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Resource Ideas

Digitising existing paper materials

Digital worksheets

Digitising existing worksheets

  • Student instructions

Listen to:

this recording about the history of the words Aussie and Oz (original programme title: Aussie Battlers: what’s their story?, from ABC Radio National's Lingua Franca programme) and answer the following questions. You can listen as many times as you want.

  1. Where did the word ‘Australis’ come from?
  2. What did Governor Macquarie decide?
  3. When did the word ‘Aussie’ start to be used?
  4. Why is it a typical Australian nickname?
  5. Where did the word ‘Oz’ come from?

You should also reflect on your listening experience.

  1. Have you listened to much Australian English before?
  2. What did you find easy or difficult about following the speakers? Was it what they said or how they said it? Give at least one example.

Upload your answers as a PDF document to the Dropbox folder.

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This sort of worksheet can easily be recreated on other platforms.

"Webquest" style tasks and activities

Discovering dictionaries

It is very easy to give students lists of / links to useful language resources, but it can be hard to convince them to use anything better than the first hit on Google or their favourite bilingual dictionary website. One of the best ways to change their minds is an awareness raising task getting them to work through a problem these resources can't solve!

Procedure:

Reflect on collocations that learners might need in a specific context and struggle with. Check the students' preferred reference sites to see if they are likely to get useful information.

Example in context

English majors are studying expedition narratives and are having trouble finding an alternative to "to go on an expedition".

In checking, it became clear that the favoured sources of Leo.org and Dict.CC weren't likely to help...

Student Tasks

1. What do you call an “Expedition” and how do you describe actually going on one? Is the information even given if you click on the word? Look up "expedition" and "Entdeckungsreise" in Leo and Dict.CC and look carefuly at the results.

Leo.org: "expedition"

Dict.cc: "Entdeckungsreise"

2. Although entering the German phrase gives you quite a few suggestions, they aren’t particularly idiomatic Check the translation "auf Entdeckungsreise gehen" in Leo.

Leo.org: "auf Entdeckungsreise gehen"

  • What is the problem with the suggested translations?

3. Are you familiar with better alternatives to these online dictionaries? How do you look words up when you aren’t sure? If you don't, check the list of resources!

4. In your essays you made mistakes when discussing the sponsors/organizers of an expedition. Common errors (talking about an expedition in Australia in 1860) included:

  • The VEE formed the expedition
  • The VEE implemented the expedition
  • The VEE realised the expedition

5. Go to https://www.macmillandictionary.com/ and look up "expedition". Read the example sentences carefully. Which collocation can you use to talk about the process of getting an expedition started and on the road? Check your answer here.

Further problems

1. This sentence is quite simple:

  • Burke and Wills went on an expedition. How can you make this more interesting?

Go to http://www.ozdic.com/ and look up "expedition". Read through the results carefully - they are sorted by sentence structure. In this case you want verb + expedition. Which alternative collocations work here? Check your answers.

 

Investigating corpora

Language aim: investigating language for describing experiments and drawing conclusions (to avoid overuse of expresions with "do")

Specific purpose: English for (undergraduate) linguistics students

Instructions for students:

Go to SKELL (Sketch Engine for Language Learning).

Enter the word "experiment" into the box.

Then look at the results and click on WORD SKETCH.

Look at the new results - make sure you are looking at the NOUN!

  • List the first three verbs with "experiment" as subject.
  • Now list the first two verbs with "experiment" as object.
  • Check your answers here.

Now go and look at the following article in PLOS One on the effect of regional accents:

Heblich S, Lameli A, Riener G (2015) The Effect of Perceived Regional Accents on Individual Economic Behavior: A Lab Experiment on Linguistic Performance, Cognitive Ratings and Economic Decisions. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0113475. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0113475

  • Quickly skim the abstract. Can you see any of the collocations you have just identified? Are there any other useful verbs that collocate with either the noun "experiment" or the verbs you identfied? Are the verbs used as nominalised forms instead?
  • Check your answers here.

 Now go back to the article and look at the methods and the conclusion sections.

  • Write at least FIVE sentences summarizing what the researches DID in their study and what they DISCOVERED. Use the target collocations where possible.
  • E-mail your sentences to XYZ / Upload your sentences to the LMS / Dropbox folder / Google Drive.

Notes: This task uses SKELL due its basic interface and colourful visuals - any appropriate open-access corpus would work and students should be encouraged to search more fully-featured resources in the future.

Revising citations

1) Follow the link to look at an article from the journal Language Learning & Technology

http://www.lltjournal.org/item/3024

Find out the details of the article – who wrote it, when it was published, what the volume number and page numbers are and so. Then write a citation for it as it would appear in an APA reference list. Don’t forget the title!

Then check your answers.

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2) Look at this sentence from the article’s conclusion. It is from page 215.

"Learning tasks should be planned so that technological resources can be used creatively by the students to resolve communication difficulties that resemble potential situations in the real world."

How would you cite this quotation according to the department’s style guide for linguistics (which is based on APA) in the following situations?

  • Without a reporting verb
  • Using the expression „According to [author]“
  • Using the reporting verb „to conclude“

Check your answers.

Practice exercises

Virtuelles Prüfungssystem (Vips)

For anyone who uses Stud.IP, you can download a file to upload (you have to activate the Vips plugin first) and try out here.

A standard exercise looks like this.

Exercises and Quizzes with Survey Monkey

Note: It is necessary to keep the same principles of good test and activity design in mind when designing digital exercises - it is easy to forget this while manipulating software!

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Working with an LMS with quiz and testing functions is generally easier than having to use external resources for a number of reasons:

  • Keep learner attention by requiring them to access fewer platforms
  • Security and reliability for formal digital assessment
  • Fewer copyright and intellectual property issues if using original material (closed system - although you can restrict access to external sites to a certain extent)

That said, this is not always an option, and it is worth looking at ways to create exercises elsewhere.

There are a lot of quiz sites and plug-ins out there - many of them (such as those operating with WordPress) are not free or are somewhat unreliable. They may also require a website to host them.

A useful option is SurveyMonkey. The site is better known for surveys and questionnaires, but the free version has quite a robust quiz function as well. It also has certain functions that not every LMS supports.

Example:

With multiple choice questions in SurveyMonkey, you can choose whether or not to randomise the questions. This makes more question types possible. Other LMS quizzes randomise automatically for security reasons, but this can lead to nonsensical results!

A simple multiple choice adverbial quiz on SurveyMonkey can be viewed here. (It is set up as a practice exercise and results are visible immediately; you can also make the results visible later for more of a "test" effect.

Other task types:

A multiple choice quiz on adverbial meaning where the answers can be chosen from a drop-down menu can be viewed here.

 

 

Exercises and Quizzes with Quizlet

Note: It is necessary to keep the same principles of good test and activity design in mind when designing digital exercises - it is easy to forget this while manipulating software!

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Quizlet is best known as a virtual flashcard app (it also runs via a browser); however, while it is certainly a good place to create vocabulary flashcards (of the traditional "match the word with its definition/picture/translation" variety), it works for any sort of matching task.

Teachers can create exercises in a virtual classroom for groups of learners and send them the link; you can also adopt sets that have been made available by other users. These are not always particularly good - you do need to check!

The free version gives users quite a lot of functionality and is easy to use.

KEY QUESTION: what sort of language can be used for matching tasks to create useful tasks going beyond pure vocabulary revision?

Ideas:

Once you have created a vocabulary set, there are a number of ways it can be used.

You can browse a few tasks in the classroom.

When working with a classroom, you can also keep track of learner performance.

HOWEVER...

One of the main issues with Quizlet is that you cannot add instructions to a vocabulary set if you are doing something slightly unusual, so if you want to create something more complex, you need somewhere students can access the instructions!

  • Student instructions, academic synonyms 1

Match the synonyms for common academic vocabulary with the appropriate sentence - the new words should replace the term in CAPITAL LETTERS. Each word fits the sentence as is, so make sure you read each example carefully!

  • Student instructions, academic synonyms 2

The sentences all contain a phrasal verb (in CAPITAL LETTERS). For each example, choose the more formal single word verb which you could use instead without changing the meaning.

The other challenge is one of task design - you have to make sure the answer options are unambiguous, and you CANNOT reuse an option, as that will confuse the flash card settings.

Basic media tasks

Podcasts / audio recording

There is obviously nothing particularly innovative in students recording themselves. However, given the popularity of podcasts today, the idea can be combined with an analysis of the genre to increase language input, and learner satisfication tends to increase when they see a task is more authentic.

This is a good introductory guide to using podcasts in the classroom.

In terms of producing (semi-)authentic podcasts, students need to be familiar with the genre, so receptive skills work involving listening and analysis of existing podcasts is always a good place to start. The following restaurant review task was completed as part of an an advanced spoken English course at C1+ level by undergraduate English students in their 3rd-5th semesters of study.

Preliminary work:

Discussion (in-class or private study) - what do you think a restaurant review should contain? What do you think published restaurant reviews and food discussions actually include?

Students were directed to various resources including the Doughboys podcasts and restaurant reviews from the Guardian as well as episodes of The Menu. They had already been asked to find a food media source and follow it for the course of the semester, reporting back in the last class meetings. The exact tasks at this stage can vary, as long as they highlight some of the key genre characteristics:

  • Reviews not really about basic facts such as opening hours or menu pricing
  • Highly opinionated genre
  • Elements of the reviewer's personality clearly evident
  • Elaborate vocabulary - wide range of adjectives, extended metaphors and similes
    • In this case students were asked to highlight, paraphrase and if necessary look up the lexis in several Jay Rayner reviews
  • Frequent pop-culture references
  • NOT the same as reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor.
  • Can refer to atmosphere and setting as well as food.
  • Need to describe visuals as well as taste of food
    • In this case quite advanced students observed major lexical gaps since food was a topic they tended to discuss more in L1 than in L2 - a preliminary task of asking them to describe their favourite food in detail sent them straight to their dictionaries.

Focussing on the outcomes allows tasks to be used that may not mirror language USE in a specific context, but that nonetheless foster the same SKILLS that learners will need.

 

Guidelines as given to students:

1) The podcast may be recorded on your own or with a partner. If working on your own, the ideal length is three to five minutes (maximum eight minutes!); in a pair, the recording should be around six to eight minutes (maximum ten minutes!).

2) The finished recording should be uploaded to the locked Stud.IP folder Restaurant review podcasts - upload here”. The official deadline is by 16:00 on XX (end of week Y).

  • Given the wide range of file types I ended up receiving, having everything in one folder was ideal - they could be bulk-downloaded and played back in VLC (which did play everything). Google Drive or Dropbox shared folders would work if not using a LMS. Individual e-mail is rather tedious for this sort of task in terms of keeping track of submissions - it would work with smaller groups (as would a WhatsApp group, in fact, since most students recorded the podcast on their phones).

3) Before you upload the recording, please listen to it one last time and complete the checklist below and on the following page. You will then need to hand it in at the class meeting on ZZ (or earlier, of course). If you complete the task with a partner, please fill in the checklist individually, referring to your own contributions only.

Comments:

The evaluation checklist was used in place of peer-review, since both course time and workload constraints did not allow this to happen in class or as a general process. In addition, some students had privacy concerned or were embarrassed at errors made while trying new language. (They were encouraged to experiment within the limits of the genre, as key learning aims for this specific group of students included genre awareness and vocabulary expansion on both everyday and less common topics - essential tools for literature students!)

Students also received teacher feedback; however, this was a time-consuming process and may not be feasible with larger groups or in the longer term. It was interesting to compare the self-assessment checklists with teacher perceptions of the quality of the language produced - student ability to assess their progress accurately varied wildly.

Restaurant reviews were a a genre that worked well with this set of students given the course aims; other podcast genres (explaining how things work; news updates; topical discussions; reporting on new discoveries) would work well for other learning aims.

 

Further media tasks

Voiceover / Dubbing - L1-L2

General language aim: Mediation (Vermittlung)

Specific purpose: mediation/gist translation are skills that school students in Lower Saxony are expected to acquire - future teachers (ie. most Oldenburg students) need to have them as well.

Idea: Using a short [video] extract, students produce an English version of the original German voiceover that gets the main ideas across and matches the original images - a direct translation is not required. The new version should be reasonably idiomatic.

Materials: Short video extract (either as file or as YouTube or similar link); transcript of original text. To maximise language rather than tech aims, monologues with little background noise or a significant soundtrack work best.

Procedure: Watch video while following L1 text. Draft mediated English version - check length (of text as SPOKEN) is similiar and watch video to assess rough audio-picture matching. Record new version (no effects required - basic software on a phone is fine) and upload to shared folder or LMS.

Evaluation/assessment:

Option 1 - Students listen to each other's versions and peer assess the results (for content and/or language). Assessment worksheet could be provided.

Option 2 - Teacher listens to student versions and provides individual or group feedback (in-class or uploaded to folder/LMS or e-mailed to students).

A general discussion (in-class or online) of what makes a "good" or "bad" new voiceover could either take place before the activity (as preparation) or after peer or teacher review.

Materials:

  • Sendung mit der Maus - manufacturing lego. Video can be viewed here (the task covers the first 35 seconds before the scene changes) or temporarily downloaded here. Download the transcript here.
  • You can view a further video to do this task with here. (It's about broom production.) The transcript of the first minute can be downloaded here.

Voiceover / Dubbing - L1 (or silent) to L1

This version of the task works in situations where L1-L2 mediation is not possible (eg. multilingual groups) or not an intended learning aim.

General language aim: describing processes; genre-appropriate language

Specific purpose: since providing a running narration of events is not really a real-life task (apart from sports commentary or audio description - see below for information on the latter), this works best with learners who will need to be able to describe industrial / manufacturing processes or similiar.

Idea: Using a short [video] extract, students produce a voiceover for a video that has minimal or no (English) text that would benefit from / make sense with a more detailed description of the process OR produce a new voiceover for a clip that has usual visuals but has narration that is not appropriate for the learner's specific needs (ie. the clip is narrated for children or for laypeople whereas the learner needs to learn professional-level language; alternatively the clip is aimed at professionals and needs narration for non-expert clients.) The new version should get the main ideas across and match the original images as well as (ideally) being reasonably idiomatic.

Materials: Short video extract (either as file or as YouTube or similar link); transcript of original text if there is any. A rough storyboard can be useful to help adjust the timing (see this example for a non-ESP video task); however, this can be time-consuming to produce and is not always worth creating if students will be completing the task outside the classroom.

Note: To maximise language rather than tech aims, monologues with little background noise or a significant soundtrack work best.

Procedure: Watch video - either while following transcript (if available) or while taking notes on the images or following along to a storybroad. Draft mediated English version - check length (of text as SPOKEN) is similiar and watch video to assess rough audio-picture matching. Record new version (no effects required - basic software on a phone is fine) and upload to shared folder or LMS. Play recording while viewing muted original video. (You can add a new soundtrack to a video file reasonably easily if you want to spend additional time on technical rather than linguistic issues, but it takes a certain amount of time - see here for a very basic guide to this.)

Evaluation/assessment:

Option 1 - Students listen to each other's versions and peer assess the results (for content and/or language). Assessment worksheet could be provided.

Option 2 - Teacher listens to student versions and provides individual or group feedback (in-class or uploaded to folder/LMS or e-mailed to students).

A general discussion (in-class or online) of what makes a "good" or "bad" (new) voiceover could either take place before the activity (as preparation) or after peer or teacher review.

Materials:

  • How LEGO Bricks Are Made - video can be viewed here. There are very simple English captions that could be noted down in advance (or downloaded if that is something are willing/able to attempt). A more detailed description of the process could easily be added to the visuals.
  • LEGO Bricks In the Making - video can be viewed here. This official video could be revoiced at a higher level of techical/linguistic complexity. The same process could be applied to this video.

Closed captioning / audio description (intralingual translation tasks)

These task types have the advantage of authenticity, in that they are real-life genres which increasingly important in terms of making media more accessible. However, both audio description and closed-captioning have their own specific guidelines and principles that teachers and learners really need to be aware of before embarking on this type of project, and it may not be worth either teacher or student time to become familiar with these.

A good general overview for audio description is the ADLAB project.

Sean Zdenek's book Reading Sounds|Closed-Captioned Media and Popular Culture and its accompaning website are excellent places to start when investigating closed captions.

The following task ideas can therefore only ever be considered as a place to start.

General language aims for interlingual language tasks:

  • Closed captioning - lexis for describing sounds; requires very specific vocabulary (useful for audio/musical studies/professionals) but generally straightforward grammar (subject + present simple verb + adverb)
  • Audio description - narrating events precisely but concisely. Straightforward grammar but genre does not allow for wavering or hesitation. Present participles used frequently.

Specific purpose: language for meeting accessibility requirements (more likely to be of use to learners in employment than pre-experience university students)

Idea: Produce closed captions or an audio description for a short video

Materials:

  • Audio description - short video extract (either as file or as YouTube or similar link); transcript of original audio with timings to fit new speech around. Unless you want to make this a major project or accessibility is a major learning aim, it's best to choose clips with minimal dialogue!
  • Closed captioning - short video extract preferably as downloaded file; for YouTube links, check if the original uploader has enabled "community contributions" as you can upload the final product (you can also upload captions for your own videos); transcript of original text as .txt file with timings if you want to create real subtitles.

Procedure: Watch video carefully and take notes. This procedure is slow and better suited to out-of-class time unless you have plenty of time and good headphones! Closed captions can be typed up when complete; audio description can be drafted and recorded - basic software on a phone is fine). Captions can be saved as .txt files and uploaded to a shared folder or LMS, as can the new recording.

Screening:

  • There is a learning curve in creating functional subtitles in a low-tech way - it may not contribute substantially to the main learning outcomes to get things to work prefectly, but it does make for a much more satisfying task. A very basic guide to subtitle creation can be downloaded here.
  • Audio description can be read (or a file can be listened to separately) while a video is playing. It is relatively straightforward to replace the additional audio in playback; adding to the original is more complex and is not really a language learning task. A basic guide can be downloaded here.
    • It can be helpful to have a timed storyboard, but these can be time-consuming to produce and to the best of my knowledge there is no free or budget software that will produce one for you from an existing video. Suggestions would be welcome!

Evaluation/assessment:

As with the tasks above; subtitles can also be assessed on paper, as can an audio description transcript.

Materials:

  • A good short example of audio description can be found here. The transcript is here
  • If you want to try out closed captioning, the film Un Sacré Mariage! has a linguistically interesting range of sounds to work with. You can download a bare-bones template for improvement here.
  • Another practice example with interesting sounds is the Wallace and Gromit short The Snoozatron - Cracking Contraptions. The caption template can be downloaded here.

Comment:

These tasks require a reasonable level of computer ability (and genre-awareness) to produce a high-level product and the technical element can easily override the language benefits if not considered carefully!

 

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