With so many language learning resources and apps available online and students walking around with portable devices and laptops, the need for a “language lab” and/or a “language resource room” may seem almost superfluous. But actually, if daily use is any indication, there still remains a significant and pressing need for these spaces and for the services (and opportunities) they provide.
Accepting bookings from all Modern Language, academic English as a Second Language, and French classes, these rooms receive considerable use during the academic year and booking is quite competitive.
Our PC lab (SP 332) is the smaller of the two, but is set up very well for communicative language learning. It has 21 computers arranged around the outside of the room with an additional 10 in a small island toward the middle. Two additional circular tables provide “pull-out” opportunities for instructors to work individually with student groups and all computers have headsets with microphones for listening and recording.
French classes also use Antidote, a popular French-specific editing tool installed on all machines.
The neighbouring iMac lab (SP 349) is primarily used by classes in our rapidly growing American Sign Language program. With so much of ASL conveyed through movement, expression, and directionality, a standard written quiz is not the most effective way to assess proficiency. Instead, students use installed software to complete short video quizzes every few weeks. During these quizzes, students pair up with one partner on each side of the computer and respond to a quiz prompt provided by the instructor. Students are recorded via a HD video camera mounted on each computer and the recording submitted to the instructor through the room’s network for assessment and feedback.
Of course, other language classes also use the room. In addition to the ASL recording tools, the computers have an extensive collection of Apps with tools for practicing Pinyin, learning Mah Jong, studying Spanish, Italian, or Russian, and more. And again, each computer is equipped with its own headset/microphone.
As its name implies, the Language Resource Room (SP 337) is home to a large collection of books and other resources intended to support students’ language learning. These include:
- grammar, learning strategy, writing skill, and university success books (primarily for ESLA students)
- a large collection of Spanish novels
- children’s books and graphic novels in other languages (e.g. Tintin, Lucky Luke, Asterix…)
- Manga books
- and more…
Also noteworthy is our large collection of ESL textbooks dating back to the mid 1900s. While the newer books are used by academic ESL students, the older books are used by students in the CTESL or graduate program who are studying curriculum design and language teaching pedagogy/methodology.
Of equal and perhaps greater importance to the books, is the room itself and the people who use it.
The LRR is a gathering place for language learners and the importance of having such a dedicated space cannot be underestimated. In addition to the formal gatherings we arrange (e.g. movie nights, conversation clubs, language exchange partners), the room is also the focal point of a growing number of informal meetings. Sometimes these meetings are arranged by student volunteers donating their time through the Co-Curricular Record program, but other times they just spring up on the spur of the moment; and these meetings do a great deal to set the tone of the room, to foster a sense of belonging, and the define its sense of shared purpose.
And while we’re speaking of people, we’d be remiss not to mention the dynamic and enthusiastic work study students who staff our front desk. In addition to maintaining the general orderliness of the room, these students are responsible for:
- signing in and out books
- close-captioning a growing collection of online videos
- organizing various events/activities
- tracking language/cultural events both on campus and in the wider community and promoting them via our physical bulletin board and various social media
- and more…
And yet one cannot argue that learning in one fixed location is trending down as more content, conversations and community become available online. With this in mind, the LRR is also growing its web presence through the use of its Carleton website, Facebook, and Twitter. Visit (and connect with) us online to learn more: