get an in-depth picture to how your students are interacting with your studyposts.  Our reports track student comment activity, studypost views and dictation errors.

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Need a big picture view of how your class is doing?  Just click students to see a snapshot over a period of time of how all your students are performing in class.


Archive studypost

Want to save your studyposts for next year?  Just archive them so they are hidden from your student’s feed and unarchive them when you want your students to see them!

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Copy studypost

You can now duplicate and edit studyposts you’ve created to share them with other people.  Just select copy from the dropdown, make any edits you want and post!

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These new features should make Colango even easier to use with your class!  For a limited period of time, we’re giving away free Colango premium accounts!

Simply enter “colangovip2015” to sign up and you will be upgraded to Colango premium for free!  If you know other language teachers interested in creating interactive language lessons for their students, please share the code with them!




19 Apr 2015
by evan

Why We Love Speaking Exercises (And You Should, Too!)

Speaking is an important piece of second language acquisition but for many years teaching speaking has been time consuming and very difficult.  The goal of every student when taking a world language class is to one day be able to carry a conversation with a native speaker.  I’ve definitely dreamed of going to China and being able to freely conversate with anyone on the street.  So how can we help our students achieve this goal?  It’s important to teach speaking in a way that should not only improve student’s communication skills but also how they can learn to follow the social and cultural rules in each specific circumstance.  Many teachers have continued to try to teach speaking through repetition drills or dialogue memorization without realizing results.  So how do we achieve this?

When designing speaking exercises it’s important to make them authentic, varied and engaging.

1.  Make them authentic.


Speaking exercises should be as authentic as possible.  This can be achieved through using authentic content to when teaching. When learners are exposed to authentic content they feel they are learning the ‘real’ language.  Authentic content is a great way to expose students to culture while learning language!  Check out this blog post on why authentic content rocks!

2.  Make them varied.

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Repetition is very important when learning foreign languages.  Sometimes it can make sense to spend a few weeks on a particular concept, however this doesn’t mean there’s no room for creativity!  You can use many different activities for one concept, this helps keep your students fresh and excited to learn.  There’s so many great blogs and resources on the internet to help you get creative and find something that will fit your class.

3.  Make them engaging.


Speaking exercises have to be fun enough to make the students want to spend time engaging with them.  Engaging assignments helps keep motivation up in the classroom even when they are tackling difficult language concepts.  The excitement you have for introducing a new activity will be contagious and make your students more excited as well!  Make your speaking exercises exciting and have fun with them!

With these three concepts in mind, the goal should be to try to reduce your own speaking time in class while increasing student speaking time.  If you want more ideas on how to create fun speaking assignments for your students check out our post next week on great in-class and out-of-class speaking activities.





30 Mar 2015
by evan

5 Reasons why you should go paperless!

You’ve probably heard the term paperless classroom multiple times now.  So what exactly is a paperless classroom?  A paperless classroom is a system of digital tools when used in combination reduces the amount of paper used.  If successful this integration of technology in your classroom will help eliminate the purpose of paper as well as manage an effective workflow. Students will be able to access their study materials, homework and grades through the internet!  Beyond environmental savings, here are 5 major advantages of transitioning to a paperless classroom!

1.  Improved Learning Environment 

Implementing digital tools in your classroom can offer an improved learning environment for your students namely by providing you with a better understanding of your students’ knowledge gaps.  There are many tools on the market today that can help teachers evaluate student knowledge with in-depth metrics or data reports!  These tools can provide you with the information you need to help discover student problems before they fossilize.

For example, Colango offers you the ability to quickly create a listening or speaking assignments to help guide your instruction! Perhaps you notice your students are having problems with a certain sound or phoneme set, you can quickly create a tongue twister exercise to help them practice! Here’s a great post with some tongue twister examples.

Digital tools offer a way to give fun activities or assignments. Drill and kill is the old way, digital tools empower you to create engaging exercises that can focus on specific language skills you want your students to improve on.

2.  Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning is centered on communication and students learning together. Collaborative learning is even more powerful now that it can include in-class and out-of-class activities due to mobile devices. In addition, it’s now even easier to collaborate with other classes around the world. Using tools like Skype in the Classroom or Google hangouts can be great ways to establish a language exchange with other classrooms!

3.  Better organization & Increased productivity

A paperless classroom can help you become more organized! There are many tools that allow you to easily distribute assignments, resources and instructions to your students with a push of a button. When your students submit homework everything is stored in one place. No more carrying around loads of files or taking home stacks of papers to grade. Best of all your students no longer have to carry around bulky backpacks filled with binders or textbooks! All their assignments are easily accessible on their computer or mobile device.

With better organization comes increased productivity! It’s always nice to be able to maximize classroom minutes and create a better workflow. A good workflow where assignments can be distributed, completed, graded and returned can allow you to take back priceless minutes in the classroom.  Now you can focus on what you do best- teaching!

4.  Access to a variety of content

The internet is a great resource for finding content to base your lessons off of. Language teaching with authentic content is a great way to engage your advanced students. There’s so much great content on the internet such as Youtube videos, articles, tv shows and even music. Being able to use this content and build assignments off of them can be a great way to engage your students. Here’s some ideas how you can use Colango and authentic content.

Many digital tools also facilitate the creation of unique content for your class. This way you can create unique class assignments that perfectly fits your own class structure and curriculum. You don’t have to be reliant only on assignments from textbooks. For example, with Colango you can quickly make speaking assignments on a variety of topics for your students. Save these assignments and reuse them in the future for other classes!

5.  Develop student technology skills

By implementing paperless in your class you also help your students develop technology skills early on.  Skills such as technological know-how and peer collaboration are crucial in the modern world.  With enough classes switching to a paperless system the need for computer classes could be obsolete in the future.

While we’ve mentioned some great advantages of transitioning to a paperless classroom we also acknowledge it can be difficult depending on your class’s individual resources. Resources such as technology, Internet bandwidth speed and lack of finances can all be major constraints to achieving a paperless classroom. In the end, it’s important to look at all your needs to best decide if a paperless classroom is for you. If you do decide to go this route, stay tuned for our next post on 5 tips on preparing for a paperless classroom. 


The magic of minimal pairs!

Minimal pairs is a great way to test your student’s listening ability.  “Minimal pairs” means to two words which have different meanings but are different in one sound segment only.  The particular minimal pair difficulty depends on what native language the student speaks.  For example- Japanese students may have a hard time with “hat” v. “fat” because there is no “f” sound in Japanese.  A French student may have difficulty with “eel” v. “heel” because the French language lacks a “h” sound.

Minimal pairs are important because it can lead to impaired understanding and hamper conversation skills further down the road.  To best solve the problem it’s important to realize the difference between student’s L1 and L2 to learn the most common minimal pairs students have difficulty with.  Once you know which minimal pairs to attack, it’s time to use Colango!

Let’s take a look at how Jan uses minimal pairs to help his Korean students learn english –

There is no “F” or “V” sound in the Korean language.  Jan knows this and chose a minimal pairs video from Youtube focused on words with these sounds –


After reviewing these sounds with his students, Jan removes the helper video and creates another exercise with just sound and text.


Jan instructs his students to listen to the audio and then complete the dictation exercise.  Using Colango reports Jan can see how many errors each student has!  This tells him which student needs more help on these minimal pairs.

If you want to check out Jan’s minimum pairs posts click here – With Video and Without Video.  Here’s an excellent example for Korean minimum pairs.

All posts on Colango can be saved for future use with future classes or shared with other teachers!  Interested in using Colango in your class?  Contact me!



3 Language exercises your students will love!

Learning a new language is often difficult and challenging for students.  It can also be tough to find time to fit in fun language activities in the demanding schedule of a daily classroom.  That’s why Colango is here to supercharge your language classroom with fun activities that engage your students even outside of class.  We think your students will love these 3 fun activities!

1.  Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are a fun way for students to practice their pronunciation skills!  Depending on the tongue twister you choose it can help students drill certain related phonemes or sounds.  A tongue twister is a great way to help students focus on the minor mouth changes required to pronounce certain words.

Read more about the power of tongue twisters and Colango here.

2.  Role playing games
Role playing games is another fun exercise to play with your students.  Role playing games can help students deal with familiar situations in their new target language.  These games can make language learning fun, reduce inhibitions when speaking and can inspire cultural understanding by forcing students to think differently depending on the scenario.  Read more about Role playing games with Colango here.

3.  Blogging
Blogging can be another creative way to engage your students.  Encourage your students to create their own blog posts in their target language or have them follow your blog posts.  Audio blog posts are especially easy to create with the Colango android application.  Just record your voice and post!  Read more about using authentic content with your class here.

What classroom activities do your students love?

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