Diigo for Language Instruction

Read on for a way language learners and teachers can use Diigo in a way that can seriously jumpstart authentic language learning exchanges.

I recently taught a course to masters students in the GSTILE (Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education) TFL (Teaching Foreign Languages) program at Monterey Institute of International Studies. We did much, MUCH more than explore specific tools, but more on that later (and more on how incredibly powerful it is to co-design and teach with another teacher). One of the tools that I discovered as a language learner, and that I shared with my students, to great excitement, was using Diigo’s annotation features (specifically highlighting and sticky-note comments) in language learning and instruction. For those who are not familiar with Diigo, it is one of several “social bookmarking”/knowledge management utilities (Delicious and Evernote are others) that allow you collect your own internet bookmarks and other bits of “knowledge” online, and interact with others around that information. (Diigo has nascent tools for educators and schools that I am just now exploring)

I started using Diigo’s annotation features for my own learning when an Italian language exchange partner I met on polyglotclub.com sent me a link to an article he thought I might like to read in Italian. I started highlighting words or phrases I stumbled on in the article, and adding clarification in “sticky notes” attached to each. This in itself has been very powerful as self-learning tool. I then realized there were some that Google Translate couldn’t help with, and I needed help from my native Italian speaking exchange partner. So, I started highlighting words I needed help with in a different color, with questions “stuck” to them, and now we can easily find and offer help on troublesome language issues in each other’s online reading through a shared Diigo Group, where we can see each other’s annotations right on the web pages we are learning from.

Below is an example of a section of reading I have highlighted in an online article (note that the screenshot is also taken with and stored on Diigo):

And below is a how the sticky notes appear when you click on the comment boxes next to a word (or when you create one). Note how the note is color-coded to match the highlight color chosen.


So what do you need to be able to do this?

  1. Each person needs a Diigo account
  2. Create a Diigo Group that you both need to join
  3. Share the webpage you will be getting help with to the group
  4. Start highlighting and “sticky note-ing” (you will need to install a browser plugin to use many of the features beyond basic bookmarking)
  5. Set up some system for notifying when corrections/feedback is entered and ready (group notifications, change the color to a third color meaning “answered,” or some other method. A simple email can work.

And have fun! Please comment with any other cool language uses you find for Diigo or other such social bookmarking tools.

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