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Akiva School goes high-tech in French instruction

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Christopher Skeete, right, the parliamentary secretary to Quebec Premier François Legault for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, attends the launch of Akiva School’s new language lab. He is joined by Rabbi Eric Grossman, right, Akiva’s head of school, and Magali Sauves, director of French studies and the lab.

Montreal’s Akiva School is bolstering its instruction in French with the introduction of a state-of-the-art language lab. Akiva says it is the first school in North America to adopt the technology.

“The Akiva Language Lab is a unique learning space that enables students to explore new languages at their own pace, in small groups, or one-on-one with the teacher, using an interactive computer-based platform,” Cindy Warren, Akiva’s assistant head of school for advancement, explained in a press release.

The technology in the lab also has a portable component, so that students can bring interactive language learning home, increasing the opportunities for practising the language.

“Research tells us that the only way to truly learn a language effectively is through immersion and practice. Statistically, in a traditional classroom setting, each student speaks for less than 20 seconds for every hour of class time,” Warren stated.

“Using the Language Lab, students can speak concurrently and advance their oral language skills in an engaging way that tailors to their needs and passions.…

“The Language Lab features a unique French online program designed by the school’s French educators, which follows standard curriculum requirements while increasing students’ immersion in oral exercises and exposure to Quebec culture.

“The Language Lab actively engages students in French language learning exercises and conversational practice more than would be possible in a traditional classroom environment.”

Warren notes that Akiva was founded over 50 years ago by the late Rabbi David Hartman, who believed that learning should be hands-on and prioritize the needs of each student.

“The Language Lab is based on this educational philosophy and continues the goal of Rabbi Hartman to make learning a joyful experience that inspires a love of learning in every student,” she wrote.

The Language Lab was developed from the award-winning technology solutions designed for language teachers by Robotel. Robotel’s SmartClass+ digital software is used in foreign language labs around the world, she noted.

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