As a language teacher, regardless what language you're trying to teach, finding resources that can help students learn isn't always easily. Thankfully, there is an effective, free open source application called OpenTeacher
that allows language teachers to develop customized vocabulary tests for students.
The application is very easy to set up and use, and the tests themselves exist as individual files. So, once a teacher has created and saved a language vocabulary words test, the teacher can then distribute the file to all students to take the test.
The application can understand translations to a wide range of languages like French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Swedish and even Turkish.
OpenTeacher can serve as a very effective tool in the classroom to supplement regular classroom instruction as well as normal paper-based tests.
OpenTeacher Main Screen
The way the application works is that a teacher will click on the "Enter list" tab to put the program in "create test" mode. The teacher can create a test title, and then type the question and answer languages. This applies to the next pane where the teacher will answer each test vocabulary word by typing the "Question" word on the left and the "Answer" word on the right, with an equal sign between them.
After entering all of the rows that you want to add, just click on the "Enter!" button and all of the entries get loaded into the final test "rows". You can continue adding additional rows until you are finished building your test. You can also remove individual rows if you want as well.
Keep in mind as you're developing questions and answers, that there is an entire collection of special characters and symbols in the chart just above the "Enter!" button. This lets you write accurate language vocabulary with all of the correct accent marks and special symbols.
Taking the Test
Once you're finished developing a test, you can save it as a special OpenTeacher file, and this allows anyone to open up your test at any other location if they have OpenTeacher installed. Clicking on the "Teach me!" tab puts the application in "Test" mode, which runs through the questions that you developed for the test.
The student has an opportunity to provide the translation. When the "Type Answer" tab is selected, the student must literally type the translation exactly as it should be spelled, without any hints. If the answer is correct, it moves on to the next word. If it's incorrect, the student is shown the correct answer along with the pronunciation.
Thinking the Answer
When the "Think Answer" tab is selected, the test mode is "think" only. This means that the student doesn't actually type anything at all. Whenever the question is displayed, the student needs to try and think of the correct translation. When the correct translation is displayed, the student needs to report whether they were thinking of the right word or not. Obviously, there's a certain degree of trust in the student with this test mode.
Shuffle the Answer
Another option is to use the "Shuffle answer" test mode, which basically jumbles up the letters of the answer. This provides just enough of a hint so that the student must decipher the answer and then type it in, spelled correctly.
Getting a Hint
"Repeat Answer" mode is probably the easiest test mode of them all. In this case, a "hint" is displayed - of course the hint is actually the answer itself. Then the hint fades away, and students need to rely on their short term memory to type in the answer.
This is a good format for testing students that are very new to a language and may need to study the vocabulary using repetition alone.
Once the test is completed, the student will receive the results on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, depending how many translations were answered correctly. This is feedback that should be used by students to gauge how well they are learning the material. The application doesn't provide any logging system to keep track of scores, so this is more of a study tool that teachers can provide to students, rather than an accurate way to perform actual testing of the material.
The one way the application could be used as testing is in-class, with the teacher monitoring the progress and recording the final test results by hand when the student is finished.
Of course, there's nothing to say that OpenTeacher can't be used for more than just single-word vocabulary training. If you want to, you can type entire sentence translations. For advanced language students, this is an excellent way to practice translating more advanced sentences and phrases used in everyday conversation.
OpenTeacher is simple enough Open Source software that it could be installed on just about any PC in the classroom and run without any problems. It would also be useful at home, as a tool for students to practice language vocabulary while they aren't in the classroom.
Whichever approach the language teacher takes, the software can become a very valuable utility in the entire toolset of options that teachers use when trying to instill in students a solid foundation of language skills.
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