Apple's iPads are transforming students' lives in multilingual European classrooms

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Teachers across Europe are using iPads to help them work with students who are having to learn a new language as well as their regular lessons, including some who have never been in a classroom before.

Every student gets their own iPad in German's Wilhelm Ferdinand School
Every student gets their own iPad in German's Wilhelm Ferdinand School


Apple in a press release highlighted how the use of its iPads is proving to be the solution in European schools where students are able to learn at their own pace and considerably improve their grades. Teachers are preparing written and video lessons which the students can work through both at school and at home on their iPads.

"With iPad, it's different than when they write something [down] and I come in with my red pen and say 'that's wrong,'" says Sinaan El Haq Hadjeri of the Wilhelm Ferdinand Schussler Day School in Dusseldorf, Germany. "[With iPad,] they learn for themselves."

Hadjeri alternates teaching days at the school with colleague Nick Kyriakidis, who agrees.

"Kids withdraw when they're afraid of making mistakes," he told Apple. "If we try to reduce this fear, it's much easier for them to work with us because they don't have anything to lose."

This school, and many others like it across Europe, are having to deal with more students who not only may not speak a European language, but might not have been inside a classroom before. They include immigrants and refugees who've had to leave behind their homes in the Middle East because of war. So they're having to adapt to a new country, a new school and a new language which may even use a different alphabet than they know.

Wilhelm Ferdinand Schussler Day School has around 325 students from 39 different countries and about a fifth of them are non-German speakers.

Since the school introduced a program of giving iPads to every student, the graduation rate has gone up over 20% to a perfect 100% total.

A similar program in Penarth, Wales, saw grades increase by an average of 3.8 points for the class using iPads in 2018. And at Stenkulaskolan School in Malmo, Sweden, there has been an 80% improvement in math grades despite 98% of the students there only speaking Swedish as a second language.

The Swedish teachers record instructional videos that are watched after school by students on their iPads. The College Daniel Argote in Pau, France, does a similar thing.

France is a particular focus for Apple in education as it now partners with the Malala Fund and Simpion school. The school teaches Swift coding and specifically to groups such as France's refugee population.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 470member
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
  • Reply 2 of 9
    ajlajl Posts: 103member
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.
  • Reply 3 of 9
    croprcropr Posts: 938member
    ajl said:
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.

    I am living in Belgium with 3 official languages (Dutch, French and German) and with a a very prominent role for English (NATO and EU headquarters are here).  It is not uncommon to have sentences  or even words with a mix of languages.  iOS and macOS have very limited support for multilingual environments.  And I mean multilingual in the sense of simultaneously supporting multiple languages.  

    If I use a browser I want to have the user interface (menu, ...) in English but the content of the page in Dutch.  If I use a spreadsheet it is the same:  the function names like sum() must be in English but the content (e.g. date formats) in Dutch.  This concept is unsupported in iOS or macOS, but the majority of Dutch speaking Belgians wants it this way

    Siri cannot cope with a streetname like Desguinlei (a main road in Antwerp), where the first part "Desguin" is French and the 2nd part "lei" is Dutch.  No matter how you pronounce it Siri cannot understand it and hence cannot find the route to it. And if you type the word Desguinlei in Apple Maps, it says something that no human can guess what it is. 

    Also multilingual support in Safari is non existing.  You cannot change the settings of Safari to "please give me the Dutch version of a webpage, fall back to the French version if Dutch is not available and then fall back to English". This very neat feature is foreseen in the http protocol and Firefox does support it,  Safari doesn't. 

    toysandmeJWSCdavgregavon b7FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 9
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,789member
    cropr said:
    ajl said:
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.

    I am living in Belgium with 3 official languages (Dutch, French and German) and with a a very prominent role for English (NATO and EU headquarters are here).  It is not uncommon to have sentences  or even words with a mix of languages.  iOS and macOS have very limited support for multilingual environments.  And I mean multilingual in the sense of simultaneously supporting multiple languages.   
    Same issue here in Southern California. Mix between Spanish and English. Especially frustrating with Siri when your system language is English, she has no understanding of Spanish words which are everywhere around here.
    davgreg
  • Reply 5 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,508member
    I'm glad to see iPad taking a prominent role in education:  There is just SO much potential here.

    It can provide quality education experiences to students while reducing teacher burden and costs -- that's a win-win situation.

    My own experience with what is being described here happened not only before there were iPads but before there were computers (at least outside government and very large corporations) in the early 60's:

    It was called "TeMac" (short for "teaching machine") and it is how I learned Algebra 1 in 7th grade.  It was a loosely bound book that had 2 columns on each page.  The left column contained short teachings and questions and the right column (covered by a slide) had the answers.   The students worked on their own at their own pace and a teacher was available for questions.   When the student completed a chapter the informed the teacher who give them the test on that chapter.
    ... Basically it was a computerized system without the computer.

    It was THE BEST educational experience I had in all of my years of schooling.

    I can see how this kind of thing could be easily adapted to different languages to help kids struggling to understand teachers using an unfamiliar language.   And, I sincerely hope that Apple teams up with a quality education service to help them exploit all the potential power of the iPad in classrooms throughout the world.
    edited June 12 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 6 of 9
    cropr said:
    ajl said:
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.

    I am living in Belgium with 3 official languages (Dutch, French and German) and with a a very prominent role for English (NATO and EU headquarters are here).  It is not uncommon to have sentences  or even words with a mix of languages.  iOS and macOS have very limited support for multilingual environments.  And I mean multilingual in the sense of simultaneously supporting multiple languages.  

    If I use a browser I want to have the user interface (menu, ...) in English but the content of the page in Dutch.  If I use a spreadsheet it is the same:  the function names like sum() must be in English but the content (e.g. date formats) in Dutch.  This concept is unsupported in iOS or macOS, but the majority of Dutch speaking Belgians wants it this way

    Siri cannot cope with a streetname like Desguinlei (a main road in Antwerp), where the first part "Desguin" is French and the 2nd part "lei" is Dutch.  No matter how you pronounce it Siri cannot understand it and hence cannot find the route to it. And if you type the word Desguinlei in Apple Maps, it says something that no human can guess what it is. 

    Also multilingual support in Safari is non existing.  You cannot change the settings of Safari to "please give me the Dutch version of a webpage, fall back to the French version if Dutch is not available and then fall back to English". This very neat feature is foreseen in the http protocol and Firefox does support it,  Safari doesn't. 

    I don’t doubt the issues you’re having but I had to see what the “it says something that no human can guess what it is” was so I copy/pasted Desguinlei into Apple maps and it gave me a location in Antwerp. Maybe it’s because I’m using it in English, not sure. 
    meterestnz
  • Reply 7 of 9
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 470member
    ajl said:
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.
    It can be Apps issue but it should be solved on system level. I noticed that Hangout offered me Italian Keyboard in one chat even I have not use it for long. And it was with italian friend and even we talk in English mostly. But I checked Hangout and it remebers keyboard. But I use it rare. And I checked Messages, they do as well. Other App I use rare. Good to know. But As I said should be solved on system level or as GUI guidline. Other area for multilingual world is translation. There is no help from Apple to make it easy. It require multiple steps. There are third party keyboards with direct translation but cumbersome. And do not want to use Google keyboard to get access to Google translate. But Google will probably not allow easy access to its app is it does not provide action extension until now.
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 9
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 350member
    One project I would love to see Apple go after would be their version of Google Translate- minus the Google, of course. 

    There is a lot of great stuff on the internet not offered in English or with a less than complete English website that this could open up for many of us. I have some German speaking and reading ability, but do not consider myself highly fluent in the language and using apps like iTranslate is simply not as effective as having whole pages translated on the fly in the browser. Even though I once lived there, that was well over 30 years ago and it is not something I use frequently enough to maintain much ability with.

    I also really wish Apple would have bought the former iOS app Word Lens which had the capability of live image based translation. Google snapped the company up and incorporated some of that into their apps.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,796member
    Wgkrueger said:
    cropr said:
    ajl said:
    frantisek said:
    I wonder about that multilingual environment. I do use iPhone like that and it is plain horrible experience. Mainly switching two languages, occasionally up to six. Even two languages are nightmare as apps or iOS, no idea where is problem, do not remember what language was used in each conversation or chat so I constantly switching keyboard or typing or dictating with wrong one. In this particular case I can not call iPhone smartphone until it will remember language on conversation/contact base.
    ? Mine does.

    I am living in Belgium with 3 official languages (Dutch, French and German) and with a a very prominent role for English (NATO and EU headquarters are here).  It is not uncommon to have sentences  or even words with a mix of languages.  iOS and macOS have very limited support for multilingual environments.  And I mean multilingual in the sense of simultaneously supporting multiple languages.  

    If I use a browser I want to have the user interface (menu, ...) in English but the content of the page in Dutch.  If I use a spreadsheet it is the same:  the function names like sum() must be in English but the content (e.g. date formats) in Dutch.  This concept is unsupported in iOS or macOS, but the majority of Dutch speaking Belgians wants it this way

    Siri cannot cope with a streetname like Desguinlei (a main road in Antwerp), where the first part "Desguin" is French and the 2nd part "lei" is Dutch.  No matter how you pronounce it Siri cannot understand it and hence cannot find the route to it. And if you type the word Desguinlei in Apple Maps, it says something that no human can guess what it is. 

    Also multilingual support in Safari is non existing.  You cannot change the settings of Safari to "please give me the Dutch version of a webpage, fall back to the French version if Dutch is not available and then fall back to English". This very neat feature is foreseen in the http protocol and Firefox does support it,  Safari doesn't. 

    I don’t doubt the issues you’re having but I had to see what the “it says something that no human can guess what it is” was so I copy/pasted Desguinlei into Apple maps and it gave me a location in Antwerp. Maybe it’s because I’m using it in English, not sure. 
    When you type something it is 'hardwired' and language independent (as a proper noun). That isn't the problem here.

    The problem is when it is spoken in a multi lingual setting. There are times when even a completely English word in a purely English setting will not be picked up (strange accents etc). I wonder if Siri would understand the Steve Jobs' pronunciation of 'Jaguar'. However, when you throw in a word that is foreign to the language setting and might even be comprised of seperate foreign elements itself, things become largely useless as things like Siri really can't cut it.

    Imagine if there was a street called 'Mel Gibson St' in Spain. With the language setting set to Spanish, I doubt Siri would understand the pronunciation although if it were written, there wouldn't be a problem.

    I too live in a multi lingual environment and it is hard going for digital assistants and software.
    edited June 13
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