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Technology: offering endless possibilies

PC based language lab enhances learning for Lakeridge students
by: VERN UYETAKE LHS Spanish teacher Julie Pacheco-Toye sets up a lab excercise for her class.

Learning a foreign language at Lakeridge High School became a lot more efficient and a lot more fun over the summer with an upgrade to the language lab.

Thanks to the generosity of the attendees at the Pacer Club auction last spring, $60,000 was raised specifically to upgrade the lab, which is now one of two state-of-the-arts language labs in Oregon.

'This lab allows us to teach university-level classes,' Lakeridge Spanish teacher Julie Pacheco-Toye said. 'We're really happy with the new technology.'

She explained that in the old lab, teachers played audiocassettes for all students to hear at once. Students could record themselves on cassette tapes and then were paired up to listen to what they had recorded.

'We were lucky to have any language lab at all,' Pacheco-Toye said. 'But there is just so much more we can do in the new digital, PC-based lab that we weren't able to do before. The new lab allows us to plan lessons where students work at their own pace and allows us to create integrated and interactive lessons utilizing many kinds of digital technology and resources. The possibilities are endless.'

The new lab, which was moved from the World Languages classroom area to the library, has 40 stations with computers and headsets.

The system's software allows teachers to download videos and then write exercises that correspond to them. Students access the videos and exercises via the computers and complete them at their own pace. They can replay any portion as often as needed.

'I can download (Spanish) podcasts available on the Internet,' Pacheco-Toye said. 'The students are hearing and seeing real world language. It's a much more active learning experience.

'Oral exams used to take up lots of classroom time, now the students can all take the exam at once. I can grade it later. I can add (comments) and a grade and students can listen to it again. It's good to listen to their own voice.'

Students use the lab time to practice at their own pace. They can slow down and go back to hear passages or word pronunciations again.

Rob Shiffer, a senior in one of Pacheco-Toye's advanced-placement Spanish classes, said the enhanced technology has been very helpful.

'You can hear that you are doing it right,' he said. 'You can listen, stop and start again. It allows you to individualize a lot more.'

In addition to Spanish, students at Lakeridge can learn to speak French, Japanese and Chinese in the language lab. Pacheco-Toye said the teachers are expecting to see higher scores on the AP language exams next spring.

'I want to express how much we appreciate the Pacer Club and the administration's support for training and backing for the lab,' Pacheco-Toye said noting Palisades Market also continually supports the school.

She encourages parents to come in and check out the lab.