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Welcome to Tech Talk for ICT in ELT! Feel free to share your comments!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Speechy Project


Purpose:
Speechy Project is an innovative website offering the very best, free language teaching and learning resources and tools available online for foreign language teachers.

Relevance:
For many teachers finding appropriate, free, educational material online is a daunting challenge. Speechy Project however gathers the best resources and places them at our finger tips.

Undoubtedly incorporating technology into one's teaching practice is the current trend in the field of education. Speechy Project, not only provides access to those technological tools, but reviews and categorizes them according to language skill and provides simple but effective suggestions for their application.

Tip:
Visit Speechy Project and go to the section, Resources a la carte and explore your language and language skill of choice. Click on any website of interest to access ideas about how to apply the materials available on the site. 

Limitations:
It focuses primarily on three languages: English, Spanish and French.



New AWESOME Website for Language Teachers bit.ly/neuFbx #english #spanish #french #language #mfl #edchat #langchat #flteach
— Speechy Project (@SpeechyProject) June 19, 2012

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Wordle




Purpose:
A Wordle is a creatively designed collection of words taken from a text with the most frequently occurring words appearing in large print. The website also allows users to work with texts written in a host of other languages such as French, Spanish and Dutch.

Relevance:
A Wordle can make vocabulary and grammar learning more interesting.

It facilitates group work.

It allows both teachers and students to be creative when working with texts or vocabulary lists.

A Wordle can be used to encourage use of the target language in the classroom.

This tool can also be useful in giving feedback to students about common spelling or grammatical errors.


Tip:
A Wordle can be an interesting way to start off a grammar lesson. Select a text from a newspaper, song or magazine. Create your Wordle and distribute among students. Ask students to work in groups to identify a particular grammatical structure, suggest a rule indicating how the structure operates and, using other words in the Wordle, create examples of grammatically sound sentences. Once you are satisfied with the results, introduce the original text and have students compare their sentences with those found in the text.

Limitations:
It is not possible to save a Wordle in a jpeg or pdf format. 


MailVU: Video Email


Purpose:
MailVU is an online video recording service that allows users to record, save, email and post 10-minute long videos, which may be set to self-destruct after a fixed period of time.

Relevance:
If you believe that speaking skills should be an essential part of your students’ language learning then you will find this tool quite useful.

The ability to record on their own, away from the rigid structure of the classroom, may improve students’ confidence in speaking in the target language.

MailVU also allows learners a measure of autonomy in that they can work at their own pace to improve the quality of their video recording.

Tip: To get your students’ creative juices flowing, invite them to pick up the object closest to their computer and make a 3-5 minute presentation about the object.

An equally interesting version would be to ask them to record a story in which that object plays an important role.

Limitations:
I cannot identify any limitations to this site. MailVU is very easy to use.


Here's a simple tutorial video to take you through recording your own video.
video

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bubblr



Purpose:
Bubblr is an online tool that allows users to create and share online picture strips using high quality pictures sourced from Flickr.

Relevance:
If you believe that learning outcomes improve when students are highly motivated then this tool can be quite helpful. It facilitates a great deal of creativity, which may ultimately increase student motivation.

The high quality and wide variety of pictures available means that you can reinvigorate any topic by making a visually appealing presentation.

Bubblr makes it compulsory for students to comment on pictures, which means that they will always have the opportunity to develop their writing skills.

Tip:
Why not introduce idiomatic expressions or proverbs using pictures? Following your example, ask your students to create picture strips that portray idiomatic expressions or proverbs in the target language and/or their mother tongue.

Limitations:
The availability of thousands of pictures means that creating a picture strip is potentially quite time consuming.

There is no way to filter the quality of the pictures; some may be inappropriate for young audiences.

Tags used to describe pictures may not be reliable.

Published picture strips are automatically made public.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

WebQuest




Purpose:
A WebQuest is an educational tool designed to develop higher learning and linguistic skills in students by having them use Internet resources to accomplish real life tasks. It allows students to engage in both group work and autonomous learning.

Relevance:
I am particularly impressed by the potential this tool has to develop students' higher learning and linguistic skills. Carefully designed WebQuests provide students with the opportunity to give sufficient attention to each linguistic skill: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Well-designed WebQuests also result in students engaging in meaningful lifelong learning since they allow them to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information as they work on real life tasks.

Using this tool could contribute to increased motivation in language learning since students will feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing a task in the target language and will also have created something tangible that can be shared with others.

This tool can also be useful in classroom management in that a well-designed WebQuest ensures that each student must make a meaningful contribution in order to successfully accomplish the task at hand. Engaged students mean a more orderly, productive classroom environment.

Tip:
In designing a WebQuest for your students, in addition to your educational goals, you must also think of your students general interests.

For example, it might be interesting to use comments from an online magazine as the text for a reading comprehension (The What Shall I Wear WebQuest illustrates how this can be done).

Also, an online video recording tool can be embedded into the WebQuest so that students can record themselves conducting an interview (job, sporting event, celebrity, etc) or engaging in a role-play activity.

Limitations:
Designing a WebQuest is extremely time consuming. It involves finding the right resources, constantly checking that your choice of activities suit your objectives and constantly remembering to save all changes that you have made before moving on to another page.

It is not the most user-friendly website, some knowledge of web editing is required.

There are many poor quality WebQuests published on the Internet and therefore you need to be very selective to ensure that the WebQuest you choose fulfils your educational goals.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Vimeo



Purpose: 
Vimeo is a very user-friendly website that provides a wide range of high quality videos in a variety of languages that can be shared.

Relevance: 
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that learning should involve more than giving students information; rather it should also include creating opportunities for them to use and apply that information. Use of video in the classroom can do just that!

Tip: 
Use videos to get your students speaking. Select an interesting snippet from a video (I've embedded one I particularly like below). Let your students watch it without the audio then have them suggest what the characters might be saying in that scene. Replay the scene with the audio so they can see how their suggestions compare.

Another interesting variation would be to select just one image from the video and ask students open-ended questions based on the selected image.

Limitations:
The site is designed for the general public and so the homepage offers general videos that may not be easy to incorporate into a lesson. It would therefore be more time effective to click the Explore tab on the homepage or use the Categories page to have the videos listed according to topic.


Temps Mort from Temps Mort on Vimeo.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

MyBrainShark

 MyBrainShark.com

Purpose:
Mybrainshark, originally designed for the business community, has amazing potential for use in the foreign language classroom.
The free version allows users to create, share and track video presentations of their PowerPoints, documents, photos or video clips.

Relevance:
An important aspect of language learning is review/ revision. This tool allows students to make, edit and replay their audio recordings.
They therefore benefit from an increased awareness of their pronunciation and fluidity in the target language.
It would also allow them to track their progress in developing their speaking skills.

Tip:
Outside the classroom, one great way to use this tool to develop speaking skills is by asking students to make an audiovisual presentation on a chosen topic: family, food, favorite hobbies, life accomplishments, vacation, etc and then email the link to the teacher. My video illustrates how this can be done.

In the classroom context, as part of a lesson, students can work in pairs and record themselves conducting an interview, which can then be shared with the teacher or their classmates in a larger online forum.

Limitations:
While the basic service is free, sign-up is required in order to upload documents.

Also, the quality of the content created depends greatly on the teacher/ student’s ability to manipulate the software used, for example PowerPoint.

LyricsTraining














Purpose:
LyricsTraining can be described as the fusion of language learning and karaoke. This website provides a wide selection of free subtitled music videos.

Relevance:
Music has always been incorporated into language learning in some or fashion. This site is excellent because it not only allows the students to challenge his/her pronunciation skills but it is also a fun way to memorize idiomatic expressions.
                                                         
Tip:
This website can really be exploited for listening activities. For example, to develop students’ listening skills, songs can be printed and distributed with missing lyrics. Students can then, either individually or in groups, listen to the song and try to fill in the missing words.

It can also be a creative way to introduce grammar points. You can try choosing a well-known song that contains a particular grammatical structure or tense. That song can be sung at the beginning of the lesson and then students can be asked to identify examples of the particular structure or tense. The grammar lesson can then be continued according to your regular teaching style.

Limitations:
The site is not designed to offer ideas about how you can use songs in your teaching; that depends entirely on your own creativity.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Breaking News English


http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/


Purpose:
This website provides printable lesson plans on a wide variety of current events, along with its MP3 recording and interactive activities to aid vocabulary learning.

Relevance: 
If you believe that students retain vocabulary better when hearing it and seeing it in context then this site is a definite must.

Tip: 
For every news event there are eight possible vocabulary related activities that you are free to use imaginatively. I particularly like the Flash Card quiz. Toward the end of the lesson, these flashcards can be used in a game of Taboo for a fun, creative review of vocabulary met during the lesson.

Limitations: 
This site has massive potential. The only limitation to it really is the layout. There are many ads on the website which makes it a little difficult to differentiate between actual website content and external links.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

LanguageGuide.org

http://www.languageguide.org/

Purpose: 
This interactive website contains a variety of vocabulary items in a number of different languages. It also even offers interactive reading passages and grammar guides in a few select languages.

Relevance
Learning vocabulary can sometimes be boring for students. This site makes vocabulary-learning fun and can potentially motivate students to learn topic specific vocabulary outside the language classroom. Students can choose their level and practice their listening and speaking skills on a variety of topics.

Tip: 
Given that each topic contains labelled diagrams, each webpage can serve as a potential printable worksheet. Teachers can say a vocabulary item and have students write down the word in the appropriate space.

As a homework assignment, students can be instructed to review a particular topic on the website and then write a story using all or some of the items featured.

Limitations: 
This site focuses primarily on audio comprehension and repetition activities, it is therefore up to the teacher to incorporate the vocabulary provided in other skill areas. 

Also, the website is a work in progress: some categories, such as the Grammar pages available in French are not available in English. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Todays Meet



http://todaysmeet.com/

Purpose:
This user-friendly website provides a free basic service that allows teachers to create a virtual log of questions, answers and/or suggestions raised by students while engaged in group work. 

Relevance:
If you believe that language learning is enhanced through giving/receiving feedback or through social interaction then this tool should prove quite useful.

Tip:
In the classroom context, you can use this tool for realtime record keeping. Consider for example, the traditional brainstorming activity. This usually involves students calling out ideas while you take note of them on the board. This can be time-consuming, disorderly and pointless if students do not themselves write down the ideas. Using this tool can therefore help with classroom management, rather than calling out their ideas, students can simultaneously enter their thoughts online which will then be automatically updated and saved online, with the possibility of downloading and distributing for later review. 

Limitations:
This tool's most obvious limitation is that it is only available online. Classrooms must therefore be equipped with Internet-access in order to use it.

Also, in larger classes, it becomes difficult to ensure 100% student participation, since pair work can easily result in one student taking the lead while the other does not participate.