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No usable dual track audio from Sanako Study 1200 version 7 when saving as MP3?

  1. We have not been using the dual track recording capabilities of the Sanako much here yet, or have relied on the diachronic separation of channels that the Sanako voice-insert mode provides. Now, however, we want to apply the Sanako to consecutive interpreting in our MA program where there is more of a need for the reviewing student/grading teacher to switch between source and target language on the recorded dual-track audio.
  2. As far as I remember, dual track recording, one of the core features of the digital audio lab, used to work out of the box in Sanako (up to version 5 on XP?), but to my surprise, no more when I saved a student exercise, the left and right channel were identical (and the source and interpreter voices very hard to separate, the entire interpretation impossible to follow).
    1. I had noticed before that with version 7 (at least, we skipped 6) all recording was dual channel, but simply duplicated the left and right audio channel (isn’t this a waste of bandwidth and storage resources?).
  3. I tested our 7.1 installation (on Windows 7 64-bit), by changing the advanced collection settings, for an interpreting audio file, clapping from the teacher station:
  4. First I changed the tracks to be saved:
  5. Test1: image.This mixes student and program down onto each channel: image
  6. Test 2: clip_image004, Program track only, as expected (no clapping)clip_image005
  7. Test 3: clip_image006 Student track, as expected (only clapping – pretty much)clip_image007
  8. Workaround: After trying whether I can save manually from the student station, it occurred to me to change the file format also
    1. WMA:
      1. dual track
        1. works with “Save AS” from the student.exe (where the mp# options is conspicuously absent, or am I missing something): image
        2. won’t work with “collect” from the tutor.exe: both tracks (saving both is – fortunately – only an option for “save as“ WMA from the  student exe. You can also save only the student track as WMA) get mixed down to one (and the student is far too soft) , as you can witness here: image
      2. WMA is a technically nice, efficient (small file size)  and widely supported format, but does require an add-on installation on the MacOS X, not to mention mobile devices.
      3. WMA on Windows plays in Windows Media Player, but from version 12, Windows Media Player has no easy way to adjust the balance anymore, you have to dig relatively deeply into the OS (mmsys.cpl) itself.
    2. MFF:
      1. dual track works also (saving single track is actually not an option in this format)both using
        1. the student recorder “Save as” (which can also mix both tracks, see above)
        2. “collect” from the tutor.exe: you can fade in the left and right channel with the balance tool that you find in the student recorder to the left of the timeline.
      2. Unfortunately,
          1. the file size quickly gets out of hand: image
          2. and for no obvious reason, the biggest here is 12 times the size, but not longer than the smallest, and also only a 5-minute recording (I know that mff stores also the user’s bookmark information, but  this can hardly be the culprit): image
          3. compare this with how WMA compresses: image
        1. MFF is a proprietary format, which only the Sanako recorder can play. This may be a nice way to get more adoption of the free Sanako student recorder which is great for language learning. However, I had not originally planned on forcing my users to use it who are most comfortable with mp3.
    3. In addition, I now have a the problem with how to switch the Sanako default collection to MFF for interpreting teachers without confusing regular users.

Watch how you can train Windows speech-recognition (e.g. in English)

Example 5: Watch how you can dictate to Windows speech-recognition (e.g. in English) and correct results in MS-Word

  1. Important: Listen carefully: I am not a native speaker, but have a reasonably low amount of errors, because it enunciate, speak clearly and slowly, and separate the words.
  2. Consider it part of the exercise that you will have to re-read and re-type some your output – use track changes in MS-Word:
    1. Make it a game: How good can you get?
    2. If you get really good at it, make a screencast like this one and include it in your Mahara ePortfolio  as authentic evidence of your foreign language proficiency.
  3. Overall, it’s like how I refer to cycling: Beats walking. Anytime. Smiley

First steps with MS-Lync 2013 screen sharing and remote control during support calls

  1. Start a meeting, by double-clicking on somebody who shows as available in your contact list: image
  2. If you then hover over the monitor item at the bottom, you get the option to “present”, i.e. show your screen to the other person your are meeting with. (Multi-monitor support seems good, if you have multiple monitors like we do): image
  3. If you accept the sharing: image
  4. Voilà, there is your colleague’s screen in a window on your desktop, watch her mouse actions: image
  5. The presenter
    1. receives a visual reminder: image
    2. can also give you control to remote control her mouse: image, the result of which looks like that: image
    3. can stop the presentation at any time.
  6. Finally, the presentations can be recorded which could be extremely useful in a support call for later reuse/review either by the presenter or audience. Click on the 3 dots in the lower right of the “stage”window. image
  7. It looks like a basic, easy workplace-wide screen sharing software that integrates with the local accounts could be extremely productive during daily collaboration. To make such a solution a system-wide service for calling support, one would probably need a queue and pool of supporters and call forwarding.

Paper @ IALLT 2013: Driving Tutorial Call Into The Face-To-Face Classroom, and What It Took…

…has been accepted for inclusion in the program for IALLT 2013, June 11-15 at the Pinecrest School (Fort Lauderdale, FL)/Florida International University (Boca Raton, FL) and was presented on June 14: Here are abstract and slide deck:

[office src=”https://onedrive.live.com/embed?cid=4FA3329905D7E1CE&resid=4fa3329905d7e1ce%2185931&authkey=AFswJ0h4LVABrYc&em=2″ width=”650″ height=”528″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”]

Automating language learning listening material creation with Google Translate text-to-speech: The technology

  1. A digital audio lab heavily depends on the availability of, but does not usually come with digital learning materials (and recent exceptions are exceptions for a reason)  Some digital audio materials that come with your textbook may be adaptable. “Rolling your own” has all kinds of advantages (allows for personalization, for both teachers to express themselves, and for students to learn), but can be a chore.
  2. Can the LRC find a workaround?  Here is one attempt: making Google translate (too often abused by students in its original interface) text-to-speech (unusable for learning material in its original interface since severely crippled) usable for digital audio learning material production, provided you have a source text in the target language. image
  3. GoogleTTS can serve as the gateway to better suiting Google Translate text-to-speech features to the needs of the LRC:
    1. imageGoogleTTS allows for arbitrary-length input text (it chunks it automatically).
    2. GoogleTTS produces intermediate local audio files which we can postprocess.
    3. Google Translate’s automatic language recognition remains a sore point: it is not reliable. Unlike Google Translate, GoogleTTS has no interface to set the language manually when the automatic recognition fails.
  4. Batch-download the files from Google Translate, using MS-PowerShell: <
    $global:folder = 'G:\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5'
    $filter = '*.mp3' # &lt;-- set this according to your requirements
    $global:destination = 'G:\conf\programs\GoogleTTS\mp3'
    $global:path
    $global:path1
    $currenttimeFunction MonitorAndMoveFile{
    $fsw = New-Object IO.FileSystemWatcher $folder, $filter -Property @{
    IncludeSubdirectories = $true # ja, brauch ich für googletts i&lt;-- set this according to your requirements
    NotifyFilter = [IO.NotifyFilters]'FileName, LastWrite'
    }
    $onCreated = Register-ObjectEvent $fsw Created -SourceIdentifier FileCreated -Action { # the even monitored is file created - to force recreation of files by googletts, you may have to clear watched folder of all mp3 &lt; 100kb first
    $global:path = $Event.SourceEventArgs.FullPath
    Write-Host $global:path -ForegroundColor Magenta # this works also
    $name = $Event.SourceEventArgs.Name
    $changeType = $Event.SourceEventArgs.ChangeType
    start-sleep -Seconds 2 # The OnCreated event is raised as soon as a file is created.
    if ($global:path -ne $global:path1) # it is a createdevent on a different file from last time - just in caseon oncreated not firing clear cut, but it seems to
    {
    $currenttime = Get-Date -Format yyyy-MM-dd-hhmmss
    Write-Host "attempt copy $global:path1 to $cuurrenttime" # try copying the past file
    # Copy-Item -Path $global:path1 -Destination "G:\conf\programs\GoogleTTS\mp3\$currenttime.mp3" -Force # that worked with the last generated file, wait: the last one is the one that remaisn behind, earlier ones get overwritten
    Copy-Item -LiteralPath $global:path1 -Destination "G:\conf\programs\GoogleTTS\mp3\$currenttime.mp3" -Force # that worked with the last generated file, wait: the last one is the one that remaisn behind, earlier ones get overwritten
    # use parameter -literalPath because files in the temp folder have usually [ and ] inside the name which acts as wildcards characters
    $global:path1 = $global:path
    }}
    while (1) {
    sleep -Milliseconds 100
    write-host $global:path # this works
    }}
    MonitorAndMoveFile
    #Unregister-Event -SourceIdentifier FileCreated
    
    
  5. Merge the downloaded files (wisely numbered sequentially):
  6. image
  7. Fix minor errors in your audio editor:
  8. image
  9. Done:
    1. Here I have a lot of questions for a speaking exam in ESL, and with a much better accent than my own.
    2. Nifty, plus output sounds even better for German than for English. Note, there is no attempt to parse sentences semantically. Some languages chunk better than others (I made some little improvements in this regard to the original program). Other common problems include numbers and in German I find myself, when listening, tending to look up once in a while and shake a high school students by the shoulders, asking him: “Do you actually understand what you are reading?!” Smile– which in my eyes is an indicator to the progress made in speech-synthesis.
    3. Other examples include French,
    4. Hindi,
    5. Italian,
    6. Spanish.
  10. So can the LRC relieve teachers from recording their cue files for the digital audio lab listening comprehension and exam? Within limitiations.

New keyboard shortcuts for diacritics on LRC Teacher PC

  1. The US international keyboard layout that has come with MS-Windows for many years (though – except in the LRC – not set as default, you need to enable it in the control panel) greatly facilitates typing of characters for most languages that use Roman script with common diacritical marks, but does not cover Pinyin and similar diacritical marks.
  2. Carly from Carleton, as avid a language teacher as a technologist,  had the great idea to extend Microsoft’s US-international keyboard so as to include all the Pinyin tone marks (and other accents useful for linguists). Here is the upshot, extracted  from her  instructions, but excluding  what (either shortcut or (use of common accents within Pinyin is now covered also below) purpose) has not changed from the shortcuts of the non-extended US-international keyboard  that used to be the default in the LRC:
  3. What you want Which keys you press (before comma  is “dead” key = no result until after next key) Example

    acute accent, pinyin 2nd tone

    ‘(=apostrophe), vowel

    á é í ó ú

    grave accent, pinyin 4th tone

    `(=grave), vowel

    à è ì ò ù

    macron accent, pinyin 1st tone

    hyphen, vowel

    ā ē ī ō ū

    pinyin 3rd tone

    %(=shift+5), vowel

    e.g. ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ

    ü with pinyin tones

    Accent, double-quote

    e.g. ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ

    letter with dot below

    ; (=shift+period), letter

    e.g.clip_image001

    letter with double acute

    : (=shift+;) , o or u

    ő, ű, Ő, Ű

  4. We are offering the extended US-international keyboard this as an optional keyboard on the teacher and student PCs with Windows 7.
    1. To select the new keyboard layout, use the language toolbar, click on 2nd option:
    2. image
    3. To explore the new keyboard layout use the Windows On-screen keyboard which will let you peek ahead after your pressed a dead key.
    4. To bypass a special dead key (= get the normal behavior of the key), press SPACE after it.