One of the biggest issues facing English teachers in China is the lack of English exposure your students have once they leave the classroom. As one of the four macro skills of language acquisition, Listening is a critical issue for our students. So how do we ensure that they are getting exposure to English? And more importantly, how do we ensure that it is authentic exposure?
Language learning apps have developed rapidly to fill this market and they do a pretty good job getting vocabulary and simple structure down. But the language they present, while correct, is often stilted and not for everyday use. They’re also full of tests and quizzes so if students are not progressing quickly enough, they will lose interest, put the phone or tablet down, and move on to something else.
This is what the team at Xianzha Yugan had in mind when they created an app that combines language learning with the student ability to control of the content they receive.
Xianzha Yugan doesn’t market itself as a traditional language learning app, it’s a social media app with language learning capabilities. Students can view a vast array of short videos, made by native English speakers from all around the world, showing English language in use in everyday contexts. Each video is subtitled, with the ability to pause videos and touch subtitles for definitions and pronunciation assistance.
The key difference with Xianzha Yugan is the AI in the background, tracking the number of times a student needs definition assistance and tailoring video feeds to the individual student. For example, your student is watching a video of someone ordering coffee and click on the word ‘barista’, the AI tracks this word and then sends videos containing the word barista, to reinforce the new word, and other videos set in coffee shop situations, to increase knowledge.
So, how can Xianzha Yugan help your students?
Here at Teacher’s House, we’ve been trialling the app with some of our adult students and in teacher training. The students are able to select their own level of difficulty and choose videos tailored to their own interests. As a teacher, I can’t talk for 15 minutes about basketball but my students can easily find 15 minutes of authentic language use specifically about basketball – they’re learning more because they can choose the topics they’re passionate about. We’ve also discovered that students are using the app as a video dictionary.
As the students are engaged into a familiar feeling app, Xianzha Yugan feels similar to Douyin, so you easily bridge the reluctance to use a ‘language learning’ app. The ability for our students to search for favorite content creators, follow and interact with them, ask questions about the videos and receive messages directly from the content creators themselves has proven to be a huge hit.
Xianzha Yugan also presents English in a wide range of accents, showing students that there is not a standard “English accent” but also increasing listening skills.
Learning is always changing, the need for teachers to find new ways to engage and excite their students is key to successful classrooms. Check out Xianzha Yugan for yourself and let us know what you and your students think.
Xianzha Yugan is available on both Apple and Android systems and easily downloaded.