Technology has come to stay and proof of that are the numerous applications being used in learning, both in and outside the classrooms. As far as language learning is concerned, apps used to create and learn vocabulary units seem extremely useful. The best example I know, as I use it with my students, is Quizlet.
Quizlet is both a website and mobile application, depending on the user’s needs, and has different accounts for students and teachers. As a teacher, it offers you the option to create classrooms and invite students to them. Inside each, you create vocabulary sets around a topic, level or grammar structure, among other possibilities. For example, a unit about expressions that contain prepositions, another connected with sports, one with adjectives for advanced students and a different one for expressions used in meetings. There is a function by which students can edit these units or create their own and then share them, if they wish so. In addition, the teacher has access to each student’s work and progress.
There are different ways of learning the units. One of them is by playing, which is highly recommended because it adds a recreational element to learning, making it more entertaining. Another option is learning with multiple choice exercises, where you have to find the correct answer. Also, you can write the word, either its definition, its translation or whatever corresponds in each case. Lastly, the new expressions can be read and listened to using flashcards.
From a pedagogical point of view, it happens to be considerably effective for various reasons. First and foremost, because if we neither study nor review vocabulary, unfortunately, it will be very difficult to remember it later. The fact that the new vocabulary is recorded in a mobile app, to which the student will have access at all times, makes it more practical and easy to study. Secondly, learn by playing or doing exercises seems by far more entertaining than memorising long lists, repeating them over and over again. Thirdly, the student can create his or her own sets or even modify existing ones, which fosters his/her autonomy as a learner and is, therefore, more effective. Last but not least, work can be collaborative, where each student contributes with what is relevant to him/her for each unit or class.
To conclude, technology is, no doubt about it, a fundamental tool in the language classroom. We should not forget, however, that it isn’t the only one and that abusing it may not bring the same results to using it complementarily, adding value to language learning.