Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Creating a 'karaoke' version of songs in YouTube videos

LyricsTraining is a great site which provides an integration of a YouTube song video with the lyrics, synchronizing the lyrics to the song and letting the listener fill in the gaps according to their level. What I didn't realize is how easy it is to add a song of your own choice.
  • First, you need to create an account at http://lyricstraining.com.
  • Then, find a YouTube video of a song you would like to make into a karaoke version.
  • In your LyricsTraining account, click the NEW LYRICS option, and you will be guided through the process.
Here is a screenshot of my first attempt.  I really like fellow Canadian Diana Krall.  The songs that she sings are relatively easy to follow as the tempo is usually slow, and her diction is quite good.  So, I chose "How can you mend a broken heart?" as we were doing a reading about injuries and the invention of the 'band-aid'.
  • You simply paste in the YouTube URL, and fill in the details.

Then you find the lyrics.
  • Copy and paste them at the end of the SOURCE window (see the tab at the bottom).
  • NOTE:  Delete the '...' and start the paste of your lyrics there.  Find the place in the song when the lyrics start, and change the time [00:00] to that time (in seconds).  For example, if the first line of the lyrics starts after 13 seconds. change this to [13:00]
  • From there, you return to the LYRICS tab, and you play the song.  
  • The RED DOT will appear to the right of the lyrics to indicate that the line will be seen by the listener.
  • When you want to synchronize the next line of the lyrics to the video, you press CTRL+RETURN, usually a second or so before the singer starts on that line.
Then, PREVIEW to check the synchronization.



You can go back and fine-tune your synchronization and fix any problems with the lyrics
  • You can adjust the timing for an individual line, and edit the lines if there is a mistake, or if you want to make a long line into two shorter ones.
Then simply save and mark your STATUS as PENDING.  It can take awhile before the site verifies your work. 

 Here is a short screencast of the above process.



Using this with students???  Hmmmm...I'm thinking that this is something students could do as a project -- find a song they like that illustrates a grammar or lexical point in the lesson, and create their own 'karaoke' version.  What do you think?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meral Cinar: AN ACTIVITY for PRACTICING CAN/ CAN'T

Great example of how a METU NCC SFL instructor can share her teaching ideas via her blog! Wonderful to see skills developed in CTE319 blossom into teaching practice after graduation. :) Thanks Meral for AN ACTIVITY for PRACTICING CAN/ CAN'T

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Using L1 in the classroom

In our opening meeting The Director mentioned the use of L1.  How much do you think teachers and students should use the mother tongue in the classroom?  There are two sides to this story.

Use of L2- Students here get little or no external access to English, so the classroom needs to be full of it / They need to see the target language as ‘communication’ rather than ‘rules’ /  Krashen’s comprehensible input theory /  Students can have a ‘feel good factor’ if they can understand and/or use the L2 / Translations of a word or phrase often don’t work because of the need to look at the context / When L1 is used, students come to rely on it, even if L2 and L1 are both used, and become too habituated to bother to try to understand or use the L2 / Using a lot of L1 gives the impression that the L2 is not important. 

Use of L1 - Being aware of differences and similarities between L1 and L2 can help students understand and remember the target language better / Student output may be in L2 after discussion in L1 / There are times when the teacher using L1 saves time - e.g. quick translation, classroom management, psychological guidance etc. / Using only the target language can mean students are alienated against the L2 culture and language or they may feel their own culture is belittled / Students mentally translate anyway / Where both teachers and students are from the same language background, it seems unnatural to communicate in  the target language / Students become frustrated when trying to create if they only use L2 /

See previous discussion on this blog:- http://issuu.com/steveneufeld/docs/l1_translation_survey/1?e=0 look at page 2
and also


What do you think? In which situations do you think L1 is OK or even useful for students? Post a comment.........

Monday, October 28, 2013

Self-, Peer- and Computer-assisted feedback on writing

The teaching profession is traditionally very conservative to take on board new approaches, or explore alternative methodologies. There are good reasons for being wary of new or trendy movements.  However, as we have shown in our brief history of educational technology, there are times when established practices do need to evolve and move on.  One such area in the teaching of English as a foreign language is the use of computer-assisted writing feedback and collaboration in the drafting, revision and rewriting process. Although hard to believe, well into the 21st century, it is not uncommon to find institutions that still insist on all writing being done on paper, in pencil, through all the drafting stages up to and including the final draft. This procedure seems to be grounded in the popular myth of 'no pain, no gain'  and that somehow a spell-checker will encourage students to be lazy and hinder their learning of English.

Not unsurprisingly, there appears to be no evidence in the literature that this popular misconception is the case. However, there are cautionary tales that suggest it is the responsibility of parents and the educational system to teach awareness and digital literacy skills to make students more critical of automated writing aids, such as grammar- and spell-checkers.  Beyond the maligned spell-checker, research suggests that there are great benefits in computer-assisted feedback, and in particular computer-mediated reflection on writing and the process of self- and peer-editing. Research done almost a decade ago in Canada by Li Jan highlights the fact that that language learners paid more attention to higher order thinking activities when using computers to evaluate their written texts. In addition, the level and nature of revisions were significantly more sophisticated when using the computer. What is perhaps most striking is the fact that the computer-assisted revision process resulted in much higher scores in argumentation than the hand-written ones. Li Jan's findings pointed to the fact that educators should seriously consider the impact of computers on writing assessment. In fact, it is obvious that students who are taught at institutions who do not embrace such computer-assisted writing practices are disadvantaged when compared to students in institutions that do.

A more recent study by Yan Yu-Fen demonstrated that the use of reflection in the self- and peer-feedback in the writing process was dramatically enhanced in an online environment. So, it seems that we can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to promoting self- and peer-feedback--combining the use of computers as the medium of communication with face-to-face interaction takes writing to greater heights than just relying on one or the other.



Indeed, the evidence suggests that combining face-to-face feedback with computer-mediated feedback has great advantages. Nowadays, the use of collaborative Web2.0 tools, such as the humble WIKI, is showing great potential. Research published in 2013 by Li, Chu & Woo clearly demonstrates that there is not a 'one-size fits all' approach to developing writing skills, but that traditional face-to-face interaction can be greatly enhanced with computer-mediated avenues to share and collaborate, resulting in a much more productive and enhanced development of language learning.


So, the question really is not whether we should integrate technology and Web2.0 tools into the writing process in foreign language learning, but rather which tools and in what balance should we do this, right from the very beginning of learning English. As Li Jan pointed out in her research almost a decade ago, the inescapable fact is that word processing has become an absolutely essential tool for everyone. Therefore, we as teachers must not only accept the computer as an established writing tool, but actively promote and teach our students the necessary computer-based writing skills and critical awareness of the limitation of certain automated feedback systems. Li, Chu & Woo have gone on to demonstrate that it is not just the humble word-processor, but it is the collaborative environment of wikis (like GOOGLE DOCs) which shows the greatest promise of developing writing skills.  


If we don't rethink the way we teach writing, and the integration of various types of technology into the learning process, then our students will lag behind students who have been taught to engage with and effectively use 21st century writing tools.  Even now as I write, I have begun to notice the emerging use of mobile devices as a language production aid.   What do you think?  Can we continue to consider writing as an activity conducted only with pen and paper?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are your students really bored?

Here are a couple of interesting articles about students yawning in class - and chewing gum.  What do you think? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reflection on jigsaw reading workshop

The results of the reflection task, were compiled by Melek and based on the responses by the participants to the following questions.



















Reflection task results:
No of reflection sheets collected: 16
Pre-reading stage:
1.      How interested were the students in the topic?
Very interested
12
Neutral
4
Not very interested
0

2.      How much did the pre-taught vocabulary help the success of the while reading activity?
A lot
14
Not a lot
2
It wasn’t necessary
0

3.      A technique called ‘numbered heads’ were used for the grouping. What benefits and challenges of this technique did you observe?
Benefits:
Simple and quick
8
Students can work with different students (random)
6
Different
2
Variety
2
Practical
2
Fun
1
Mobilizes students/ breaks up monotony
1
Makes them concentrate (they have to remember their numbers)
1

Challenges:
Students who don’t want to work together might end up in the same group.
5
They need to remember their numbers
4
Noisy
3
Some students might get confused
2
Needs management
1

While-reading stage:
4.      Please tick the skills and strategies that the students have used in order to complete the tasks given:

Summarizing
16
Cooperation   
16
Reading
16
Speaking
15
Writing           
15
Communication
15
Listening
13
Competition
13
Time management
12
Critical thinking
7
Problem solving
5
                                                           
Post-reading stage
5.      What kind of post-reading activities can be suggested for this lesson?
Assigning a project such as a poster, or a presentation on an animal that can camouflage.
5
Writing comprehension questions for other groups.
4
A speaking activity (e.g. which of the mentioned animals would you like to be and why?)
2
Drawing a diagram of the text based on the summaries.
2
A vocabulary activity (e.g. a vocabulary matching activity using visuals)
2
Answering some comprehension questions
1
Each group may present answers to the comprehension questions. Others may evaluate.
1
Group discussion on examples of camouflage (e.g. animals and humans)
1
Ask them to find out 5 more animals that are good at camouflage.
1



General Feedback
6.      What kind of challenges or drawbacks of a jigsaw activity are there?
Weaker students who do not want to participate might ruin the activity.

3
Instructions are difficult to follow. (you noted them on the board which helped)
2
Since the sts are exposed to the text for the first time, they may have difficulty understanding the text, taking notes, summarizing their notes, and remembering what they have heard from other sts in their groups.
2
Some sts may have difficulty in explaining/speaking. They may not understand or try.
2
It needs time to teach students the rules and steps of jigsaw reading.
2
In problematic classes, pairwork and groupwork activities can be quite a challenge and require good classroom management skills.
2
Students don’t listen or move quickly. Some may end up in the wrong group.
1
Students might not cooperate in the 1st groups (expert groups)
1
In a lively class it can be very tiring for the instructor to manage the class.
1
It can be difficult to ensure that the discussion in groups will be done in L2 instead of L1.
1
In mixed ability classes it can be problematic to get all sts involved as the weaker ones opt to keep a low profile while the better ones will lead the way.
1
In the last group, actually they don’t have to teach because when the test is given, one st can answer one part, and so on.
1
Regrouping frequently can break up concentration
1
There is no guarantee that everyone will take notes and summarize, so that will affect the 2 groups’ performance.
1
Some groups do not take the test seriously and just don’t participate
1
Timing → the groups should be arranged carefully considering weak and good ones.
1
Not all the students might have enough motivation.
1
Some sts don’t want to work in a group.
1
Some sts will be reluctant in the speaking activity.
1
Hyperactive students may cause chaos.
1

7.      Other Comments:
All aspects well worked out! E.g. cooperation focus, instructions on the white board, rewards, scrap paper, etc.,  etc.
1
It is much better than just ‘read and answer’ type of conventional teaching. Thanks.
1
Encouraging the students to participate by giving them the sense of responsibility. That’s a good idea.
1
Difficult to manage the class. However, very enjoyable. Not boring.
1
Constant monitoring will be necessary. Too much moving around may confuse students. (They may have to carry their belongings around and/or they may have to sit with people they do not like.)
1