Alyson Essex, 17, a Winter Haven High School junior, uses headphones to connect with her partner in the school's language lab.
Photo PAUL CRATE | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
By Merissa Green THE LEDGER Published: Monday, May 7, 2012 at 9:28 p.m.
WINTER HAVEN | Foreign language has gone high tech at Winter Haven High School.
It is the first school in the Polk County School District to have a technology-based world language lab.
The four world language teachers have 120 students each. The students are taught Spanish, French or German. The lab includes a projector, a foreign language system and headsets that are lowered to students from an electronic tray from the ceiling.
The headphones tune out noises and the students can either hear their teacher or a student they are paired up with for exercises from the teacher's laptop. As they participate in exercises, students are recorded so teachers can evaluate their responses. The system allows individual study of pronunciation, grammar and comprehension through the digital device, said Mary Thomson-Marin, chair of the foreign language lab.
"They really feel like they are getting personal attention," she said of the students.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week to celebrate the lab's opening.
A pilot program using similar technology is under way at Bartow High School's International Baccalaureate, said Tamara Salgado, the district's senior curriculum coordinator of world languages.
Joseph Martin, Winter Haven High's French teacher, said the electronic system will allow students to hear themselves and make corrections.
"That will give the students confidence," he said. "A lot of students won't speak in public but when they're behind a microphone, it's an individual experience."