Monday, 27 February 2012

Learning Chocolate
What is Learning Chocolate? What does it do?

Learning Chocolate is a website designed for vocabulary learning. It functions as a picture dictionary, allowing learners to learn English words with an interface of five languages. The illustrative pictures of words are attractive and, what is more, learners can listen to the pronunciation of each word by simply clicking the cone icon below it.

Why is Learning Chocolate relevant to language learning?

Learning Chocolate is relevant to language learning as it provides a much more fun way for students to memorise vocabulary. Words are grouped into different categories, and therefore, students can learn and memorise words systematically instead of randomly.  

Another compelling reason why Learning Chocolate is good for language learning is that it provides a lot of interactive quizzes, which helps students learn autonomously.

How can we use Learning Chocolate to foster language learning in class or outside class?

Learning Chocolate is particularly suitable for teachers to use to encourage autonomous learning as they can deploy this website as a supplementary teaching material outside class. If students learn some new words about animals in class, teachers can encourage them to know and memorise some more words about animals outside class. Students can listen to the sound file and do the quizzes as many times as they want without fearing being heard or laughed at by others, which fosters their confidence in English learning.

What are the limitations with the use of Learning Chocolate?

 1. Learning Chocolate focuses on American English instead of British English in terms of pronunciation, spelling and some language usage. For example, 'bonnet' is the British way to refer to the metal part over the front of a vehicle while 'hood' is the American way. 

2. Learning Chocolate provides an interface of five languages (English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese and Spanish), however, it does not provide the corresponding meaning of each word in those five languages mentioned above.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

What is Wordle? What does it do?

Wordle is a website made by an IBM software engineer, Jonathan Feinberg. Users either type or copy-and-paste text into the system, which then creates a corresponding 'word cloud' from it. Words that appear more frequently are made larger than others and users can play with the clouds using a variety of colour schemes, layouts and fonts. Wordle is a free tool and the pictures users create with Wordle are theirs to keep. Users can print them out or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with the public.

Why is Wordle relevant to language learning?

Wordle is relevant to language learning because it is visually attractive and thus can boost students' motivation. It can, moreover, show word frequency and highlight the key words of the texts given.

How can we use Wordle to foster language learning in class or outside class?

In class

Wordle is a great tool for teachers to use to engage students in pre-reading activities.

1. Teachers can show students a Wordle created from a text and ask students to guess what the text is about. For example, if I want to use Wordle to teach an English song, I will first show the Wordle I have made from the lyrics of a song and ask students to discuss what they think the lyrics are about.

2. Teachers can then ask students to find words they already know in the Wordle given and have them read those words out loud for practice.

3. Following that, students could be asked to find 10 words they don't know in the Wordle (or those they are least familiar with) and make a list of them.  

4. Before the class is dismissed, students could be set homework, making 10 sentences based on the list of 10 words.

Outside class

Teachers can ask students to go home, find texts that interest them, make their own Wordles, and then write 10 sentences, each containing a word they previously didn't know. By doing so, teachers encourage students' autonomous learning.

What are the limitations with the use of Wordle?

1. A Wordle file cannot be saved in a JPEG or PDF format directly from the Wordle website. You have to use other tools or apps to do that.

2. Despite the fact that Wordle makes gorgeous word clouds and can really draw students' attention in the beginning, they might not find Wordle interesting any more if teachers keep using it in class.

3. If the text is too long, the Worldle created might seem a bit disordered and cluttered.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dvolver moviemaker

What is Dvolver moviemaker? What does it do?

Dvolver moviemaker is a very interesting website that allows users to create their own mini movies in just six simple steps:

1. Select a background and a sky that you want to use in your mini movie.

2. Select a plot.

3. Select two characters for your movie.

4. Type in the characters' lines.

 5. Select the background music that suits your movie.

6. Key in the movie title and the director's name.

After the six steps, your movie is now done. You can preview your movie and send it to your friend.

As soon as you press the SEND key on the screen, you will get a code so that you can embed the movie in your webpage if you like.

Why is Dvolver moviemaker relevant to language learning?

Dvolver moviemaker is relevant to language learning for the website itself provides students with a variety of adjectives and nouns to learn. As the students go through the Background, Sky, Plot, Characters sections, they can largely increase their vocabulary because they need to know the meanings of the words to make better choices for their movies. Furthermore, Dvolver moviemaker enables learners to create their own characters' lines, which strengthens learners' ability to make sentences and construct conversations in a variety of language settings. Most important of all, Dvolver moviemaker provides is fun and easy to use, providing an interesting way to learn English with creativity.

How can we use Dvolver moviemaker to foster language learning in class or outside class?

In class

Firstly, teachers need to demonstrate to students how to use Dvolver moviemaker to make mini movies step-by-step. Secondly, get pairs of students to discuss and make their own mini movies. Finally, students are asked to send their mini movies to teachers and they should also hand in the worksheets which contain 10 new words and example sentences they have learned from this movie-making activity. Teachers may as well ask students to practice the conversations in their movies face-to-face in class if time permitted.

Outside class

Teachers can ask each individual student to make a mini movie and complete the worksheet for homework.

What are the limitations with the use of Dvolver moviemaker?

 1. Learners can only choose two characters and type in six characters' lines in each scene, which might lead to a monotonous atmosphere and a quick loss of interest for higher level learners.

 2. Dvolver moviemaker can stimulate learners' creativity, foster their sentence-making ability and increase their vocabulary. However, it cannot help them improve their listening ability.

3. Some spelling mistakes can be found on the Dvolver moviemaker website.

4. Some characters which Dvolver moviemaker provides might not be suitable for young learners, for example, the character Hottie.  

Monday, 6 February 2012

Lyrics Training 

What is Lyrics Training?

Lyrics Training is an amazing website which provides an easy and fun method to learn and improve English language skills through the music videos and lyrics of a variety of songs. This website is perfectly suitable for learners to work autonomously. 

What does it do?                                                                                                                    

 1. Learners can search in the search bar and choose the songs they want to learn.

2. If the song is completely new to the learner, he/she can choose the karaoke mode first instead of entering the game mode directly.

3. After playing the whole lyrics for a few times, the learner then can select beginner, intermediate or expert mode from the game mode section, according to his/her familiarity with the song.

4. The learner then keys in the missing words as he/she listens to the song.

5. The learner can easily go back to the previous lines by pressing the Line Up key, replay the line by pressing the Backspace key, or skip the word and move on to the next line by pressing the TAB key. The instructions on how to play the game are very easy to follow, and the learner can know the number of words he/she gets right or skips as the result is shown simultaneously in the bar below the lyrics section. 

Why is Lyrics Training relevant to language learning?

Lyrics Training is good for language learning because it provides an interesting option for learners who love listening to or singing along to, music. When learning a new song, a learner is totally engaged, as he/she needs to listen to, read, and type the lyrics (and may well want to sing along to them too). 

How can we use  Lyrics Training to foster language learning in class or outside class?

In class, we can introduce the Lyrics Training website to students and teach them how to find the songs they want to learn on the website. Then we can ask students to go home and practice songs they like. In the end, we can ask students to do a presentation in class. With the help of Lyrics Training, the learners can learn English both in class and outside class.

What are the limitations with the use of Lyrics Training?  

1. There are some wrongly-spelled words in the lyrics provided.
2. Low typing speed might discourage learners from accomplishing the tasks.
3. Not all the words or phrases used can be found in a dictionary.
4. Not every language learner likes to listen to music or sing.
5. Computers are not always accessible at school.
6. It takes a long time and a lot of practice for learners to master a new song.