Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

Protected: Native speaker recordings for Voilà vocabulary

2013/09/12 Enter your password to view comments.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Making computerized vocabulary quizzes for use in the LRC from Prof. Koralova’s Friendly Russian textbook

You can browse on the Group room PC to this folder with the

source files (read acces), you just need to look at the Word versions:  S:\COAS\LCS\LRC\sanako\student\friendly-russian-docx-student-copy


In the source files, new  vocabulary that the students have to learn, appears  in 2 forms

1.       Either under the heading “new words”, mostly with English meaning in a sparate column

2.       Or in the running text, colored in red (and with no entirely obvious English translation  for me who I do not speak Russian, but likely for you).


The target file is here  (in most browsers other than Internet Explorer 64-bit, you should be able to open this in EXCEL for easier editing).


We need Russian and English in 2 columns. The computer program we are going to feed these flash cards into is quite simple in its automatic evaluation. That’s why we need to enable students to guess exactly the Russian from the English flash card side (and vice versa). Hence we may need to simplify the entries in both.


To give a few examples: 

          Complicated lists of variants (inflected forms, similar phrases etc.) need to be broken up into separate rows

          linguistic metadata (like gender “fem.”– but maybe not articles: “la maison – das Haus” -, irregular verb) in a separate column, per language.


I included an example (from chapter 4, section 6) what I think the end result is supposed to look like:


Source example:

ти́хо (adv.) – quiet(ly); тишина́ (n.) – stillness; quiet
никогда́ – never;  ти́хо, как никогда́ – quiet as never (before); когда́ – when
В чём де́ло? – idiom: What’s the matter?
ах да – oh yes
матч – match; game
почти́ – almost
ка́ждый – each; every
ме́сяц – month
всё в поря́дке  (idiom)– everything is OK (lit.: everything is in order)
что ещё на́до? – what else (does one) need?

Target example:













ти́хо, как никогда́

quiet as never before



В чём де́ло?

What’s the matter?

ах да

oh yes













всё в поря́дке

everything is OK

что ещё на́до?

what else does one need?


Hint: the easiest way to get the vocabulary charts Russian – English from Word into 2 columns in Excel:  CTRL+H, “find:” space-space, “Replace”:^t (for tab), then copy/pasting the result makes 2 columns for Russian/English.


Creating site-specifically useful learning content for the Sanako Study 1200 vocabulary testing

  1. The usefulness of the Sanako Study 1200 new (from ver 6) vocabulary test activity hinges on the availability of site-specific vocabulary lists.
  2. Sanako UK
    1. seems aware of this and publishes vocabulary collections for textbooks and assessments commonly used in UK secondary education.
    2. Sanako favors using the built-in format and saving it on the network share that is required  for the Sanako study 1200.
    3. Vocabulary tests are organized and can be discovered and browsed by file name only.
  3. TBA: How could something similar be done in a US HE context? One would need:
    1. establish which textbooks are (and will remain) in use?
    2. are they e-books or would the material need digitization?
    3. is the chapter vocabulary easily accessible as a list? Appendix glossaries encompass usually much more than the vocabulary required to study, so testing on these would quickly become frustrating
    4. how best to reformat the materials (from turning into a table to handling linguistic metadata) for easy use with the Sanako vocabulary test?
    5. how best to publish the  material?
      1. to make it manageable for the updaters: crowdsourcing? copyright issuew?
      2. to make it easily selectable for the teacher: filter by integrated linguistic and course metadata?
    6. Last not least: How to do all this economically? Taking into consideration teacher preference, enrollment, preexisting materials…?
      1. cost lowered if tabular lists of vocabulary already exists
      2. benefit is lowered if online flash card applications already exist.

Interpreting Lab Upgrade: Requirements and Vendors (Presentation 2009-07)

Screen-cast of my Slide Presentation: londonmet-interpreting-lab-upgrade-presentation1.wmv

Table of Contents:


Requirements For A Conference Interpreting Training Installation


Flowchart Digitization Of Learning


Vendor Solutions Categories


Vendor Solutions: Conference Interpreting Category


Vendor Solutions: Classroom Management Category


Vendor Solutions: Classroom Management Category: Face To Face Teaching Flowchart


Vendor Solutions: Classroom Management Category: Comparison


Vendor Solutions: Classroom Management Category: Synchroneyes


Vendor Solutions: Conference Interpreting Category: Braehler


Vendor Solutions: Language Lab Category


Vendor Solutions: Language Lab Category: Artec


Vendor Solutions: Language Lab Category: Sanako Lab 100 Sts


Vendor Solutions: Language Lab Category: Sanako Study 1200


Vendor Solutions: Language Lab Category: Sony Virtuoso


Summary & Question Period


Audience Feedback On Presentation

An outline of the MS-Word Cloze Quiz, MS-PowerPoint Multiple Choice Quiz and Internet Lookup tools for

  1. To facilitate lesson delivery and student interaction in our language lab and computerized classrooms, I am programming two MS-Office templates with interactive lookup and quiz functions and create new/convert traditional language teaching materials in French, German and Spanish with them.
  2. These templates support the learner by strengthening learner autonomy and providing immediate corrective feedback and – in conjunction with the grouping facilities of the centre’s infrastructure – allow for custom-tailored instruction based on the immediately available outcome of formative assessments.
  3. MS-Word-Template
  4. The student can be given additional hints when tabbing into a form entry field.
  5. The student can easily look up words and terms in internet-based reference works and collections.
    1. Double clicking on a word opens a browser window with the corresponding entry in a dictionary of the corresponding foreign language.
    2. Selecting a word or phrase and clicking on a menu item in the lookup menu a browser window with the corresponding entry of various reference works and databases (Figure 3: Look up Internet Reference Works, Figure 4: Look up Internet Illustrations).
  6. The student will receive instant feedback when tabbing out of an entry field.
  7. During quiz-taking, the screen will be formatted (font face, size, spacing, colors) so that the teacher keeps easily informed, whether through a computer lab management system / screen monitoring tool or by a more “pedestrian” approach for student monitoring.
  8. After collection and before correction by the teacher and reviewing by the student, the screen will be re-formatted to facilitate reading outside of the classroom setting.
  9. The template can be used for a wide variety of typical foreign language teaching exercises:
    1. Listening comprehension exercises (Figure 3: Quiz Template with Chanson Lyrics)
    2. Grammar drills
    3. Model imitation drills
    4. Information-gap dialogues (Figure 7: Information Gap Dialogues (Language Lab Example).
  10. Instructors have requested fuzzy matching for fill-in-the-blank exercises, which I am planning to implement by integrating an existing COM add-in that can make available the Levenshtein Distance Metric to MS-Word.
  11. Upgrade of Templates from Sanako Lab300 to better integrate with the new Sanako Study1200 software features.
  12. Teaching Content Creation:
    1. Making subtitles for foreign language movie digitally available;
    2. Programming regular expressions ins VS.Net that match function words (example: demonstrative pronouns in Spanish) to run over these templates in order to batch create fill-in-the-blank exercises;
    3. Importing them into the templates and creating grammar and listening comprehension exercises
  13. Support: Implementing an Error Logging Application
  14. MS-PowerPoint-Template
  15. The teacher can easily lookup words and terms in internet-based reference works and collections
    1. Currently implementing additional lookup options (NLP and Corpus Linguistics (ACORN, BNC, Sketchup), Dictionaries (Visurwords, Wiktionary, Google Define).
    2. A number of templated custom-animated exercises can be used for
      1. presenting students with guiding questions before watching/listening to a target language segment
      2. Revealing correct answers after the segment.
  16. A number of templated interactive exercises can be used for revealing correct answers (word lists) depending on students’ responses.
  17. The templates support typical activities in the digital language lab (interactive presentations with multimedia, listening comprehensions, speaking and dialoguing activities for language learning, view usage examples in my Templates Eurocall Presentation video of September 2007). Teachers can use them as exercise-generating engines: they allow copy/paste of their own exercises into these templates. These templates have the advantage of being able to hook into the rich infrastructure that MS-Office provides for language teaching; they work with all Western Languages (but have been thoroughly tested only with ESL, French, German, Italian and Spanish so far). These templates that are better geared than VLE and other CALL resources for daily use in a computerized classroom environment: easy to author, take and monitor and either multimedia-heavy or focused on human interaction. These templates support the instructor by relieving of routine tasks in favor of well-informed, well-focused non-routine intervention, and extend the centre’s screen-sharing and VOIP infrastructure to provide the instructor with an unprecedented control of the learning of an entire class.
  18. APP delivery format:
    1. MS-PowerPoint: 1 template-file (.pot) and 1 addin (.ppa)
    2. MS-Word: 1 template (.dot – incorporates Lookup application) and 1 COM application (fuzzy matching)
  19. Apart from the templates themselves, there is
    1. Explanation: documentation of the tool
      1. see Figure 4: Template Documentation,
      2. Figure 8: PowerPoint Exercise Templates,
    2. sample materials which illustrate the practical exploitation of a tool the development of a skill or the response to an issue
      1. see Figure 3: Quiz Template with Chanson Lyrics
      2. Figure 9: PowerPoint-Exercises for German History Documentary,
    3. Sample Exercise material: hands-on activities for materials development, skills training or discussion
      1. Figure 9: PowerPoint-Exercises for German History Documentary)
  20. Since January 2008, the templates have been adapted for use in the Aston university Study1200 lab and a series of 3 teacher training workshops has been delivered in May/June of 2008. During that time, the implementation of the distance metrics within the templates has been started also which is currently still in the debugging state (see following slide below.)


Figure 1: Look up Internet Reference Works


Figure 2: Look up Internet Illustrations


Figure 3: Quiz Template with Chanson Lyrics


Figure 4: Template Documentation


Figure 5: Quiz Result Summary


Figure 6: Spanish Movie Subtitling Exercise Creation


Figure 7: Information Gap Dialogues (Language Lab Example)


Figure 8: PowerPoint Exercise Templates


Vendors at BETT 2009

For the interpreting suite upgrade, here is my report from BETT 2009:



Artec = Televic


ConnectED, SANS Virtuoso/Soloist








Two types of vendors:

  1. Full-blown interpreting lab vendors
  2. Generic classroom management software vendors

Follow the links, talk to me if you want to know more and/or post questions/comments below.

Classroom management software Vendors at BETT 2009

I visited a number of more generic classroom management systems (NETSUPPORT, Synchroneyes).

These have limited audio (no recording) support, but provide all the essentials for computer use in class at a much lower cost. Could be a temporary solution, if we add some customizing through in-house programming.

Pedagogical rationale of timestretching audio for differentiating instruction

  1. Context: Higher Education in the UK has made considerable investments in digital lab infrastructure to improve second language instruction in times of deteriorating language take-up in the secondary sector, including widening participation. Digital language labs, apart from generic digital media, suffer from a lack of custom-made teaching materials that take advantage of the pedagogic features of the lab: grouping for personalization of teaching and learning. Pedagogical integration and development is needed to achieve the original intentions. A project to timestretch audio language learning materials for the digital audio lab promises integration software, pedagogical materials and, above all, a model of effective digital language lab use in teaching.
  2. Problem: In times of uneven language provision at the secondary school level and of shrinking language program sizes in HE, increasingly language teachers find themselves confronted with uneven language proficiency in their courses. Digital lab technology can help them to overcome the  “one size fits all” approach and personalize the students learning experience, for a greater inclusiveness in language programs and an increased proficiency boost for both the below and above average proficiency student groups.
  3. During my work with the language programmes at an English university, I could witness – and had to record – that the least proficient students, seeing themselves confronted with what was nowhere near “comprehensible input” (Krashen) for them, not only let the communication break down, but appeared so distressed that, despite being fully aware that their language output was being recorded as an assessment for the teacher to evaluate, started to curse and swear (in their native tongue) – while at the same time the upper portion of the class breezed through the exercise without any apparent difficulty.
  4. Proposed Solution:
    1. Technology to the rescue: The slowing down of digital audio – without pitch alteration –has been, while not a perfectly accurate representation of natural slow speech output, a popular benefit of digital technology in the language learning field for several years now (cf. e.g. Calico 2004), and I myself have experimented with it in the digital audio lab (Model imitation and Question – response exercises) and in publications (cf. Plagwitz, Karaoke in the Digital Audio Lab (2006)).
    2. What seems lacking are
      1. both an application that automates (by monitoring one of the network share directories that are part of the digital lab system) the slowing down (and speeding up) of audio for instructors (e.g. in 5% increments from 70% to 120% of original input) that are too time-pressed for producing materials, or even seeking out recordable on-air sources, and
      2. a model implementation in the digital audio lab (using dynamic grouping of students through the digital lab software) that creates exercises that would create exercises that can benefit from this approach (and can be shared), that applies them in a number of suitable (interpreting, ab initio language learning) modules and that assesses the proficiency improvement with this approach (using the outcome exam and a control group).
  5. Benefits: Greater fluency of both the least and most proficient students is to be expect after they were exposed to – as deemed fit by their instructors – slowed down/sped up exercises – ca. 20 exercises in the ab initio language learning module, practicing a small set of suitable new structures and vocabulary compared, with 2 control groups, and five interpreting rounds of 20-30 minutes. We will operationalize this by reusing regular assignment grading and use a control group, also of module-size, which must also use the digital audio lab, but with “one size fits all” audio.