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There is a new way for teachers and students to sharpen their Spanish and English skills online.
More than 20 years after SpanishDict.com came online, the Rosslyn-based company behind the site, Curiosity Media, announced a free online program called SpanishDict Classrooms to help with remote teaching.
The program caters to high school and college instructors who are teaching Spanish to English speakers as well as English to Spanish speakers. Over the span of just a month, more than 3,000 teachers across the United States and the world signed up for SpanishDict Classrooms.
The program’s planning came about as lockdowns began in March and remote learning became nearly ubiquitous for teachers and students.
Chris Cummings, CEO of Curiosity Media, said that SpanishDict has historically been used for reference materials, but lately the company has seen more individuals utilize the site “as supplementary learning and a primary learning application for learning Spanish and learning English.”
“We doubled our focus on helping teachers help their students, and that was the inspiration for building SpanishDict Classrooms,” Cummings said. “We launched at the start of the school year and we’ve seen a pretty incredible response so far.”
Before launching SpanishDict Classrooms, the company polled more than 220 teachers about some of their primary concerns and needs with remote learning. Using that feedback and information gleaned from its 20 million monthly student users, the company was able to launch the classrooms site.
Through the classrooms program, teachers have a range of options to integrate into their lesson plans. Among those options are creating vocabulary and grammar assignments, and teaching grammar concepts using videos and stories that feature native speakers. Beyond assigning lessons through the program, teachers can also track students’ progress with it.
To be more user friendly to teachers and students alike, the program automatically syncs with Google Classrooms. It’s also compatible with laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones without the need of any specific program downloads.
Curiosity Media has experience with teaching programs, having launched Fluencia in 2013. However, while Fluencia is a subscription-based learning program focused on the individual, SpanishDict Classrooms is free and based on the “experience for teachers and students,” Cummings said.
“This launch takes a lot of the things we’ve done on SpanishDict and makes it really easy for teachers to use them with their classrooms,” Cummings added.
“It gives them this huge library of very high quality content that they can pick from for the lessons. Then it also lets them customize content that’s relevant to their curriculum.”
As the program grows and the company continues to receive feedback, Cummings says SpanishDict Classrooms hopes to add more value to the experience. He also said that the company is excited about the value that native speaker video can add to the learning experience.
“We want more people to succeed in learning Spanish and in learning English, and our goal is to provide the best possible products to do that,” Cummings said. “So we hope to continue to improve how we can serve teachers and students, and we hope that translates into more teachers and students using it on a daily basis to help them learn the language.”
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