26 March, 2012

Listening Treasures

Joining Classdigitools, one of EVO 2012 sessions was very inspiring!! In week three of this 5 weeks course, we were exploring many treasures (web tools) to develop students' listening skills. Here are some of these treasures:

It's a great website as nearly all materials are read by young learners nearly the same age as my students. My students have always complained that in many listening activities, the speaker's accent is not clear or that the listening task is not interesting for young people their age! I guess it's solved now !! I'm sure this site will grab their attentiona nd they will love it !! Besides, it's very easy. Just one click on the kid's nice photo takes youto the video. It's also available as an iphone app!!

Listen and write 
It's a good site mainly for dictation. You can choose either to listen and write or watch and listen then write. their listening skills are based on news articles from different sources. you canhave dictation passages in more than ten different languages. Though you can use the site without registeration, however, by logging in using a free account, you can choose whether to be dictated by word level or sentence level, upload your own audio, save your scores and have a record of your history! You can watch Russell Stannard's tutorial of this site here


It introduces 3 audio tools:
1) Myna : The demo shows how this tool is used for editing sound tracks. It can be used to eliminate any background noise, add sound effects, or background music, or cut and paste sound tracks!! It's one of many tools offered in Aviary. You can find other tools such as music creator, image editor, screen capture, ...etc.
2) Monle: It's similar to the previous tool, but as a smart phone app.
3) Audioboo: An easy audio tool through which you can easily record your audio messages and share them online. It's also available as an iphone app !!

I agree with Nik Peachey that listening to the audio track of a film is sometimes helpful when we are focusing on the listening skill itself. I find the first website suggested http://listentoamovie.com/ very useful and easy to use.
The second one http://www.script-o-rama.com/oldindex.shtml completes a task with the first one as in this site you can get the scripts for whole films !! WOW!! that can generate lots of activities as you can even print them ! Nik's blogs have been always inspiring as he doesn't only introduces a new web tool, but also suggest a lesson plan on how to use this tool in your class !! Thanks Nik !!

It's a youtube channel which offers quite an interesting series of interviews with famous figures in all fields such as Mike Tyson as a sports figure, Sting as a singer, Robin Williams, an actor and lots more. All viewers can find one of their favorite popular figures which they would like to hear more about !! These videos can serve as very good listening activities as they are not long, just about 4 to 7 mins only.

You start by choosing the corpus you want (Let's say English corpus), then click load corpus. The first list you get is a list of interviews. You can read a short summary of each before you choose one. For each interview you have some options: play video, play audio, download audio file, show transcript, or show section overview. When you choose to show transcript, it shows you the full transcript, divided into sections according to the ideas of the interview. In the same transcript screen, you have Annotations options through which you can highlight the grammatical points, spoken language markers, topics, and other linguistic areas covered. It 's not just a webiste that gives interviews that can be used as listening activities, it's an amazing website shedding light on many aspects of a language.

It's a very attractive site as it appeals to children. You can browse the three main sections of the site: subjects, videos , and games. Once a  student types a word in the search box, s/he gets the definition , a video explaining the word and a game. If there is no video or game on the word searched, you can upload a video explaining it or create a game with a list of at least 10 words. I have tried creating a game and it's great fun. It would be nice if students uploaded their own videos explaining a word. It will be quite an exciting experience for them.

It is a website based on what is called 'echoes', which are recordings about any topic you choose. You can listen to recordings of people from all around the world. You can record your own echo or upload an MP3 file. You can embed an echo in your online space too. So, it's a tool to listen to recordings, create your own and share with others.

It's a very famous and popular website worldwide which contains a lot of  inspiring TED Talks videos. You can limit your search by field, or many other interesting categories. They can not only serve as listening activities, but they can also be pre-writing activities as they arouse a great deal of discussion, which students can write about later.

Ted Talks Wiki 

This project Wiki is mainly addressing "How can the TED talks be used as springboards for further discourse, exploration, reflection and action". It has a great collection of TED talks gathered together in one place and collected under specific headings according to their topic.

18 March, 2012

Online Enlightenment !

The year 2011 was a remarkable turning point in my professional and social life.
Before 2011 started, I had been attending Shapingthe way we teach English webinars which were held twice a month (Nov-March).Through them, I got acquainted to Adobe connect and learnt about some good strategies in teaching EFL. It also introduced me to a ning for the first time where I could manage my own page, start discussions with other members, follow and participate in other discussion threads. It was my first certified online course.
At the very beginning of January 2011, I joined Baw, one of EVO online sessions. It's a 5 weeks course held from Jan 9 to Feb 12 . When I joined Baw, I thought it will be just a basic course of how to use the internet in teaching. I thought I might find something which I have missed learning about !!! It seems I was a complete newbie, who would have missed a lot if I hadn't joined Baw 11 !!!
I've always been interested in using the internet to develop my teaching practice, but it was only downloading worksheets, some games, cards, ideas to use in class. But I have always felt there are lots more to learn and explore !! I couldn't know where and how to get to these hidden places on the internet !!

I was like in a closed house but some rays of the sun got in through the small openings in the closed windows, but I couldn't open the windows, yet I feel little warmth of the sun outside. Baw 11 opened for me all the doors and windows of that house. During the course, I was like amazed of all the windows being opened to me, getting more sun light and warmth into my place but still I couldn't go out a lot. I was enjoying the warmth of the sun, but still not confident enough to go out and explore the outside world more by myself.
After finishing Baw, I thought I would lose this company and thus lose all the warmth and sun light I have been enjoying and learning from, so I decided to get out in that world and explore what I learnt from Baw and even discover new places (web 2.0 tools) and at the same time enjoy the warmth of the sun (support of many online friends). When I had to take this first step by myself , I thought I would get lost alone in such a world or lose interest after some time being alone. But I found my self surrounded by my Baw friends and many other online friends, getting closer to me and helping me learn and enjoy it much more.
After some time, Baw coordinators  even invited me to be one of the Baw 2012 team of moderators !! WOW !!! I'm getting ready to open some windows for others sitting in closed places to help them enjoy the wonders and warmth of the 2.0 world !!