Wednesday, December 7, 2011

V-Mails?!?

Mail Vu (mp3)
Introducing the all new Mail Vu


Email, sometimes written as e-mail, is simply the shortened form of electronic mail, a protocol for receiving, sending and storing electronic messages. Emails has gained popularity with the spread of the internet. However, as technology develops, from a boring written email, main sending have develop to video mail. If you are pondering what is a Video Mail, it is a tool to send a recorded video of yourself, as if you are writing an email to a receiver. Instead of writing long messages, you are able to talk live in the video, save it and send it as an email. There are a few websites that offer such services, and one of the websites is Mail Vu. Below is a link linking directly to the website and a picture of how the website looks like:





How Can I Use It for Educational Purposes? 


Unlike AudioBoo and Brainshark, Mail Vu not only allows recording of the users voice, it also allows the actually video to be taken. Users will be able to show emotions and body language as well when recording the video. However, users wont be able to do it Brainshark, where the PowerPoint presentation will be played during the recording. 

Teachers can use this feature to good use. One of it is by having the students to sent video mail to the teacher as homework. Students can record their response to a argumentative based question and answer it using Mail Vu, and sent it to the teacher's email address. The teacher then can reply the video by sending a Mail Vu back to the student. Besides that, group work can be done by using Mail Vu as well. Students can gather in front of a webcam and record the activity that should be done by the students, such as group presentation or role play. Teachers must be creative in creating lessons and activity which involves Mail Vu, so that they can put Mail Vu to full use and in the same time, practice the speaking skills of the students. Below is a picture of how to send your Mail Vu to a receiver.



Advantages
  • It's free
  • Allows video recording and sending it to other receivers by sending it directly to the receiver's email.
  • Allows users to connect with family and friends, disregarding the location, time and distance
  • Allows a new form of activity, called the connected classroom, as it allows users to connect to each other despite the location of the learning take place.
  • Allows language learning to be done at the school or at home, and can be sent instantly to the teacher via V-mail.
  • Motivates the students to learn language as a purpose is provided to use the tool and students are able to speak freely, without any constrains from the teacher's monitor.
  • Allows retaking the recording if the student is not satisfied with the previous recording.
Disadvantages
  • If users wish to use other services, they need to pay for it.
  • Recorder video could not be embedded into any social websites such as blogger




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Elllo, The English 'Teacher'

Elllo, The English "Teacher" (mp3)

The All-in-One English Website

Ever think of getting the chance to see all the listening materials that is available free for educators in one single website? Well, the search can come to an end as ELLLO, the All-in-One online English listening lesson library is available for anyone who wish to use the materials for their lesson plans or simply by motivating the students to learn English on their free time, in school or at home. There are a few sections available for the viewers to view, hear and use for any lessons: Views (general/culture), Games, Mixer, Videos, News etc. This sections are well organized by the top right side of the website, and viewers will be able to explore the website with ease. Below is the link to this awesome website, and a picture of the front page of the website:

http://www.elllo.org/english/home.htm




Convienient as it is, the categories are lined up in a horizontal way, making it easy for the viewers to choose from:

1. Views

In this category, there are recorded conversation based on various topics. Along with the topics and recorded audio, there will be transcription available for the viewers to view in order to have a better understanding of  the  conversation, as both listening and reading skills are involved in the learning process. There will be quizzes as well for the viewers to complete as a practice based on the focus of the recorded audio. The greatest criteria for this category, which may exist in other categories as well, is there are video responses with subtitles included, as a response to the recorded audio. Not only the video response tool is a great way to comment, but other viewers can listen to other people opinion based on the first person point of view. By doing so, students may increase their motivation to speak, as viewers may notices that there are various accents of English included in this website, and not every sentence uttered is grammatical correct. This may cause awareness, especially to second language learners, that speaking English is not always about uttering the correct sentences straight out from a book, but having the courage to speak up and learn the language.

2. Mixer

This category is special as all the recorded audio is based on various accents. Hence, the listening activity may be a little bit tough for students as they need to adapt the different accents of English language all around the world. But it will be a great and interesting activity because it will be so much fun to hear different accents speaking on the same topic. There are transcription at the bottom of the recorded audio, with Audio Elaborator for vocabulary found in the transcription. There are quizzes and comprehension questions available for practice.

3. Games

For the Games category, it almost have the same function as Views has, however, the difference lies on the task provided. If any viewers explore this category, they will notice that this category will primarily focus on 3 language aspects, which is vocabulary, reading and speaking quizzes. These activities may prove to be useful for beginners of English language learners as it will scaffold learners in learning English.

4. News.

In the News section, viewers will notice that there are only two different accents of English found, which is UK and US English. Learners will have the choice of choosing over 20 broadcasts to play, together with listening questions based on the recorded video. There are too vocabulary questions available for learners to answer and learn.


These are the four main sections which i found may draw teachers and learners attention in learning English using ELLLO. Students as low as primary schools will be able to listen and complete questions based on the recorded audio or video, but teachers need to monitor all the students, as they may have problems with vocabulary. Teachers themsleves can make full use of the website to design a listening activity for the students in the classroom or simply by giving them the topic based on the category chosen and labelled it as homework to do. But these may cause problems as not every child has computers or internet connection in their residence, so the best is by making it as a listening lesson plan.

Advantages

There are a number of advantages for this website. The advantages are as follow:

  • It's free
  • There a number of categories to choose from
  • Quizzes and listening questions are included
  • Hearing different accents of English
  • Personalization - teachers and learners get to choose with topic interest them the most
  • As a support website for designing lesson plans
  • Autonomous learning
  • Provide a purpose for the students to listening, read, answers the questions and learn the language
  • One of CLIL websites
Disadvantages
  • The organisation of the contents may confused first time users,
  • No clear instructions on how to carry out the tasks
  • Some of the audio and video quality is not that good



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Teaching and Pod-casting with my Boo

Teaching and Pod-casting with my Boo (mp3)

Audioboo- My Boo

Audioboo is recently one of the most used online voice recording website. This website is just simply fantastic. Users can make impromptu interviews to be uploaded into any websites, recording some beautiful music that have been composed by any freelancing or contract composers, a recording of your life or even a radio show. Besides for leisure and personal use, Audioboo too can be used as a tool for recording reports or meetings, story telling or any educational use for language teaching. One of the best part of Audioboo is that is link to other platforms. Example of these platforms are like Twitter, Facebook, Posterous or even Tumblr. And if the user have iTunes, he or she can hear to any podcast as all of these will be available in iTunes. Below is a link to Audioboo and a picture of the frontpage of Audioboo:


http://audioboo.fm/



Ways of using Audioboo for podcasting.




By clicking the application to record your own podcast, it will lead the user to the page, or picture above. The steps that the users need to take notice of:

1. Start Recording

By plugging in your headphone and microphone (optional, it will be fine if you have a build in microphone in your notebook), you are all set to record your podcast. By clicking on 'Start Recording', the recording session will start.

2. Duration of Recording

On the left side of the recording button, there will be a timer. This timer will state how long have you been recording and may serve as a time limit for certain teachers for lesson planning, or limiting the time for a presentation by any individual, such as a student or businessman.

3. Recording Buttons

There are two recording buttons at the bottom of the 'Start Recording' button. You can preview the recording that you have made by hitting the 'Preview Recording', and listen to what you had recorded. If you are unsatisfied with the recording , you can re-record your podcast by hitting the other button to restart your recording.

When you are satisfied:




If you are satisfied with you recording, press 'Happy/ Add a title' button, and it will lead to the next page, which is the picture above. In this page, you can add a title to your recording. Besides that, you can insert some labels, regarding to what categories you recording. Below is a podcast of my blog:


How it is useful for teaching?

Teachers can record lots of podcast for students to listen to. Students can listen to these podcast in the school, at home, for any specific reason, such as revising to what the teacher had taught, or listen back to what the teacher have to explain about a lesson of literature in class. By providing such teaching aid to students, teaching language maybe easier as language can be learned not only in the classroom or ICT classroom, but students can excess to the teaching talking lessons online, as these recording will be available in any social websites, such as Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or even iTunes. Besides that, teachers can prepare their lesson plans by singing by their own, composing their own song, and making it as a listening lesson for the class. The authenticity of the music will make the classroom more lively and students often response to authentic materials.

Advantages:

  • It's free
  • Useful for listening activity
  • Useful for making podcast
  • Available in different sources
  • Steps in making a podcast is easy as 1, 2, 3
  • One useful language teaching tool

Disadvantages:

  • In need of internet
  • In need of advance computer tools such as microphones
  • Teachers need to know how to mold this superb device into a teaching tool




Just Click and Learn !!

Just Click and Learn !! (mp3)

Learning English using ClickandLearn.net

ClicknLearn is a interactive website for different age of students to learn English using the content provided in the website. Besides English, this website to teach French and is originally made using Spanish. However, the content can be switch into English and used to teach English learners. Below is a picture of the website and the link to the page:




Activities that can be done and some of the advantage found in this website

In this website, the activities is mostly about grammar and games. However, both are separated into a few categories, following the age of the students. Students will learn through the contexts provided by the website. For example, solving a problem in a specific situation or context, that requires grammatical correctness. The activities too include different exercises that can combine in various basic skills that not only will promote to problem solving, but too will promote the fixation and internalization of what have the students had learned. Besides that, the activities might be fun and motivating to some students, promoting a friendly learning environment in the classroom.

Some of the major disadvantages

There a few major disadvantages that can be spotted if teachers are to use this website. One of the things that i don't fancy of is, that there a lot of sound included in unnecessary places, such as the starting of the website, and some odd noises added into the games. For me, i personally think that if the programmer or creator of this website replace those sounds with voice projection of any tasks, will be more beneficial compared to some random noise. The second disadvantages that i can notice in the website, is that there are just too many texts. Students may get bored or demotivated with all the texts presence in the website. There are not many pictures included, taking language learning to the old days, of drilling and grammar-focused. Lastly, there are no assistance if the students have done something wrong, or unable to answer a question. The absence of such important aid for language learning eventually degraded such a high potential language teaching website.


The Online Concordance Analyzer

The Online Concordance Analyzer (mp3)

Learning Vocabulary with Just The Word

When a English Language learner have difficulty with a word, on how to use it, and is there any alternative to it, this website will provide a full aid on how showing how a word can be used in any word class: verb, adjective, etc. As stated by the programmer of Just The Word, this website is a new generation of aid, which is by using technology, instead of using a dictionary or thesaurus, to help learners with English writing and choosing the appropriate words in their piece of writing. Just The Word is based on a huge amount of English text analysis, and these data gained from the analysis help to built this web site, with the main motive of helping new learners of English on choice of words or simply by suggesting improvements. There are two types of modes the learners or users of this website can choose from: 'Thesaurus' or 'Learner Errors'. By choosing the 'Thesaurus' button, the website will show semantic proximity. However, by choosing 'Learner Errors', this website will use a corpus of actual learner errors of all types by speakers of various languages. Below is the link to the page and a picture of how the website looks like:



Show Combinations of Words

In Just the word, there is about 80,000,000 words of the British National Corpus (BNC). Below is the how learners can look for words in this magnificent website:

"Type a word into the box and hit return or Show Combinations. JustTheWord will give you a detailed description of the company which that word keeps in modern-day English. To help you find your way to the information you need, in the right-hand frame you'll find the part(s)-of-speech and the types of relation that the word is found in. If you're looking for the right adjective to modify a noun you've chosen, click on the 'ADJ mod ' link. If you want a verb with the noun as its object, follow the 'V obj ' link. Within many types of relation you'll find the uses of the word clustered into groups with a similar meaning. The words that are not assigned to a cluster are grouped together at the end of the relation."

Above is a description from the the programmer on how to use this website and what to look out for. The green bar beside each combination will notify the learners of how strong it is. Technically, the bar shows how often he combination occurs in real life writing and speaking. Hence, learners will have a sense of awareness on how often these words had been used. Below is a picture taken of the a word searched:




What is good or bad about JustTheWord?


This website is primarily good for language learners. This is because the website is totally language-based and will aid student in their vocabulary and choice of words. Besides that :
  • It's free
  • Two type of modes to choose from
  • Examples of sentences on how to use the vocabulary
  • Different forms of a particular word
  • Word class is stated
I have not notice any downside of this website. If any of my viewers discover any disadvantage of this website, please notify in the comment below. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vocabulary in Word Clouds

Vocabulary in Word Clouds (mp3)

Introducing Wordsift.

What is Wordsift and the purpose of the website?

Wordsift is a website that allows teachers to insert text and play with the results. When Wordle makes colourful word clouds, Wordsift takes the most used 50 words of the passage that the user inserted and brings up Google images that use the Visual Thesaurus word-cloud web on the page. This is a quotation from the creator of Wordsift:

"Wordsift was created to help teachers manage the demands of vocabulary and academic langauge in their text materials. We especially hope that this tool is helpful in supporting English Langauge Learners. We want Wordsift to be a useful tool, but we also want it to be fun and visually pleasing. We would be happy if you think of it playfully- as a toy in a linguistics playground that is available to instantly capture and display the vocabulary structure of the texts, and to help create an opportunity to talk and explore the richness and wonders of language. " (Wordsift, 2010)

By looking at what the statement made by programmer in Wordsift, there is no doubt now that Worsift is a tool for education. By what is the usefulness of this website? Below is the link to the Wordsift and steps that can be done in the website




After inserting the text, Press Sift.

On the lower right corner of the picture above is the previous page before proceeding into the current page showed. Users are allowed to copy and paste a text into a blank space provided. After pasting the text, press Sift and Wordsift will take the most used 50 words of the passage that the user inserted.

A cloud of vocabulary will appear after pressing the Sift button.

After hitting the Sift button, a word cloud of the most used 50 words of the passage will appear. There are different sizes of the words appear in the cloud. The words are clickable, and by doing so, pictures from Google will appear under the tag of the word. Besides that, there will be a visual thesaurus at the bottom of the word cloud. The website will show parts of text that uses the vocabulary below the visual thesaurus, enabling the students to understand more on how that particular vocabulary can be used in an actual sentence.

Here are some pictures of the Google images, visual thesaurus and the parts of texts:






What can be done using this tool?

There is a lot of activities that can be done by using this tool. One of the basic activity is by using the text and images to create worksheets of important vocabulary words. Students too can sort words by subject area to create vocabulary cards with synonyms. Wordsift will aid the students in finding important vocabulary words from the text, and acquire those words for their future use. Besides that, teachers or the students can make use of the vocabulary words and images to be presented through PowerPoint or Word to be share among everyone.

What i like about Wordsift.

There are a few advantages that makes me prefer this website to teach vocabulary. These advantages are:
  • Free
  • Allows copy and paste of text
  • Sort out the 50 most used words
  • Visual thesaurus provides synonyms for the word
  • Google images provides pictures linking to the word
  • Provide the example of texts using the particular word

Disadvantages

However there are a few weakness as well:
  • Words that are useless, but is frequently used in the text, such as pronouns (name of a country, etc) is in the word cloud as well
  • The words can confusing and overwhelming, as the students need to look at 50 words in a go.



Colours, Clouds, and Vocabulary Combined in One

Colours, Clouds, and Vocabulary Combined in One (mp3)

Wordle- The Online Vocabulary Tool

Generally, today's students are mostly visual learners and word clouds provide visuals for students to interpret and understand the words and language on a deeper level. In addition, colours effect memory and the brain;s capacity to retain more information. In other words, a colour picture is easier to remember compared to a picture of black and white. Hence, by combing colours and visuals in language teaching, teachers may increase students' attention and retention. Will you teach students new group of vocabulary by using a plain text, printed on a plain white piece of paper, or teaching students using this example:

I will definitely will agree teaching the students by using the word cloud above, filled with wonderful colours and word style. Hence, in this post, I will introduce a new website called Wordle. Wordle allows not only teachers to create word clouds as above to teach the students, students themselves can make full use of this website to search for new and frequent vocabulary in a text. By providing a short text or full article into a blank space in the website, this magnificent will produce a visual Tag Cloud of the most common words used in the text. Below is the link and a picture describing how and what can be done in creating a word cloud using Wordle:




1) Insert your text.

There is a large white blank space in the middle of the webpage. In that blank page, users are allowed to copy and paste a short text or an article into that space. After pasting in the text, press Go, and the webpage will lead you to the next page.

2)Word Cloud created.

After clicking Go in the previous page, a word cloud of the new and frequent vocabulary used in the text will be created. Users are allowed to edit the word cloud, which i will describe in the following step. When the user is satisfied with the cloud created, the user can either save it, or PRINT it out.

3)Editing your word cloud.

In this section, users can edit the word cloud in any ways that they desire. There are a few options available for the users to edit their word cloud.
  • Language- Insert or cut out any language that the user wants in the word cloud from the text.
  • Font- Users get to choose from a large variety of beautiful style of fonts.
  • Layout- Edit the way of the words is shown in the word cloud, such as horizontal, vertical, mix, etc.
  • Colour- Users get to choose a variety of colours prepared by the creator of Wordle to use for the vocabulary in the word cloud, or the users can edit the colours of the word cloud by selecting the colours manually.

Below are a few beautiful examples of word clouds:





Is it useful in teaching language in a language classroom?

Wordle is basically link to vocabulary, so it has a direct link to language teaching and language classroom. It all depends on how the teacher wish to teach the students and also the level of the students. However, the level of students is usually related to the level of the text inserted to make the word cloud. The word cloud can be used in language teaching in many ways. Educators can use it to teach it through traditional way of teaching, such as having the students to define or explain to each other each vocabulary in the word cloud. This activity can be done as a post-reading activity, at the very end of the lesson. Besides the traditional way of teaching students language using Wordle, these are some other ways that a teacher can use to teach using word clouds:
  • Have the students to create a Wordle themselves as an ice breaking activity.
  • The teacher could assign each group of students of what they are about to study and have them come up with as many facts as they can. After writing down their words, they can present their Wordle to the class and compared with other groups.
  • Students are required to create a Wordle from a reading assignment to use as a pre-reading activity.
  • Give students a specific topic, such as 'friendship' and have all the students to use Wordle shown in the screen to seek out all words related to friendship.

Advantages

Wordle is a superb website and now is one of the most famous vocabulary teaching tool, spreading among all teachers around the world. This is due to the advantages the website got to offer, such as:
  1. It's free.
  2. No account is needed
  3. Wordle is easy as 1,2,3
  4. Users are able to print out the word cloud for classroom activities purposes

Disadvantages

However, there are too disadvantage in using this website; and the weakness is that the users could not edit the format of the words shown in the word cloud.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Presenting your PowerPoint with a Voice of its Own

Presenting your PowerPoint with a Voice of its Own (mp3)

Brainshark Presentation
Brainshark, an online presentation technology, is basically designed for business individuals such as marketers, sales people and executives for them to upload and present their presentation for business purposes. Users are able to upload their personal presentations onto their secure online myBrainshark account. When users uploaded their presentations on Brainshark, the system will automatically convert the presentations to a format supported by the system itself. Files such as .ppt, .pptx and .odp are accepted by the system to be converted to be used for the online presentation. Besides that, the maximum file is as large as 200mb and users are able to apply background music for the online presentation. Below is an example of Brainshark and its link to the webpage:




As stated above, brainshark is able to accept Microsoft PowerPoint as one of the sources to be converted to fit its compatibility of its system. After uploading the PowerPoint, users can use the telephone or computer microphone to record voice narration. Users will narrate the points and elaborate what they wish to convey as the voice recorder records the voice of the user on the particular slide. After saving the best voice narration for the slides, the user can move on the next step on narrate the next slide. Furthermore, users too can add additional features such as background musics. Below are some pictures of steps to be taken notice during narration of the slides:

Types of presentation that can be done :

  • Add voice to Power Point
  • Narrate a document
  • Upload a video
  • Make a photo album
  • Produce a podcast


Steps to be done for a PowerPoint narration:




Number of slides

As shown in the picture, that column shows the number of the slides. The slides is in the same order when the PowerPoint presentation is uploaded.

Visible part of the current slide

The large screen on the left of the column will show exactly what is in selected. This screen will ease the users to narrate what they wish to convey in the current slide.

Voice recorder (controller)

The voice recorder will act as the controller for the awesome device. Users can retake the narration if there is an error during narration, discard useless or error voice recording and also save the voice recorded.

Time duration for voice recording

In this column, there will be timers recorded for the duration of the narration for selected slides. Every slides has its own time duration besides it.

In the final stage, after saving and editing the voice-based presentation, the final Brainshark can be delivered via a Web link or can be embedded in a Web page, for example, in Blogger. Below is a product of narrated PowerPoint Presentation of my bibliography:




You can even go to my Brainshark page to view it through this link:

Is it useful for language learning and teaching?


This website is very useful when it comes for language teaching and also sharing ideas with all the educators around the world. By preparing a PowerPoint presentation, the user is able to voice out his or her opinion on a certain subject or field and viewers can ask or give advises or opinion on the presentation itself. Besides that, language teachers can use this website to provide the classroom with a narrated PowerPoint Presentation, which may excite the class more and making language teaching in the classroom more enjoyable. Students may even learn more because students will not only listen to what the teacher narrated, but they will view as well what is the teacher talking about, enabling them to understand more about the subject being taught.

What I like about Brainshark:
  • Is free
  • Provide a list of services for users
  • Is easy to use
  • Providing visual and sound materials in a same time to the students in the classroom
  • PowerPoint presentation can be viewed by every viewers, as long as the slide is set for public views.
  • Sharing ideas to every educators on a particular topic
What I dislike about Brainshark:
  • Takes up a lot of time for narration
  • Requires constant use of internet as recording is activated and saved using internet
  • Facilities such as computers and laptops are needed
  • No face-to-face interaction





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Say It, Paste it!!

Say It, Paste it!! (mp3)

Voice your thoughts through the magnificent device - The Wallwisher

By the name itself, the original function of this free public website is to enable people to wish during any celebration, such as birthday wishes, anniversaries or other type of wishes. However, people got to know that this website is useful too for education purposes. This is because, basically, online visitors are able to 'paste' a comment to the wall by double clicking on the wall and typing in text. The online stick notes is a very useful tool as people around the world can voice their opinions or advises on the wall based on the main topic of the wall. The stick-notes may include pictures, you-tube videos, Power Points, Excel documents, and also PDF files. However, the creator of the wall must set to 'public' so that the public viewers can add their comments on the wall.

How can I use it as an educational tool?

As stated on the above, WallWisher is a website that allows viewers to voice their comments on stick notes on the wall. There a few ways how a teacher can make full use of this website not only to teach students language, but also to make language learning an enjoyable process. One of it is by making a wall for the students to voice their thoughts and ideas during class or giving the students time to think, and 'paste' their ideas on the wall at home. All the teacher have to do is to create a wall for the students to view and comment on. Below is a link to Wallwisher and how to use this amazing free website:


http://www.wallwisher.com/

Register

This website requires the users to register themselves for using the tool, but the registration is free. All the user have to do is supply his or her email address, and Wallwisher will send a password to the address inserted. Below is an example of the registration page:



Create a wall!!

Congratulation, you have successfully created your own account for this amazing website. The next step is to learn how to create a wall. After we are logged in, all the user have to do is click on the 'Build New Wall' option, and the users will be taken to the setup screen, as the example below. In the setup screen page, the user is able to add a title, a subtitle-text and a corner picture as well for the wall. In the wall URL, the teacher or user can insert any URL ending as all walls will commence with www.wallwisher.com/wall/(URL ending). As a reminder, in the privacy settings, if the wall is for the use in class or for students, do tick on everyone on both 'who can view' and 'who can post sticky notes' in the setup screen page.



Below is an example of a wall full with comments on sticky notes:



This website is very useful in language teaching as well as getting ideas from students. The flexibility of this website has made this website famous not only among educators, but also to the public. These are the advantages of using this website:
  1. Creator can view and delete any inappropriate messages.
  2. Creators are able to highlight important points during presentation or discussions in class.
  3. Student will be able to voice their ideas and thoughts using computers and will not be demotivated as some students may feel awkward to voice their thoughts in the class
  4. This website is free.
  5. Students can insert comments at home.
There are too disadvantages in using this website. This is because the creator need to regularly check on the wall for spams and flamed messages on the wall. The other disadvantages are:
  1. Posting inappropriate messages that will annoy or offend other viewers.
  2. Internet and computer facilities is always a need.
  3. Wall may have too many posts, causing lags from users to log into the webpage.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lets PIM PAM PUM !!! Is That Easy!

Lets PIM PAM PUM !!! Is That Easy! (mp3)

Photos as presentation for Language Teaching
In this 21st century of learning and teaching languages, whether it is English, Mandarin or any other languages in any part if the world, the teaching and learning of the language does not entirely lie on the content of the language anymore, but is whether we are able to motivated the students to learn and acquired the language throughout their whole live. Old learning styles such as drilling no longer seem designed for the modern world, and are instead relics of the 19th century. Hence, teachers need to bring learning of language, well, in my case, English to a higher and advanced level. Visual learning and teaching techniques are one of the best a teacher could use in a class as almost everyone, especially students, learn best through visualization.

In this post, there are two websites that will be introduced. Even though both of the websites are different, the concept of using these websites are the same, and they share one same similarity, which is using photos to make presentations slides to teach students through visualization. Usually, whenever teachers mentions about presentations slides, the first answer they will give is "Let's just use Microsoft Power Point then.". Using Microsoft Power Point is always a choice provided, but PimPamPum-Bubbler, and also PimPamPum-Bookr differs vastly compared to the common used Microsoft Power Point. Both Bubbler and Bookr use real human-taken pictures in Flickers to be inserted into slides in both websites and present the whole presentation to the class when it is done. Below are examples and the links of Bubbler and Bookr:
































How to use Bubbler?

Everything will be explained by using the picture below:



1. Insert the name of the tag, and Bubbler will search the photos for you.

Under the 'tag' column, insert the topic or name of the tag that you wish to search. By inserting the name of the tag, Bubbler will search through all the pictures using the same tag in Flickr. People insert pictures in Flickr for public view and usually, they will tag those pictures with certain names, such as Albufeira, Chinese New Year, Forbidden City and ect. So, the pictures with the same tag as inserted in the 'tag' column will prevail.

2. 17 pictures under the tag from Flickr will be presented.

After the hit the search button, all the pictures under the same tag will be presented in front of your screen in a small horizontal way beside the tag column. There will be 17 pictures presented once in a time. Users can hit the next button at the very end of the line of pictures to search for other photos if they could not find any pictures they are fond of.

3. Picture can be drag to the slide to be used as presentation.

When the users have found pictures that they like, they can click on the picture and drag it to the blank presentation page in the middle of the screen to make it as an official slide of the presentation. Users can drag the pictures to the middle again to make a new slide or by dragging the picture onto a new slide after inserting a new slide at the bottom of the blank slide. You can inserted a blank slide before or after the current slide.

4. Bubbles can be inserted to insert words in the slides.

If the picture have some special part or event to be mentioned, users can insert bubbles onto the slide, so that they can insert words into the slides. This is to make explanation of the picture slide more convenient and visible to all spectators. There are three types of bubbles that the users can get to choose from.

5. Publish it.

After the users is satisfy with all the slides, they can publish it for public view or for their own presentation. Below is a example of a complete and published pimpampum-bubbler picture presentation:





What I like about this website:

  1. Students are able to work on their own and this not only will encourage autonomous learning, it will too creates personalisation.
  2. It's free
  3. A very fun way to create variety in terms of activities in class or topics
  4. Does not violate copy rights as pictures are taken straight from Flickr and users will not be able to copy those pictures.


What I dislike about this website:

  1. The aim of the lesson maybe diverted as students may search for inappropriate pictures.
  2. Time consuming
  3. Once published, the slides can't be edited.
  4. It maybe boring.
  5. Schools need to provide internet and sufficient computers for students and teachers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Listening Comes Together with Writing

When Listening Comes Together with Writing (mp3)

Let Dictation Do The Work!

Dictation is mainly about the act of manner of transcribing words uttered by another person. Through the definition itself, teachers may expect this particular blog is about a listening activity to reproduce words from a dictation. However, we can say that dictation, in the current teaching process, can be considered as a old and boring way of teaching English. And this may demotivated student to continue to learn language, making teaching and learning unproductive. Nonetheless, there is a website that may change the perception about dictation.

Listen and Write - a free online website which uses recorded voices on various sources, such as current and past news reports, a short clip from a movie, or YouTube videos to produce dictation activities. Below is a printed screen of the website and a link is provided at the bottom of the photo:



Listen and Write, as stated in the above, expose students to most recent news and videos around the world. However, one important to be taken notice is that most of the voice recordings are taken from Voice of America. There a few types of activity provided in the website: full mode, quick mode and blank mode. Each mode has its own unique and way of completing the task, making this website even more interesting to be explored and used as an activity in the classroom for English language teaching.



Full Mode

Lets take full mode as an example. Firstly, teachers have to make sure about the text is:
  • The right level of text for the students.
  • The right topic for the subject.
As a reminder, the lowest level of the text maybe fairly hard to complete. Hence, teacher will have to constantly monitor the students, and provide oral advises to any student. In the listening activity, the text is divided into group of sentences. The online device will keep on repeating the displayed sentences until the students are able to complete re-writing the repeated sentences. After the students successfully completed re-writing that segments of the text, only then the media player will move into the next phase of the sentences of the text. The same process will be repeated until the students completed the whole text and obtaining a score for the activity done. Below is an example of a text that recently uploaded and can be done in a language class:



Level and Age of students

Based on the lowest difficulty designed in the website, i will recommend to be an activity for secondary schools students or above. I am not stating that this activity is not suitable for primary school students, but if teachers insists of using this activity for primary school students, close monitor has to been applied by the teachers so that those primary students will not be demotivated by the difficulty of the texts and general topics all around the world. Nonetheless, it will be a great activity for secondary school students or college students as it involves general knowledge and they should be able to cope up with the difficulty designed for the activity. It may be a challenge to students who does this activity, but it will be a great experience and it will guarantee enjoyment in doing it, especially when this activity is done in pairs or groups.


Advantage

As this website originally promotes listening as well as writing(or typing) skills, both skills are great advantages to the students who do this activity. Below are more example of the advantages to be discovered by the students as they indulge themselves into solving the segments of texts on this website:

  1. Introduction to new vocabulary
  2. Practice pronunciation through listening skills
  3. Using cognitive skills to solve the text
  4. There are variety of levels for the students to text themselves
  5. Practice spelling skills
  6. Grammar usage in the texts
  7. Fun and challenging
  8. Exposure to new languages

Disadvantage

There is no doubt that this activity has disadvantages as well. The disadvantages are:

  1. Schools need to have some of the important facilities, such as internet connections and also computers.
  2. Distraction of going to Facebook as there are Facebook application stamped on the website
  3. Students will get motivated due to the difficulty of the texts.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lets learn English using MUSICS!!

Lets learn English using MUSICS!! (mp3)

Improves your English Through Music

Has teaching and learning through memorization and drilling had became one very common and boring process in the classroom? Well, i guess is time for a twist in teaching the students English using a very interesting method- Lyrics and Music. People may be guessing what an odd way to teach students using music, but Lyrics Training has made this unique yet wonderful activity a fun activity to be done in a classroom, or as game during bored times at home.

Students nowadays have taken music as one of the important part in their way of life. There is a increase of music listening as radio gained popularity and music videos are inserted to make music. Hence, by using music's fame, we teachers and this magnificent can use music as one of the medium to teach students English in a more motivating and fun approach. In Lyrics Training, music users just have to choose a YouTube-hosted music video and select one of the three mastery levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. As the video begins to play, the lyrics of the song appear.

The link is as below and a picture upload to show the example of the website:



Below is a picture when the activity is been done in the intermediate level.




As the video begins to play, the lyrics surface up. The students need to re-write the original lyrics as the words will be left out as they are sung. The song will repeat the same line of lyrics until the students are able to fill in all the missing words. However, students need to fill in as fast as possible as Lyrics Training will keep track of the time spent in completing the whole song. In other words, this activity may not only serve as a webpage to teach English, it too can be a competition for students to achieve the highest score for playing the game. And this may increase the motivation and interest of the students to learn English through music.

Level and Age of Students

For this activity, students as low as beginners level and as high as advance level can make use of this web site to learn English. This is because there are different levels of mastery for different level of students to choose from to play. The age of the students usually begins from primary schools and can be as matured as college students. This is because music is such a powerful trend in today's society that any student of any age may have the interest to learn when it comes to music. Hence, this activity may just prove to be one of the most efficient yet exciting tool to teach English.

Advantage

Through the thorough explanation above on the website, teachers should be able to see the benefits through using Lyrics training as the medium to teach English in the classroom. Nevertheless, i will try to voice out a few advantages, so that readers will be able to understand more why i have chosen this website as one of the activities in teaching English. There are a few advantages using Lyrics Training as one of the activity in the classroom to teach English. Advantages are as below:
  1. It's lots of fun.
  2. Increase the interest and motivation of the students to learn.
  3. Learning new vocabulary
  4. Promote autonomous learning
  5. Students are required to use different skills, such as listening and cognitive skills.
  6. Spelling training
  7. Teachers able to monitor students in doing the activity.
However, there is a few disadvantage of this activity, in the sense of utilizing it or reaching the aim in learning English. Here are some of the disadvantage:

Disadvantage

  1. Schools need to provide internet connection and also computers, which may prove as a nuisance to rural schools.
  2. Speakers of the computer need to be fully functional as students get the answers through listening skills.
  3. Students may not learn important part of acquiring English such as grammar and sentence structure.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fun in Learning English through Movie Making

Fun in Learning English through Movie Making (mp3)

The Movie Making engine Educates English (Dvolver Moviemaker)

English learning in this current society has expended to a certain limit that English learning is possibly through variable ways. One of the biggest contribution towards English teaching is via technology. No one can doubt that technology now may act as a necessity in one's life, compared to as a luxurious service.So, today, i will introduce a website that, in my opinion that will sure come in handy in language teaching and also learning. The link is as below:


Here is an example of the main page of the website




A brief explanation on Dvolver Moviemaker

Dvolver Moviemaker is an interesting website in enabling users to create their own movie. Well, isn't movie making a complex process? The process will include selecting the characters, the settings of the movie, the dialogue, and etc. However, as complex as it may sounds, this superb website intelligently provide step-by-step processes in creating a fun and creative short movie to be presented in class or simply as a homework to be sent to the teacher via email (provided at the end of the movie making process).

Level and Age

This movie maker is an excellent tool for teachers to teach English in various levels. Students as low as primary school or as high as college students, in learning English, will certainly find this website useful and simple to use. Well, teachers should expect the levels of English in the dialogues to differ, as students of levels such as primary school will create a movie with a more simple context, and the expectations may grow as the age of every students increases. Nonetheless, regardless of any age or levels of English the students have, this movie maker will be an enjoyable activity to be done in the classroom or outside the classroom.



The above short movie is a movie made using Dvolver Moviemaker. It may look complicated, as there are dialogues, characters and also music inserted into that short movie, however, the steps are as simple as 1,2,3. Below are ways on using the online media:



Advantages and Disadvantages:


Dvolver Moviemaker has taken English teaching and learning to a whole new level, as compared to the traditional English teaching methods, such as drilling, communicative language teaching and etc. All this methods has its own strong and weak points. Hence, what are the strong points of using Dvolver in teaching an English language classroom? Here are some key points which may prove the importance of adapting technology into English language teaching.

Advantage:
  1. Students are able to express freely their thoughts and ideas in English.
  2. This activity will build up interest among the students, as this activity is fun and enjoyable
  3. It focus more on the language used compared to traditional grammar.
  4. Teachers are able to monitor the progress of the students while they are making a movie.

With these advantages, teaching and learning English in a language classroom not only will be efficient, it will to be an enjoyable and fun class. Nonetheless, there are walls that stands between these so-called 'advantages'. Below are some of the important factors that may prevent this activity from proceeding or back-firing the main aim of the activity.

Disadvantages:
  1. Students may apply inappropriate language in the dialogues as students are granted the freedom to insert any form of dialogues.
  2. Time consuming
  3. Not every students or schools are provided with computers or internet, especially rural areas.
  4. The knowledge in using technology between a teacher and students may differ vastly.