Category Archives: Audio

My latest Tech Crush: Fluentkey. An Interactive Listening Competitive Game

If you have been following me for a while, you must know that I am deeply into technology. I don’t know how it happened. I am not a digital native. Far from it. I don’t know. I think it was love at first sight. We have been together for almost 14 years and I don’t think we are going to split up anytime soon.

Technology is so integrated into my lessons that I no longer realize how often or how many different activities I have created with a certain tool. Technology is just part of the lesson and using it feels like having a break. Like  having a shower after a long day. Students are beginning to tune out? Time to introduce an activity created with a digital tool. Carefully planned, of course. With methodology, of course.

Anyway, the hardest question I’ve been asked lately has been, “What’s your favourite digital tool to use in class?” Well, this is hard for me to answer. I have so many. The question I  automatically asked was: What for? There are some tools that are more versatile than others but if I had to answer, I’d wince( I love so many) and say the ones where students can take an active role and that add an element of healthy competition. And the tool I am going to share with you today offers that.

Can you imagine a tool, just like Kahoot, but for Listening Comprehension activities? That’s what FluentKey.com/live is.

There are lots of different ways we can exploit video or audio in class. Some more engaging than others. Well, let me tell you that Fluent key is totally engaging. It is just the tool I was waiting for. It makes listening fun by turning real-life videos into an interactive game student can play using their mobiles.
Created by two language teachers, Hollin Wakefiled and Hugo Xiong and a software engineer Tajddin Maghni, it is bound to revolutionize the way we do listenings.

What is Fluentkey?

FluentKey Live is an interactive classroom listening game. The teacher displays a video on a projector while students race to answer comprehension questions on their own devices and compete for the highest score.

How does it work?

o Register for free
o Find the right video
o Choose Play Fluentkey/live
o Share the code with your students and ready to go!

Why do I like it?
The teachers:

o Are you up to your eyes and don’t have the time to look for a video and create the comprehension questions? No problem. Fluentkey has a library of ready-made videos with quizzes. You can find the right video for your class by using the different filters (level, category, theme). Choose the video, have a look at the questions in the quiz and if you like them, just share the code with your students and get ready to play.
o Do you like the video but need to modify some questions or/and add new ones?? No problem! Duplicate the video and edit it.
o Can’t you find the right video for you? No problem! 😆 Upload a video from YouTube or Facebook (Yes!!. Facebook.) or copy/paste the link,  click on Create a quiz and add your own questions. You can add multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, matching… among others.
o Playing Fluentkey/live is completely free.
o You can adjust the speed of the audio

The students

o The students do not need to download any app. You just instruct them to go to fluentkey.com/live , type the code you give them and play.
o Students can use their computers, tablets or mobile phones.
o They can play individually or in groups
o The faster they answer, the more points they get

The game:

Once you press Play, the video will automatically play until it reaches a question. Students on their devices can preview the question and the kind of question (multiple choice, matching…) but the answers are not yet visible. At this point, the teacher can choose Watch again or Ready to answer. If you press Ready to answer, the answers show up on the students’ devices and a 30-second countdown begins. The faster they answer, the more points they get. Press Next to show the score and then again Next to keep playing the video

What I don’t like

o You cannot change the time students are given to answer a question. It’s always 30 seconds.

TIP: FluentKey was released only this year and they are still growing so not everything is perfect right now. I strongly recommend turning off the subtitles on YouTube before pasting the link on Fluentkey.

I’ll be presenting this tool for the first time in Menorca this weekend. Can’t wait to hear what teachers think about it!

Have a look at my face-to-face workshops: here and here.: the perfect combination of the latest technology and traditional teaching.

Do you Have One Minute? Four sites to Learn English in One Minute

Do you have a minute? This is all you need for these four highly recommended sites I am going to share with you today.

1. English in a Minute 

If you have never watched English in a Minute, I think it’s time!

Centered on confusing vocabulary or grammar points, this ever-growing collection of video clips has been nominated for the ELTons Awards (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards given annually by the British Council)

Why do I recommend these short videos?

  • They focus on real confusing terms.
  • They are clear, short ( 1 minute) and to the point.
  • Transcript for every video is available, so you can also practise pronunciation if you decide to read along.
  • Most of them have a grammar reference
  • Most of them have  a quiz to test your knowledge

Here you can learn about the difference between:

  • Story and History
  • Stop to do and stop doing
  • Person and people

Click on the picture or here

2. BBC News in One-Minute.

Targeting more advanced students, here you can watch the latest news summary from BBC World News updated 24 hours a day. In one minute. As promised.

Click on the picture or here

One-Minute English

Hugh Dellar from Lexical lab is the star in these videos. I love his videos because they teach you real English, the English you might not find in dictionaries but which is essential if you want to understand native speakers. The videos are easy to follow as he speaks slowly and repeats the target word or chunk several times during the recording.

For example: Do you know what the words “sarnie” or “samey” mean?

Click on the picture or here

English in a minute 

And finally, this is another worth-sharing site. If the site above featured British English, this one run by VOA Learning English (Voice of America) explains expressions used in American English although, in most cases obviously, the expressions on the videos are used both in British and in American English.

Again, click on the picture or here

So, here you are, four awesome sites to learn something every day! Enjoy English! Enjoy learning!

Tips and Tricks: Some Essential Basic Tools any 21st Century Teacher should Know About.

Do you know how to download a video from youtube or convert a PDF or a website into an editable Word document? Do you know where to find free images and videos to use in your projects or how to record audio and create a QR code to share with your students and colleagues? Did you know that long URLs can be easily shortened so that they can be shared more easily?

If you don’t, then this post might be for you!

I’m not a digital native. Far from it. Everything I know I had to learn by trial and error. However, right now, you can probably say I’m the typical technophile always on the lookout for new tools to create activities to spark up my classes.

The tools I want to share with you today are nothing fancy. You cannot create activities where your students will ooh and ahh, but trust me, they are going to save you a lot of time and a lot of searching. They have been tested and tried and I have been using them for a long, long time.

 


AUDIO AND VIDEO


Problem: I need to join/cut two audio files and I need to record myself on video/audio

Solution: 123apps.com/

This is a great tool to work with audio and video. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.

What can you do on this page?

  • Cut video or audio ( you need to upload it from your computer)
  • Join two audio tracks
  • Convert video and audio from one format into another
  • Easily record video and audio ( and then download it)

Downside: you need to have the video/audio on your computer. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to download a video. Keep on reading.

 

Problem: I need to record my voice/upload audio and then share it

Solution: vocaroo.com/ 

Vocaroo has been around for a long time. They are even working on a new and improved version. It lets you record your voice in a very easy way or upload a file from your computer. Then, you are offered different possibilities:

  • Download it
  • Share it on social media sites.
  • Share or email the link
  • Embed it on a blog or website
  • Get a QR code

Downside: Vocaroo does not provide permanent storage. There is not a definite age at which messages are deleted, however, it is likely messages will expire after a few months. If a message is important you should download and save it to your own computer as soon as possible to avoid losing it.

 

Problem:  My internet connection is weak and I need to download a video from a website other than youtube.

Solution:  videocyborg.com/

This amazing tool lets you download videos from any platform, even from youtube. To download a video, just get the link, copy/paste it into the box and download it. You can choose to download the video or just the audio.

 

Problem: My school has blocked facebook but I need my students to see a video there.

Solution: get the link for the video and then download it using  videocyborg.com/

Watch the video to see how it is done.

 

Problem: I need to cut a video from youtube

Solution: You need  tubechop.com/

Cut it, get the URL and then download it using videocyborg (link above)


TEXT


Problem: I need to convert a PDF into an easy editable WORD document

Solution: tools.pdf24.org/en/

This is a great tool to work with PDF. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.

What can you do on this page?  Pretty much everything.

  • Convert a PDF into a Word document and  Word into PDF.
  • Split a PDF or merge them.
  • Sign or add page numbers to the  PDF.
  • Remove or extract PDF pages.

 

Problem: I need to convert a website into a PDF file or an editable WORD document

Solution: documentcyborg.com/

You only need to copy and paste the URL into the box, choose the format and download it and save it on your computer. You don’t even need to register.

 

Problem:  I have a scanned PDF or an image with some text and I want to extract the text

Solution:  www.onlineocr.net/

Onlineocr is free, simple and no registration is required. Copy/àste the URL ad then download the text as a Word document among other possibilities.

 


SHARING A LONG URL


Problem: I need to share with a long URL  with my students

Solution:  bitly.com/

Sometimes we have to give our students a long URL which seems almost impossible to type without making a mistake. Instead of writing this long URL, use bit.ly to shorten it. To do it, paste the long link in the search box and that’s it.


PRINTING A WEBSITE


Problem: I want to print some content from a website, but I don’t want to print all the images and adverts.

Solution:  printwhatyoulike.com/

Just enter the URL, edit the page getting rid of anything you don’t want to print, and then print it.


CREATING A QR


Problem: I need to create a simple QR Code with the answer to an exercise and download the QR Code to share it with my students

Solution:the-qrcode-generator.com/

Easy to use and doesn’t require registration. Just paste your text and then save it to download it.


FREE TEMPLATES FOR POWERPOINT OR GOOGLE SLIDES


Problem: I need to find beautiful free thematic templates  to make a presentation on Google Slides or PowerPoint

Solution: slidescarnival.com/

FREE IMAGES AND VIDEO


Problem: my students are doing a project and they need to find free images and/or videos

Solution: for free images: pixabay.com/ ;for free videos pixabay.com/videos/

I hope these websites are helpful and save you a lot of time.

 

 
Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.

The 8 Best Audio/Video News and Current Affairs Websites to Learn English.

I’m currently really tied up with checking exams, so I’m going to make the introduction to this blog post really brief.  I’m sure you have enough on your plate, too. June is usually a hectic month for almost everybody, isn’t it?

So, how do you keep up with the latest news? Or maybe, are you one of those who, sick and tired of reading bad news, have decided to completely isolate yourself from the world? I wouldn’t blame you!

If you are one of those, I kindly suggest you make an exception for the sake of learning and improving your English. You won’t regret it! Reading is one of the best ways of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar without studying.If you read and listen to one article every day, or two if you feel overzealous, your reading and listening skills will improve very quickly. Trust me on this!

This is my selection of the best audio/video news and current affairs websites to learn English.

I have looked at the following features in all the websites:

  • If the news is written in levels
  • If the same news is written/read at different levels
  • If it is audio news or video news
  • If the transcript is provided
  • If the site provides a ready-to-use lesson plan for the news
  • Any other relevant additional content

The image below is interactive. Click on the icon and read what each website has to offer.

How else can I use these sites in the classroom?
• Choose one news website from above and ask students, as homework, to read a piece of news they find interesting. Ask them to read the news several times until they feel confident they can retell it. In the next class, ask students to work in threes and share their news.

• The news. Same procedure as above but this time, at home, students will need to rewrite the piece of news in their own words. In class, and again working in threes, students will be asked to assume the role of newsreaders and present the news to the rest of the class.

The interactive image has been created with Genial.ly,a free online tool for creating visual interactive content.

15 Ways a Screen Recorder can Help you in your English Classes

Today I want to share with you an amazing screen recording tool Screencast-o-matic, which has a lot of potential to teach and learn English.

Hey! Wait! I know, you are not tech-savvy. You don’t need to be. Trust me. When you finish reading this post, I’m sure you will be willing to give it a go . The reasons?

  • It’s super easy to use! Do you know how to press a button? Then, you know how to use this tool.
  • You don’t even need to register.
  • It has a lot of potential to teach/learn English.

Let’s start:

What is Screen-o-matic?

Screencast-o-matic is a free (you don’t even need to register) easy-to-use screen recording. You can use your webcam or both. Screen-o-matic will capture everything on your screen and then, if you wish, share it.

How can I use it in the classroom?

As a teacher

1. For correcting your students’ written assignments. We all have been in this situation: a student is ill or away on a business trip, but he still needs to have some feedback on his written assignment. With this tool, it’s very easy to offer visual constructive feedback by giving audio and visual cues.

Have your students send you their essays by email. Record yourself correcting and explaining their mistakes. Then, send them the video. Thanks to Russell Stannard for this awesome idea. Here’s an example uploaded to screen-o-matic. Sorry, I don’t sound very energetic. It was very late and I was dead tired!

 2.  For assessing students’ speaking skill, especially when describing pictures or talking about slides. Ask them to choose one or several pictures and ask them to record themselves. Here’s an example of one of my students uploaded to youtube. Thank you Elsa! 🙂

3. For a variety of speaking activities:

  • To explain a recipe
  • To talk about your favourite group, hobby, family…etc
  • To describe, for example,  traditional games, unusual customs…etc.
  • For first-day presentations
  • For book/film reviews

The only limit is your imagination.

4. For recorded contests:

  • It’s St Valentine’s day, ask them to invent a romantic story
  • It’s Halloween, time for a horror story!
  • Give them a set of pictures and ask them to create a story
  • Give them some words and expressions and ask them to create a story
  • For recorded minisagas (maximum of 50 words)

5. For asessing students’ reading fluency and pronunciation. Ask students to read a given text online and ask them to send their recording.

6. For flipping your classroom. Not every student learns in the same way so it would be a good idea to record some of the most difficult grammar points for weak students to revise at home.

7.  Doing exams at home. You can even make things easier for students who, for personal reasons, cannot sit exams in the classroom. Send them the test and ask them to record themselves answering the questions either in written or oral form. It might be a good idea to give them a time limit to send back the video with the answers. You can ask them to use the webcam, too (for obvious reasons).

8.  To make tutorial videos to explain a task they need to do online or how an online tool works, for example this one. The yellow pointer makes it easy for students to follow your explanations. Example here

9. Help your substitute teacher. You can even make a video to help your substitute teacher if you’re going to miss class.

As a student

10. Using your webcam, for collaborative projects.

11. As an alternative to a Power Point presentation individually or in groups.

12. To do any oral assignment with one or several slides.

13. To state your opinion on any given topic.

14. To record yourself when practising for oral tests.

Why do I like it?

  • You don’t have to register or give your email address unless you want to upload it to their server.
  • You can record up to 15 minutes
  • You can create different folders for your different classes. If you create an account and share the email address and password with your students they can upload their own assignments and have everything neatly organised in folders.
  • You can choose to record only your computer screen, you can use your webcam or both
  • You can resize your recording window.
  • You can choose the microphone you want to use and adjust the volume. For laptops you can use the built-in microphone.

Is it easy to use? Very easy.

  • Go to screen-o-matic .
  • Click the “Start Recording” button and the recording button will be launched.

  • Click the red button Rec and everything inside the frame will be recorded.
  • You can pause or restart or click Done when you finish.
  • Now, a new window will open offering you the possibilities of downloading your video, or uploading it to youtube or to Screen-o-matic.com (to use this last option you will need to register). Uploading to Screen-o-matic.com is free and it has some advantages:

  1. It gives you a unique url or an embed code to use on your website or blog
  2.  You can create different channels and upload your recordings in an organised way. This is particularly interesting if you want to create a channel for your students to upload their recordings.

There is an online version, which works pretty well with Windows but not so well with Mac, and a downloadable version which works with both PC and Mac.There is a free and a pro version, but I should say that the free version works just fine.

Thanks for reading!

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