The Importance And Components Of New-Age Language Labs

Educational technology has come a long way in the last couple of decades. When it comes to language learning in a classroom environment, language labs are of particular importance. Language labs, for the uninitiated, are used extensively in language schools, institutes, universities and schools, with the intention of simplifying and bettering the learning process. Learning a language works best when the student gets direct assistance from the tutor, with ample scope to speak and improve fluency. With around 20-30 students on an average in each room or class, that’s hardly possible. Language labs, such as Smartclass by Robotel, have simplified the whole thing for institutes.

Why are language labs important?

To be fair, language labs aren’t new. The first one can be traced way back in 1908, but with developing technology and better gadgets, things have improved tremendously. Today, language labs are also known as multimedia language labs or digital language labs, and these have been in use in many known institutes and colleges all over the globe. These labs use tablets, PCs, laptops, noise-cancelling earphones and a software platform, which allow students and tutors to interact with one another freely. Students can expect incredible assistance at all levels, while tutors can have a better idea of how each student is faring.

What are the components of a digital language lab?

It is important to understand that language labs can be very different in the components used, but they are designed to serve the same purpose – easy language learning. The best ones can have these components mentioned below.

  • Workstations for teachers. Usually, teachers have a laptop or PC, with a second monitor that help in doing edits, taking notes and all other things that are required for the job. The workstation also relies on the language lab software for additional tasks.
  • Student stations. These can be personal or supplied by the school, but most institutes rely on a mix of tablets, desktops, PCs, Chromebooks and smartphones for student learning.
  • Language lab software. This is what that combines everything together and facilitates the learning process. With the right language lab software, one expects a great interface and amazing assistance.
  • Headsets. When a student is speaking in the language class, he/she shouldn’t be distracted. The best ones have technology to eliminate noises, with specific noise-cancelling directional microphones. Such headsets ensure that students can speak without being disturbed and can record their own voice and not of those sitting next to them.  
  • Server. To connect the language lab software, database and other interactions, a server is required. Some are meant to be completely cloud-based, which others are hosted locally. The network for the same is usually dependent on Wi-Fi and internet.

Selecting the right language lab

There are many known pioneers in language labs and educational technology, and it is important to select one that offers the best setup, support and assistance. You can choose to get a demo, which can help in understanding why the concerned language lab is better than others. Keep in mind that language learning can only get better when the system is designed to match the needs of the concerned institute, and therefore, the focus should be on customization, as well. It is also important to understand the investment as how it may be relevant in the near future, considering the next five years.