[ This project is still in the evaluation phase - Beta Version. Your comments can help me determine its future. ]
As a possible new project on my site, you can share your ideas on a variety of topics by leaving a video, voice, or text response using a service called Voice Thread. These new activities use different pictures, videos, texts, and audio records are linked together for the common purpose of learning. Anyone can view the posts, and you can simply register and sign in to leave your comments. For safety reasons, all post are moderated (checked) before they are posted. Read more below to learn how to use this online activities to improve your language skills below.
The new activities that you see below are two examples I have developed, and based on user feedback, I hope to create more.
I am currently testing a newer way of helping people around the world build their English skills and share their ideas on a variety of topics. Unlike blogs, this service allows users to leave video, voice, and text comments around a graphic, video, or other document.
On my site, each activity is linked to one of my listening activities, so students can practice recycling their language skills in many ways. Unlike a blog that is generally limited to text, these Conversation Builders give learners unique opportunities to share their ideas using the power of audio, video, and text capabilities. In most cases, students will see a slide with a specific language focus and then is asked to talk about that topic.
2. How to Use:
When a student opens one of these activities, an audio recording begins to play (or you can click on the play button) and gives the learner instructions on what to do. There also are language notes to help and guide you through the task. A user does not have to register or log in to view comments. However, if you want to share your ideas, you need to register which is completely free. There are several free ways in which a learner can share comments:
Voice recording with a microphone
Users in the United States can also call and leave of voice message; however, there is a fee for this feature, so I suggest using the very easy methods mentioned above. The telephone service is not available for calls outside the US.
Comments are posted after they have been reviewed for appropriateness and content, so you don't have to worry about running into objectionable material.
3. Ideas for Students:
So, how can you use the comments you read and see to improve your language skills? Here are some ideas:
Listen carefully to the recording and read and study the picture or study notes.
Read, listen, and watch some of the comments left by others. Pay careful attention to the vocabulary and sentence structure of these comments. Not everything will be spoken/written correctly, but you can benefit not just by learning more English from others, but I hope that you can develop new ideas and expand your understanding of other cultures.
Take notes and/or copy some of the comments from others and study the way others used the language.
Be open and willing to accept new ideas. All too often, we tend to have certain stereotypes about other people---things that we have learned in the media that often are not true.
4. Ideas for Teachers:
Preview the materials on my site that are relevant and applicable to your students' needs.
Find an activity on my site that supports the language skills you are teaching in class (e.g., shopping, going to movies, environmental protection, etc.).
Have students do any prework to prepare to succeed on the activity. In other words, help them with any vocabulary they might encounter.
Assign students to post a message, either with a Web Cam, audio recording using a microphone, or a text message based on a specific language structure you are working on as part of your class objectives. In doing so, students can see that the task has great relevance to what you are trying to accomplish in the classroom. Keep in mind that in order to provide a safe environment on this site, I moderate all comments that are posted after they are reviewed, and therefore, you do not have to worry about objectionable content.
Ask students to listen to one more comments by other visitors and assign a specific task to that assignment. In other words, you can have students listen to three comments and have students (1) compare and contrast the content of these messages using adverb clauses ("Although one student thought that going to the movies was an inexpensive way to spend time with family, another person said that watching a movie at home would be a better use of time and money.") (2) practicing summarizing by changing direct speech to indirect reported speech, and (3) identifying illogical reasoning or fallacies in other messages.
I am experimenting with this new feature at the present time to see how students could benefit from this service, so please share your ideas with me.