Archive for the ‘Arabic’ Category

A first look at the Google Dictionary extension for Chrome

  1. We
    1. have not pre-installed in the LRC (for that the extension would need to be more manageable by the teacher during face-to-face classes, which include exams),
    2. but can (with some reservations) recommend the Google Dictionary extension (even though it is only available for Chrome). Here is why:
  2. Google dictionary extension provides an interface to Google define and translate
    1. that is convenient (as quickly accessed like glosses) for reading activities in many languages (Q: is the privileged word sense displayed here intelligently chosen?)
    2. while (for some languages more than for others) providing access to additional word senses, usage examples and historical background information
  3. Interface 1: Tooltip,
    1. for English with audio image
    2. for other languages without audio (even though audio pronunciation may be available in Google translate for that language): image
    3. convenient access (I have been loving the tooltip interface since Google toolbar days)
    4. limited, but useful  information,
      1. a word sense – not that this is still not contextually intelligent (Cannot blame them here!) and hence more than one word sense should be offered (here I must blame them: Boo!!): E.g.  here “arch” should at show more than the most common word sense: imageimage
      2. including pronunciation (not IPA, but audio)
    5. Interface 2 (“more”)
      1. For English, a click on “more” leads to the Google “define”search operator (the related etymology search operator has been reviewed here before): image
      2. Interface 3: unfold the search results by clicking on the down arrow at the bottom to access additional information:image =
        1. additional word sense entries
        2. historical:
          1. etymology
          2. frequency data
        3. translation/dictionary entry:
          1. for our learners of languages other than English, the translation appears right in the tool tip, see above;
          2. for our ESL learners, this seems a few too many steps for accessing this information, although a monolingual dictionary is useful in many instances also.
    6. For languages other than English, a click on more leads to Google translate, which (should get its own article, but for what it is worth) can be
      1. more limiting than “define”: While you are given multiple word senses for
        1. Spanish: image
        2. and to a lesser extent, for
          1. Arabic: image
          2. Hindi: image
      2. for many languages the results are much more limiting:
        1. Even if you look up German or French, you revert back to the (pedagogically terrible) single word-sense original “translation” interface ) image
        2. For East Asian languages, you get Roman alphabet transcriptions
          1. e.g. Chinese with Pinyin: image
          2. e.g. Japanese: image
  4. Still no per-user tracking? Here it would make sense for the user. for Vocabulary learning practice

Neallt 2014 is featuring a presentation on “Using to generate and share vocabulary activities” (William Price, University of Pittsburgh). I cannot attend, but the program inspired me to hold my own sneak preview: is yet another site that provides a variety of flashcard and quiz activities for a given wordlist. A nice example is the “Speller”activity – which proves a text-to-speech generated aural cue for dictation (not included in this video):quizlet-speller-german

Or step-by-step:

imageUnfortunately, the AI seems limited to only 1-1 L1-L2 relationships (which precludes how vocabulary seems to be learnt best: in phrasal contexts):


Feedback on “wrong” user input is color red, aural and visual presentation of the correct form: image

Then the application re-prompts for user input and allows user correction:


This is a “Test activity. Foreign language character input seems easy (but does beg the question since the inputs appear only when they are needed…)


Mix-and-match is called Scatter:


Here is the activity overview: image


Wait, there is more: image

Quizlet supports many dozen languages, including non-western, including ancient, not differentiating between modern and ancient Greek, but the browsing capabilities – admittedly a hard task – are somewhat flat (search and language)):


And boasts 20 million sets (as of today – many consisting of 2 terms or few more). As so often, usefulness for class instruction hinges on the availability of textbook-aligned vocabulary lists. However, if you have them with your textbooks, Quizlet makes it automatic to generate uploaded materials into exercises.image

However, as said, you may not like how much you have to dumb it down.

Download for free Arabic diacritizer, romanized to Arabic script converter for Office 2013

2013/12/20 3 comments
  1. The Arabic Authoring services help users read and write Arabic faster.
    1. Maren Reader helps users read Romanized Arabic by converting the Romanized script into Arabic script.
    2. Diacritizer restores the missing diacritics in the Arabic text, which allows users to write text without diacritics and have the service restore them.”
  2. image
  3. These tools should be useful for fledgling learners of Arabic – but don’t solely rely on them, since computers processing human language still make errors.
  4. These tools were developed by Microsoft Research Labs Cairo, learn more about them.

How to type phonetic symbols on a computer

  1. Web-based On-screen-keyboards (point-and-click; low learning curve, but no fast typing speed; typing into a textbox from where you can copy/paste the result into other programs):
    1. Sounds are systematically organized. Suitable for learners, but also good for teacher demonstrations. image
    2. Partially based on keyboard shortcuts: image
      1. Other than the English version, the full version includes non-English sounds. The interface is optimized for fast typing (sorted by keyboard key). Presumably better for teachers using a screen projector as a whiteboard. image
      2. (reviewed here earlier): imageimage
      3. Update: Richard Ishida’s seems also impressive,
        1. image
        2. and you can use phonetics terminology to get characters selected, like so: image
  2. Windows-based:
    1. MS-Windows keyboard layout. May be good for even faster typing, if you can memorize the keyboard layout or add keyboard stickers (we unfortunately have too many languages vying for our hardware keyboard space already). Requires download & installation (may be added to the LRC keyboards during next imaging if we receive enough requests).
    3. If you are use to the ALT+### method of entering characters and are still on XP, this may be for you: You can generate your own keyboard shortcuts for phonetic characters.
    4. MS-Word:
      1. Allows to select IPA-Symbols from a toolbar. Untested.
  3. There are also always X-Sampa and CXS and ASCII-IPA: ways of writing IPA in plain ASCII messages  – but yet another thing to teach novices in phonetics may be a bridge too far.

How to create screencasts of student presentations for the language learner ePortfolio in the digital audio lab


  1. Students can now easily video-record their own screens during class presentations – not only when using PowerPoint; instead students could demo a website, like their Facebook page.
  2. Last year, we were limited to PowerPoint’s record slideshow with timing and narration feature, and either send the PPSX (small, but requires the PowerPoint viewer) or the “Save as” video (new in PowerPoint 2010; computing intensive and large file size).
  3. Now with MS-Community Clips, screencasts are
    1. minimal effort to create (keyboard shortcut WIN+ALT+R or T; save on desktop; drag/drop into Sanako homework folder)
    2. and little effort to distribute:
      1. Students could have uploaded to a Moodle’ file upload assignment (default file size limit: 64MB) or Kaltura file upload assignment (not sure whether there is a size limit). This seems more suitable for assignments with screencasts recordings.
      2. In this instance
        1. Sanako collected the Homework files to the Sanako share,
        2. my langlabemailer emailed them as attachment (so far tested to allow for 25MB attachment size, the equivalent of 7-8 minute screencast, a hefty space to fill in L2!  We also established: 45MB is too much… Smile)  to the originating student and teacher, for review, grading –
      3. and – provided it passes muster as an attractive and significant piece – possibly for re-use in the student’s language learner ePortfolio.
  4. In addition,
    1. Before the presentations, the teacher easily collaborated on proof-reading the slide decks of individual students, by using the Sanako Remote control screen sharing feature.
    2. During the presentation, students followed more closely – which seemed to increase their attention and comprehension -, thanks to audio and screen being shared to them from the presenter, using the Sanako’s  “Model student” feature.

How can I configure my PC to write in Arabic

  1. In Windows past XP, you can just choose – without first installing support for Right-to-left languages – by pressing +R, typing ïntl.cpl”, clicking ”OK”, clicking ”keyboards and languages”and “change keyboard”.
  2. An Arabic keyboard layout that is commonly preferred by Westerners (closer to the phonetic layout of the keyboard) is a separate download:
  3. A transliterating IME (type on a Western keyboard sounds as you speak, pick suggestions in Arabic letters from a dropdown menu).
    1. Popular choices are Google Input Arabic:
    2. Microsoft Maren: offers more, also morphological analysis. Transliteration tool is linked at the bottom of this post: .

How to use NanoGong in your Moodle course as an audio file recorder

  1. NanoGong is primarily meant for submitting audio recordings to the teacher and fellow students.
  2. However, it can also serve as a simple audio recorder that can save a recording to a files:
    1. accessible anywhere where you have internet access (on a JAVA-capable device. I have not tested NanoGong’s compatibility with  smartphones or tablets, though) and a microphone – provided you/your teacher have added a NanoGong activity to the Moodle Course.
    2. Might be useful for collecting recordings as pieces for your language learner ePortfolios.
  3. To use NanoGong as an audio recorder: Instead of (or on top of/before) submitting your recording to the course, click the rightmost button: image:
    1. and you can save your recording to a file
    2. image_thumb[17]_thumb[1],
    3. in a variety of formats (compressed WAV is likely most compatible),
    4. including in the different speeds: image_thumb[18]_thumb that you de/increased the playback speed here: image_thumb[15]_thumb.