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Mimicking the annual “All-Japan Phone-Answering Competition” in the digital audio lab?

One of my first endeavors in a digital audio lab was pairing distant students over the headphones to have them practice doing business over the phone in Spanish. Today’s New York Times article on the annual “All-Japan Phone-Answering Competition” made me wonder whether a digital audio lab could not mimic this also (especially since the digital audio lab is quite conducive to “drilling in” rules and – as the competition does, too – focusing on intonation and articulation).

“Formal phone answering is serious business in Japan, with many rules intended to head off offensive or awkward moments. A search on Amazon’s Japanese website found more than 60 books specifically on phone manners, and dozens more on business etiquette in general. Most appeared to be aimed at women, like “How to Talk Like a Workplace Beauty.”
A polite office worker picks up calls during the first or second rings; if, for unavoidable reasons, the caller is left waiting for three rings or more, an apology is in order. The conversation itself is carried out in a formal, honorific spoken form of language — peppered with exclamations like “I’m horrified to ask this request, but …” At the end of the call, the receptionist must listen for the caller to hang up before putting down the receiver. Hanging up first is a serious faux pas. (…)

Each contestant runs through a three-minute conversation. Judges scrutinize the conversations for impeccable Japanese phone etiquette: good tone, volume, speed, pronunciation, articulation and use of words. A strong contestant takes appropriate pauses between phrases, and stays friendly, but not overly friendly. Throughout, proper exclamations to signal attention and empathy must be used.”

The latter scrutinization could possibly be conducted as a peer evaluation.

The Times article seems highly critical of the traditional, clerical role of women who still dominate  these competitions. However, in the reader commentaries, there is an interesting backlash from people who have experienced, enjoyed and brought back Japanese culture to this country.

So the lesson plan sounds like it could quite easily transcend the above digital audio lab utilization into  the intercultural realm and lead to interesting comparisons and discussions.

How to type phonetic symbols on a computer

2013/11/16 2 comments
  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. http://westonruter.github.com/ipa-chart/keyboard/: Sounds are systematically organized. Suitable for learners, but also good for teacher demonstrations. image
    2. Partially based on keyboard shortcuts: http://www.ipatrainer.com/user/site/index.php?pageID=ipawriter: image
      1. http://ipa.typeit.org/full/: 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. i2speak.com (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. http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/resource/phonetics/: 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).
    2. http://staff.washington.edu/dmontero/IPACharmap/.
    3. http://sourceforge.net/projects/allchars/: 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. http://email.eva.mpg.de/~bibiko/downloads/uniqoder/uniqoder.html: 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

image

  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 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.

How a student can easily complete an audio recording assignment in Moodle, using the new NanoGong plugin

  1. Open your assignment (note the loudspeaker/dummy icon for NanoGong assignments/) from the Moodle landing page.CAM03104
  2. Unfortunately, there are a considerable number JAVA warning dialogues to bypass during NanoGong activities before you can even see the recorder plugin on the page, and may be more when you try to submit.
  3. Once you are on the NanoGong assignment page: click red button to record, image_thumb[10]
  4. Make sure the volume meter shows input when speaking (loud enough) or playing back: image_thumb[13]
  5. After recording, submit: image
  6. After submitting,
    1. You can still edit your submission, by
      1. (1) deleting your recording or
      2. re-adding – or (provided your teacher’s assignment allows for (3) multiple recordings)  just adding – (2) your recordings
      3. or adding a (4) message to the teacher
    2. you can also revisit this page to read (5) feedback the teacher gives you about your recording:CAM03108
  7. Experiencing issues? Check troubleshooting page here.

How a teacher can easily assign an audio recording in Moodle, using the new NanoGong plugin

  1. We are back in business with easy audio recording assignments in the LMS, thanks to NanoGong – the free recorder I recommended when first starting here – now being available in MOODLE (presumably with the Upgrade to Moodle 2, I almost missed that….)
  2. To assign, click “turn editing on”, “Add activity or resource”, select “NanoGong voice activity”, as pictured below: image
  3. There are a few interesting options:
    1. you can limit the duration
    2. you can limit the number of recordings (attempts?) allowed  (0 is unlimited)
    3. You can let students listen to each other recordings. (Is there a rating feature that can be combined with this?) image
    4. And this is what
      1. you will see (TBA:read on for how to listen to student submissions, give feedback and grade.)image
    5. your students will see…

Courseworld.org offers foreign language learning video clips

  1. Over a 100 videos currently available: image
  2. Summaries show when you hover over a video tile: image
  3. Can it beat YouTube.com for scope? Can it beat textbook-integrated videos for applicability? Likely not, but you may find an add-on for your course, and even more for self-study.