Forget those old tape recorders in the language lab: one school district is handing out iPods for students learning English as a second language.
Five schools in Beaufort County, South Carolina are equipping kids with limited English skills with iPod Touches to get them up to speed.
The iPods take the place of the language lab of yesteryear — students listen to stories on them as part of a fluency program designed to develop vocabulary, improve pronunciation and emphasize important words and concepts. They also watch videos on the iPod for grammar and reading exercises.
“If you don’t understand the story, you can listen to it,” seventh-grader Alex Sanchez told theBeaufort Gazette. “When I read, if I then hear the story, it sometimes makes more sense.”
The schools paid about $200 for each device. Apple provided teacher training and docking stations that can charge and sync 20 iPods at once. The ESL iPod program launched in one middle school last year and expanded to another four schools in the district this year.
Right now, the MP3 players go to kids who need to learn English but the school district is considering using them for students of foreign languages like French and Spanish.
I love this idea. An Italian friend of mine started using her commute time to listen to ESL podcasts — of which there are a ton — and found that in a couple of months she had learned more than at a class she paid for.
An elementary school in Sarasota, Florida is sending several hundred working Macs to the trash heap — in keeping with the school district’s “PC-only” policy.
Piled up in the cafeteria of the Emma Booker school, 140 G3 and G4 laptops and over 50 iMac and eMac machines await the scrap heap.
An account in the local paper takes on dramatic overtones:
Sarasota County Public School system employees who alerted the Pelican Press to the salvage effort asked not to be identified because they feared retribution. “All of the machines are still working,” said one. “The teachers asked if they could buy them or give them to the kids. We were told, ‘No.’”
Putting the Macs out to pasture is the result of a decision by Superintendent Gary Norris, who headed the school system from 2004-2008, who declared the school system would be PC-only, the paper said.
Even the county school district’s program that donates computers to needy kids, called Texcellence, is a Mac-free zone.
“We’ve never used Macs,” foundation spokeswoman Laura Breeze told Pelican Press. The group recently received 1,100 used PC computers and is refurbishing them and adding software before giving them out.
At a time when budgets are tight, you have to wonder why a school district would send working computers to the scrap heap.