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Using Digital Tools for Foreign Language Courses

Foreign language courses are a unique challenge for fully asynchronous classes or even with a large class over Zoom. Are the students getting enough speaking practice time? How do you find the time to meet and check pronunciation?

Well we’ll go over a few digital tools that can help you create community and conversation for your online foreign language courses. My examples will be Spanish since that is the language I’m most familiar with but you can use these for any foreign language.


Flipgrid’s use of video and audio and emphasis on community make it a perfect fit for online language courses. They even have a resource to get you started – Building a K12 Foreign Language Flipgrid Community. Although this is specifically written for K12 you can use some of the same principles in higher ed.

New to Flipgrid? Learn more about it ->

Flipgrid is even less work for you if you utilize the Discovery tab to find foreign language topics that are ready to go! First, click on the Discovery tab from the Flipgrid navigation. Then search by language. Spanish is our example and they have 2,904 topics!

You can add these topics to your own class and edit any detail to personalize them to your needs. So if it isn’t *exactly* what you are looking for, it will give you a start and you can tweak what needs to be changed. Here’s just a few topic examples ready to use:

  • introduce yourself in Spanish
  • Spanish pronouns
  • Spanish joke contest
  • Spanish partner conversations
  • Spanish greetings and goodbyes

Click the Discovery tab from the main navigation and put your language in the search bar.

flipgrid spanish premade topics

After you have browsed the list of available topics, click one to preview it. If you would like to use the topic for your course, click the Add Topic button on the bottom right. You can also save to your collection for later.

Now that you’ve added the topic for your class, it is time to edit. You can edit any of the details for this topic to fit with your course. Then just click Update Topic button in the bottom right to publish for your students.

flipgrid spanish edit discovery topic

Now you’re all set to create an interactive language experience with Flipgrid!


Next up is VoiceThread. VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia tool which means it is perfect for interactive language lessons.

Examples of ways to use VoiceThead for foreign language:

  • Check pronunciation by asking for student video/audio comments
  • Correct pronunciation of students with private comment replies
  • Ask for text comments to assess writing skills
  • Assign students to use annotation tool to add grammar marks or other corrections
  • Present an audio story and ask comprehension questions
  • Assign students to create their own VoiceThread presentation and require other students to give feedback & ask questions. This can build conversation and comprehension.

Below is a very basic example of a few of these foreign language ideas using my limited Spanish. It is not polished but is meant to give you an idea of what VoiceThread looks like and how it might look to use in your foreign language course.

Visual mapping – mind or concept mapping

While Flipgrid and VoiceThread shine for speaking skills, visual mapping can really connect the dots visually for concepts, vocabulary, and grammar.

We recommend MindMup for mind mapping since it is free and integrates perfectly with Google Drive. But another mind mapping software MindMeister has an amazing post about using visual mapping for foreign language with concrete examples for grammar and vocabulary.

Below are a few examples for that post. To read all about it, click here to jump over to that post.

mindmap vocabulary example from
Visual map vocabulary example from
mindmap grammar example from
Visual map grammar example from

Now you’re all set to try some digital tools to enhance your online language classes. If you have questions or need help implementing these ideas, please contact the IDAT team.

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