Saturday, February 11, 2012

Use Bubblr to write comments on pictures

What is it, how does it work?

Bubblr is an online web tool that you can use to make comments right on professional pictures and organize them into a slideshow. The pictures you use are based on flicker.

Some ideas of how we can use this website.

  • Assign it as a homework for students to use Bubblr to drill specific grammar points e.g. 'use Bubblr to produce a presentation of the places you are going to visit (simple future tense)'.
  • Assign it as students' homework to make a slideshow on Bubblr, e.g. their hometown, and then share it with their teachers.
  • Next, ask students to write short comments on the pictures and let them be prepared to deliver a oral presentation in the next lesson with more details.
  • Ask some volunteers to deliver a oral presentation with elaborations by using Bubblr.
  • Encourage students to share their artwork to their pen pal in another city/ country.
Why is this tool good for English language teaching/learning?
  • It is a good way to promote learning autonomy since it connects students' life with their development of English writing.
  • It is a good tool to drill some simple grammar points (e.g. tenses)
  • It very simple to use and easy to share.
  • It can be embedded and shared on a blog.
Limitations and points to improve
  • One can not download the slideshow that she/he makes.
  • One can not drag a picture  directly onto Bubblr, she/he must post the pictures on Flicker first.
  • The comments on the pictures might block parts of the picture.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Use MailVU to send video emails

What is it, how does it work?

MailVU is an easy and simple tool that you can use to record videos and send it directly to an email address (email addresses).

Some ideas of how we can use this tool.

  • Ask students to record themselves practicing pronunciation and send it directly to the teacher for feedback.
  • Instead of guiding student to make a 'pen pal' from another country, try to connect and get students into pairs from different countries and become 'MailVU pals' so as to encourage them to practice and communicate by English.
  • Let students to orally describe something/someone by using MailVU and send it to the teacher.
  • Encourage students to ask questions and sending it to the teachers by using MailVU.
Why is this tool good for English language teaching?
  • MailVU makes spoken English homework possible and interesting.
  • MailVU is compatible with iPhone/iPad, so it is possible and more convenient for students to record /practice/ ask questions wherever they are.
Limitations and points to improve.
  • It can only record for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Use mybrainshark to produce mini-lectures/practice speaking

What is it, how does it work?

Mybrainshark is a piece of software that can combine different forms of presentations (e.g. voice recording, picture, video, powerpoint) into one integrated form of exhibition.

Some ideas of how we can use this tool.

  • Add voice recordings to powerpoint to produce mini-lectrues about certain knowledge points, when  a specific is made in students' writing, send them the corresponding mini-lecture link to watch.
  • Make some online-distance-learning materials by adding voice recordings to powerpoint.
  • Teach students how to use this tool, then ask them to make a oral presentation of their life story by recording and commenting on their photos. Next, ask them to share the presentation to the teacher/peers. The teacher can then give feedback to the students.
  • Ask students to read aloud a passage on their computer and record it, then send it back to the teacher.

Why is this tool good for language learning/teaching.

  • This tool can be used to promote distance learning and learning autonomy.
  • Students could keep a record of the lesson and replay the recording anytime they want.
  • It is more interesting and meaningful to give a oral presentation by linking students' life(e.g. their pictures) to their oral practice.
  • It is very user-friendly to use and share.
Limitations and points to improve.
  • It can only record for 15 minutes.
  • Teachers/students can't download the integrated interface of presentation.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Use Language Guide English to build vocabulary

What is it, how does it work?
Language Guide English is a vocabulary learning website on which students can build their vocabulary systematically in a straightforward way.

Some ideas of how we can use this website.
  • Choose a set of vocabulary to teach/learn, as a warm-up activity (pre-reading/pre-listening). Learners would learn some new words and their schemata would be activated by the pictures.
  • After learning the words, set students into pairs. As one student pronounce a word, the other student should move the cursor to the corresponding picture to listen and compare the pronunciation.  
  • Use this website as part of the WebQuest designing to guide students to learn the new words autonomously.
  • Integrate this website and Jing to assist learners' vocabulary learning. First, Assign a set of words as their homework, ask them to learn the words by themselves. Then, with the assistance of Jing, ask students to video themselves pronouncing the set of words one by one following the sequence of pictures. Last, send the video to the teacher, and the teacher could help them correct their pronoun cation. 

Why is the contend good for vocabulary building?
  • Vocabulary can be built systematically: it is ordered consistently into 11 large categories, each category is further divided into more subcategories. 
  • All the vocabulary is equipped with visual aids (picture) and pronunciation recordings, so it is very intuitive and straightforward to learn the words, especially for younger learners.
  • The classification of vocabulary displays good quality with considerable details.
  • All of the vocabulary learning is in close connection with practices and quizzes by which learners could strengthen their memories.
  • Most sets of vocabulary are arranged in three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced level, learners could approach the vocabulary accordingly.

Limitations and points to improve.
  • The vocabulary mainly covers words about objects and nouns. Not enough verbs and adjectives, etc. are introduced.
  • The exercises do not drill students' spelling, it only deals with listening and speaking.
  • Teachers could not add new sets of vocabulary on the web.
  • Learners do not have access to the record of their learning history.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Use WebQuest to promote autonomous learning on the internet.

What is it, how does it work?

WebQuest Garden is an inquiry-based learning online community where teachers can make, update, modify and share any lesson formats on the WebQuest. Then, students are guided step by step to tackle a task (tasks) by using the internet resources (links) provided.  to see an example of a WebQuest format "What shall I wear?" on WebQuest Garden, please click the following link:   What shall I wear

Why is it good for Language learning/teaching?

  • Students are required to go beyond rot learning and are guided to explore and deal with a task  (tasks) creatively. 
  • Instead of focusing on the form of language, students are actually asked to deal with something meaningful in the light of their everyday life.
  • It can greatly promote learning autonomy as a step-by-step guidance of how to learn on the internet is provided. 
  • As more resources are introduced in the conclusion part, it can also support students' further development.
  • WebQuest often draws on the resource of rich, various and authentic information, so could be more interesting and interactive to study and less laborious to produce compared with the traditional teaching materials.
  • As WebQuest is based online, teacher can easily and conveniently update, change their original  format. They can also make and modify a WebQuest suitable for themselves on others' model on WebQuest Garden.
  • It is also a great platform to teachers to share their products and comment on each others.
Limitations and points to improve.
  • The interface is not so user-friendly. 
  • Instructions and advice of how to make a WebQuest are tedious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Using Jing to give feedback


What is it, how does it work?

Jing is a simple and free piece of software that can videotape the images of everything happened on your computer screen. Simultaneously, the video will also record your voice or any other comments made by you. When Finish recording, the video tape can also be easily uploaded to the server and shared to others on internet.

Some ideas of how we can use this tool

  • Mark students' writing by colour on the screen, then use Jing to give students feedback by videotaping the screen and recording your comments. Pass the cursor around to the specific points that you are commenting on. Upload your video and share the address to your student by email.
  • Use Jing to produce and build mini-lectures and share it with the learners. E.g. produce a video tape to teach 5 words on a daily basis and share it with the students; make a video to teach a short piece of the latest English news everyday and share it with the students; make and build your videos of mini-lectures about certain grammar points, send the corresponding video to the students when they make a certain type of grammatical mistake.
  • Teach students how to use Jing, then ask them to record themselves reading a passage on the screen and send it back to the teacher. The teacher can then give them feedback about their pronunciation and intonation.
  • Teach students how to use Jing, then ask them to watch a short video, next mute the video and let students to imitate the dialogue by using Jing to record. Sometimes it is a good idea to let students mimic and mock the conversation.
  • Teach students how to use Jing to make voice commentary. (e.g. football commentary, picture commentary, act.) 

Why is this tool good for English language learning/teaching
  • Teachers can use it to give students more personal feedback in the light of their learning style.
  • It is more efficient to give voice feedback, so it saves the teachers a lot of time to delivering the same amount of information.
  • By using Jing, the teachers can produce approachable, attractive and clear feedback by communing the the image to their voice.
  • In terms of speaking activity, this is a great tool to promote and support students learning autonomy.
  • Teachers can also use Jing to facilitate distance learning.
  • Jing is a very simple tool, so it is easy to learn and deliver the videotape.
Limitations and points to improve
  • It can only record for 5 minutes each time.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Using 'Learning Chocolate' to teach/learn vocabulary

What is it, how does it work? (

Learning chocolate is a fun vocabulary learning platform on which learners could accumulate new words systematically and autonomously .

Some ideas about how we can use this website

  • Use Learning Chocolate and the related exercises as a pre-reading/listening activity to activate students' schemata.
  • Teach the new vocabulary in the class first, then ask students to work in pairs and compete to finish the following exercises.
  • Make it a a regular homework for students to create their own vocabulary sets (with pictures) on the website and share it with other students. 
  • Divide students in pairs and ask one students to pronounce the vocabulary and the other student to do the following fill-in exercise.

Why is this website good for English Language Teaching?

  • The vocabulary provided on the website are sorted in a systematic way. (e.g. vocabulary about amusement park, car, etc.)
  • All the vocabulary is explained by pictures, so it is very fun and straightforward to learn the new words.
  • Various well-designed exercises are followed to help learners practice and memorize the new words.
  • Pronunciation of the words are available. 
  • The teacher/students are also allowed to add a new set of vocabulary on the web.

    Limitations and possible points to improve. 
    • No dictionary is available on the website to help learning
    • Sine everyone can create and share their product on the web, some of them are not systematic enough or the pictures are not clear enough.
    • The account doesn't keep a record of how many new words a student has learned.
    • The website is still underdeveloped with not enough sets of vocabulary.