Transparent Language Blog

Where to Find OERs for Your Language Classes Posted by on Oct 5, 2016 in For Educators

A recent higher education survey lamented that many educators do not make use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). Surprising to me, however, were the main barriers cited by teachers: 48% of those polled noted they had “difficulty located the resources needed” and 49% said there were “not enough resources for [their] subject”.

where to find foreign language OER

I hope that this blog post will address both of those issues for foreign language teachers, because free, openly-available, and license-free resources open up endless opportunities for sharing and collaboration amongst teachers and districts. For example, after their newly developed curriculum helped an additional 51% of students pass the state math and English exams, Grandview School District in Washington now shares its curriculum as an OER:

“Doing so allows other districts to use such content without infringing copyright, and is part of the federal #GoOpen movement launched last year. Schools or states share materials through an open license, and encourage other district leaders to do the same.”

This is not a unique case. Across 15 states, more than 60 school districts have volunteered to share resources, which are now compiled in Learning Registry, a digital catalog of OERs. A quick search for “foreign language” in the registry spit out more than 28,000 results!

Of course, there’s a lot out there beyond the registry:

  • The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching portal (or MERLOT, for short) has an ever-expanding collection of authentic language materials. The more common languages (Chinese, French, German, Spanish, etc.) have more resources available than others, but more than a dozen world languages and less commonly taught languages are represented as well. MERLOT Editor’s comb through the materials and give them ratings to help you find the highest quality texts.
  • The University of Texas at Austin is home to The Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL), one of 16 National Foreign Language Resource Centers funded by the US Department of Education. They provide free authentic materials to teachers of Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Malayalam, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Yoruba.
  • The National Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC), which funds COERLL, has its own repository called the LRC portal. The portal includes an impressive number of less common languages and allows teachers to search by grade level and proficiency level.
  • Also from the academic world, MIT makes materials from their classes available for public use by other teachers via MIT OpenCourseWare. They currently offer language learning materials in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and ESL. You may also want to explore courses in other subjects, which MIT partner organizations are currently translating into Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Persian, and Turkish.

Karen Olson, our Academic Director and a 20+ year veteran language teacher, often recommends MERLOT and COERLL as her favorites. So, I want to know—what OERs do you recommend? Let’s grow this list for the language teachers among us and erase those barriers to using OERs in the language classroom!

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  1. Sarah S.:

    We list some more OER repositories here in this blog post: Thanks for using COERLL 🙂

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