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Nestled in the heart of South Georgia, Valdosta State University (VSU) is one of four comprehensive universities in the University System of Georgia. Valdosta’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages offers foreign language and language teaching degrees both on campus and online.
Valdosta State University started using Transparent Language Online in the fall of 2013. The platform is leveraged in both physical classrooms on campus and virtual classrooms for online degree programs. Several teachers noted that when transitioning from face-to-face class to online classes, it is more difficult for students to practice pronunciation and receive feedback. The speech analysis activities in Transparent Language Online have helped to fill that gap.
The Spanish department has used the platform most extensively. Many Spanish instructors at VSU count Transparent Language Online usage as a portion of the students’ grades (up to 50% of the students’ homework grade in certain classes). Other classes use the program for extra credit.
Since 2013, faculty, students, and staff at Valdosta State University have logged over 15,000 learning sessions in Transparent Language Online, with an average session time of over 30 minutes. For obvious reasons, Spanish is the most accessed language, but other languages popular around campus include French, English, Arabic, and Japanese.
Students appreciate the personalized learning experience delivered by Transparent Language Online. The platform uses a spaced repetition algorithm to manage the presentation of previously learned vocabulary to ensure that students retain what they have learned throughout the semester. The learning activities in the program are adaptive; each student will see the material they know less frequently than the material they struggle with.
When asked to give feedback on Transparent Language Online, students pointed out many other positives:
“I think Transparent Language is very helpful especially being able to listen to words in slow motion. I also like the built-in repetitions that give you more practice. It never asks you a vocabulary word just once. You have to answer correctly multiple times before moving on and I think that helps for learning and remembering the material in the long run.”
“Transparent Language is a good tool. I like the way the assignments are organized so that I can concentrate on learning the material. It is all set up for me whenever I log in, and I just start right into it. … I respond very well to taking a quiz with immediate grading and then being allowed to retake the parts I missed. That way my time is devoted to the areas I am weak in. It makes me determined to keep at it until I get a perfect score, and that is very satisfying.”
Transparent Language Online provides instructors with the capabilities that would normally require using a handful or more different products or tools.
Classroom management features allow instructors to seamlessly send assignments, establish due dates, and post notes to the class all within the platform’s Instructor Portal. Transparent Language Online’s reporting tools also allow instructors to monitor student progress and report on detailed student activity. Speaking of student activity, instructors can also create and assign lessons that align with their specific curriculum.
“There is a definite difference between my students before and after Transparent Language Online,” noted Dr. Michelle Ocasio, Associate Professor of Spanish at VSU. “They sound like regular, native speakers walking along the street.”
As instructors on campus advocate for the program, they encourage more language instructors to pick up the program for integrated use in their curriculum.