Voa Learning English really needs some serious exploring. Though I have to say that, in my opinion, the site is a bit of a mess, it could be a great help to some autonomous learners.
What does it offer? The site provides interesting articles based on news and information. The stories are read slowly, or at least at a slower speed and it allows you the possibility of reading the story and listening to the audio at the same time. The mp3 audio can be downloaded, which is also very helpful.
What about the level? Difficult to say because although the stories are read quite slowly, the vocabulary is quite advanced. You’ll just have to try and see.
Stories are divided into Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 and very often there are exercises following the audio.
if you further explore the site, you will find a section “Learning English TV” with captioned videos that will allow you to watch a story while reading the rolling script.
But there are two sections that I absolutely adore that deal with idioms and expressions:
♥ Words and their Stories and English in a Minute where each week idioms and expressions that many learners of American English find difficult to understand are explained. Don’t miss them!
Another interesting feature in this site is that it has a built-in dictionary. You just have to click on any word to get its meaning. You really need to give a go to this interesting site, especially if you like reading the news and are interested in American English.
I couldn’t just wrap up the school year and kick off the summer holidays without mentioning these two interesting tools I’ll be trying this summer to add to the list of useful tools I have been trying on and off in the flipped classroom setting. The Flipped Classroom Concept is the new trend in education. Classes are flipping all over the world. Well, maybe in Spain, it is not so popular yet but I think it has a great potential in classes where the students are motivated to learn.
The Flipped Classroom is a reversed teaching concept. Basically the teacher, through about 5 minute -created videos, teaches the students at home and then “homework” is moved to the classroom. One of the advantages of this method is that students learn at their pace and while some students might need to watch the video just once to understand the content, weaker students will not feel left behind as they will be able to replay the video as often as they like without feeling they are interfering with the normal pace of the classroom. The student, then, comes to the classroom to work on what was explained in the video and time in the classroom is spent on practising, something the students cannot do at home on their own. There is,obviously, more time for student-teacher interaction. In this flipped classroom setting there are two tools I’m willing to give a try this summer and which I thought I would share with you, in case you want to give the Flipped Classroom a go next year.
The first tool is similar to MyBrainshark and VoiceThread, which I have been using for two years. It’s called Narrable and it allows you to upload photographs and record yourself or upload an audio file narrating your photo. When you sign up you only get 5 free narrables but you can get more free narrables if you don’t mind sharing them in facebook.
The other one is a bit more complicated and demanding on the teacher’s side and if you are camera shy, like me, maybe not so appealing but, anyway I’m willing to try it.
It’s called Movenote and it helps you record a video of yourself teaching accompanied by slides. First of all, you have to upload your images or presentations ( it supports pdfs, excel,.. and many more) and then you record yourself using your webcam while you explain your images. There is also the possibility of uploading a previously recorded video and synchronising it with the slides. It’s free , you only need to sign up to an account . The only thing I don’t like is that you share via an url but it doesn’t seem to offer the possibility of embedding it in a blog or website.
I have been meaning to give MentorMob a try for some time and I never got around to doing it but when my students asked me where to revise for finals, MentorMob flashed in my mind and I saw the light. ;).
This little tool allows you to organise your favourite posts or websites into a playlist in a very easy way and then you can always share it and embed it in a blog or website. In this way you can easily organise videos, pdfs, documents, websites, articles….. into playlists and then assign them to your students in the computer room, as homework or in a flipped classroom setting .
This site is plain fun ! Acapela .tv is a new site that has a lot of potential for the language class.
Choose a real character or a cute cartoon and make him speak. Choose from a range of voices that interpret and read content with meaning and emotion. This text to speech tool is great to do dictations or revise vocabulary among other things.
HOW I’M PLANNING TO USE IT
♥I think it might be funny to divide the class into two groups -the class I have in mind, right now, is a small class of nine students; with larger classes I might need to divide it into three or four groups.
My aim with this activity will be to make sure students revise some vocabulary related to money for their next test. So, the class is divided into two groups. They need to listen to their cartoon speaking, write down the words the character asks them to revise and be able to explain them to the other group. Each character will say the same number of words and you know the rest… don’t you?? A competition, as usual, something that I, a very competitive person, just love.
♥My next step will be asking selected students from different courses to do the job. The volunteers will need to go home, register and create a character to revise vocabulary. Obviously, they’ll need to copy the link provided and send it to me so that I can display it when playing the game in class.
What do you think? Will they like it?
Yeahhh! Ok ! Sometimes students deserve a treat! It’s the end of the course and most of them have studied pretty hard for their exams and it’s only fair that you reward them with a class in the computer room playing games!
GAMES??? before you start thinking I’ve gone mad allowing teenegers to play games, iiiin the computer room and iiiiiiin the English class, let me tell you that the games are reasonably inside the scope of what even parents would agree with being academic stuff.
The site is called eslgamesworld.com and, even I, would be returning from time to time to play the games and have fun.
You can choose Grammar Games, Games for ESL Classroon Teaching ( you can play here The Wheel of Fortune, Who wants to be a Millionaire …etc), Vocabulary Games and Pronunciation Games. Take your pick!
Aren’t you dying to try these games?