Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Learn a Song ESL Podcast

I posted about this on my podcasting EFL blog, but thought I'd add it here too.

Spotted! a second ESL/EFL podcast . This one is the Learn A Song podcast for ESL students, and is part of Charles I Kelly's site 'Interesting things for ESL Students'

Each podcast features one song (usually a traditional, folk song) and comes with lyrics and notes on pronunciation, etc, which are featured on the website.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Blogstreams Salon Special Session

Come and join us for the

Blogstreams Salon Special Session (Tappedin ASO*)

on Sunday May 1st at 21:00 GMT.

We have invited Peter Ford, one of the coordinators of the Blog Project at
the European Centre of Modern Languages, to tell you how he and his team
have been exploring the use of peer-to-peer collaborative online writing
environments in the context of foreign language education. The main goal of
the project - currently in a pilot phase (in French and English) with
teachers and students from Malta, Czech Republic, and Poland - is to develop
a blogging tool with specific features tailored to the needs of the foreign
language-learning environment.

Peter Ford has taught and managed ICT in both UK and international schools,
and is now an educational consultant at ICT4Schools, an organization he
co-founded to help realize the potential of ICT in education. He is
particularly interested in the opportunities provided by weblogs and other
browser based techonologies...

*After School Online (ASO) is a forum for educators. The scheduled events,
designed for professional development, are open to everyone in the TAPPED IN
community and all guests. If you are new to TAPPED IN, please login 10 minutes before the ASO event is scheduled to begin. This
will allow us to get you where you need to be.

Looking forward to seeing many of you with us!

Aaron Campbell, Japan

Barbara Dieu, Brazil

Graham Stanley, Spain

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Podcasts for EFL / ESL learners

I haven't been posting much lately, as I've been looking at / listening to a lot of podcasts, trying to figure out how useful they might be to English language learners, and even if it's worth trying to get learners themselves involved.

I've been doing that on my Yahoo360's blog. And relating to this new tool from Yahoo, I'm not convinced yet...

There are things I do like about it (see the blog for more details), but there are more things I don't like about it. At least, I don't think I'd use it with students.

Check out my Yahoo360 blog for more on this, and on podcasting.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Yahoo 360 & Podcasting

Yahoo 360 is the new blog/photo managment/networking etc. tool from Yahoo. Like Gmail, it's invite-only (want an invite to this or to Gmail? Just let me know).

I've been trying it out by blogging about podcasting and ELT. Go here to read my Yahoo 360Podcasting ELT Blog.

I've also set up a podcasting-friendly Feedburner RSS 2.0 feed for the site, although at the moment, there are no podcasts to download.

Podcasting is something I've been wanting to try for a while. I think I'm finally going to give it a go, to see if it's worth the time and effort of pursuing in my EFL context...

I have a few ideas for using it with students, especially as a lot of my students use personal mp3 players, and may well be interested. I introduced one of my classes (the students studying Audio-Visual subjects) to the concept of podcasting as a mini-webquest-discovery activity, and asked them to record their findings/opinions on their blogs. I also let them listen to extracts from podcasts that I'd downloaded.

The idea was to make them aware of something that could be of interest, especially as it's a growing trend in their future industry, and also to pepare the ground for possible podcasting with these students at a later date.

The reaction of the students was positive. They all seemed to take to the idea, and said that it was probably something they would like to investigate further. Here's a few of their comments:

Xavi: "Yhea it sounds cool to me...i think its a good idea. Its not fair that just some one can make radio broadcast, now with the podcast this is over..."

Marcel: "Yes, because I consirer that is a great invent to save music and radio programs, and you can to take with you because is little and light, and in this you can put many songs an radio programs and all type of documents."

Nuria: "I think that it is a very good idea because anybody that are interested in radio can try to begin with this and also I think that's good to everybody becuse you can also lsiten only the things that you want. But, on the other hand It'a problem for people that works in radio because they have to compete with them."

I think the best thing for me to do now is to learn how to do it myself, before involving the students, to sort out any technical issues, and find out how best to set it up.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Malaysia Primary and Secondary school blogs

Dot MacKenzie recently shared some interesting blogs via the Webheads group:

Jawishools is a blog dedicated for primary and secondary teachers in Malaysia. It contains links to resources that may be useful for teachers.

The second blog is one containing writing from primary schools in the PPD Jawi district of Malaysia:

Dot continued in her post...

"I have used blogs to present links to teachers, and to put children's writing online...The children had no help from teachers when they were writing. I collected their written work, corrected it, and then inserted it in the blog. More will be added to both blogs as it is written."

SaveAWave and embedding audio (WAV) into a web page

SaveAWave "is a simple, web-based sound recorder for voice messages. You can use it to record voice emails, memos, or voice files to put on your own web pages."

I didn't understand it at first as I used the Firefox web browser to access the web page. Once I switched to Internet Explorer, however, the ActiveX download started and I could see the controls in the top left-hand corner...

I found it extremely easy to use, and using the useful instructions on
how to embed an audio file into a web page produced this test audio file:

width=240 height=45


Interestingly enough, at first I had problems with the code - I found that parts of the code were showing up in the published blog, and the player wasn't working. Then I wondered if one of my Blogger settings was messing things up : I had the Convert line breaks setting turned on in Blogger, so that I don't have to use the html line-break code whenever I want a new line/paragraph. Sure enough, once I'd turned this off, the code worked.

I also made the mistake of trying to try it out using Firefox - the sound file only seems to play using Internet Explorer, which is a shame. Or am I doing something wrong?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Isabel Perez is an educator whose ESL site is very popular, and includes many online activities, exercises, etc. It's particularly popular in Spain. I've just found out that she has a blog, although it looks like it's not been updated since November. A pity. Please start blogging again, Isabel!


This morning, I've been looking at Podcasting (a combination of iPod + broadcasting), thanks to Barbara Ganley's post on the subject on her excellent blog, bgblogging. Thanks to Barbara, I read this
great introduction to podcasting by Brian Lamb of the University of British Columbia, which made me wonder just how I could (and if I should) introduce some of my students to podcasting. As far as I know, I don't have any students who have an i-pod, but...

...depending on the class, a large proportion of them (90% I'd say) do seem to use personal MP3 players.

As Brian Lamb says, the "success of Apple's iPod (and a host of other portable and mobile devices capable of storing, playing and now recording sound files) means that audio can now be accessed by the user anytime, anywhere."

He also notes that "the emergence of new tools that allow an individual to create and share sound files quickly and inexpensively, without specialized expertise."

These tools include Audacity, an open source audio tool that lets users play and record sounds; cut, copy and paste; mix tracks and apply effects.

Podcasting uses the power of RSS to enable automatic downloading to an iPod or computer.

Brian Lamb notes the following educational uses of podcasting: "distance education, self-paced learning, language instruction, aiding students with learning and/or other disabilities, and facilitating guest speakers", but also adds that this list is bound to be enlarged, especially as podcasting has just begun.

So, how could I use podcasting with my EFL students, and what benefits might there be in it?

a) My first idea was to use it with a summer school class. We always organise projects, and one of the projects that is typically produced by a class is a radio programme. The problem with this project is always one of audience. What usually happens is that the students get to take a cassette of the programme away with them at the end of the summer school, or that other classes are invited to listen to the programme the last day of the project or summer school. Maybe podcasting, making the radio programme available on the Internet for other students to download and listen to would be a good idea of increasing motivation, and also may well produce something that other teachers / students can benefit from.

I think what I'd like to do is to connect with another class in another country doing the same thing , and to swap podcasts at the end of the project, if this is possible. Now, I'm sure that would engage the students. Thinking bigger, wouldn't it be great to have an EFL/ESL podcasting project website? A bit like the ipodder site? A place where teachers can upload / download 'programmes' produced by classes of students around the world? Would this work?

Here are some more links that are worth looking at:

How to Podcast