Fall 2001

TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED LANGUAGE LEARNING

Spring 2001 issue

Welcome to the Fall 2001 issue of Technology Enhanced Language Learning. In this issue you'll find descriptions of past successes, new ideas, new additions to the LRC, both off and online, and maybe some inspiration. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Jon Reinhardt
jsreinha@colby.edu or Colby extension 3898.


POWERPOINT

Adrianna Paliyenko will present her successes using PowerPoint in the classroom at a French studies conference this month. In French 358 Adrianna used PowerPoint extensively for lecture presentations, adding an interesting, visual element to a class that might otherwise have been traditional. Images were presented at the beginning of each class without text or words, providing students with food for thought and fodder for discussion.

A major class assignment was to create PowerPoint presentations on a given topic and present them to the class. Since PowerPoint is standard on every Colby lab computer, and students are given the MS Office suite for their personal computers, it was easy for students to prepare their presentations. View the presentations on the class website:

French 358: Cultural Heritage of 17th century France
http://www.colby.edu/~ampaliye/FR358/index.html

Did you know that you can easily convert any PowerPoint presentation to a web page? Did you know you can also easily print shots of every frame with notes for use while giving the presentation? Sign up for a PowerPoint workshop to learn more:
http://www.colby.edu/info.tech/howtos/index.html


iMOVIE

Last semester, Cliff Roberson's Spanish 127 class used the LRC's digital video cameras and iMovie stations to create videos on historical topics. Working in teams, the students wrote scripts in Spanish, filmed, and even acted the parts of historical figures. By focusing on history, students were forced to use and learn past tenses.


NEW MACHINES IN SEMINAR ROOMS

The new indigo blue iMacs in Lovejoy 404, 450, and 302 are configured exactly as the LRC computers. This means that the machines have copies of the Puntos, Mais Oui, and Prego CD-ROMs on them, as well as language kits and MS Word dictionaries, iMovie, and software like Vocab, an easy flash card and quiz program. Of course, since many courses' audio materials are now online, the seminar room computers can also access these files (as can any computer with a Web browser).

While the new iMacs can play audio CDs like the old ones, they can also burn data CDs that can be read by any Mac or PC. Since a CD can hold up to 750 MB (that's 7 times a zip disc or 700 times a floppy disc), they're great for large image, audio, or video files.


THE LRC HELP WEBPAGE

The LRC tech help page at:

http://www.colby.edu/lrc/help

is growing with useful information for faculty and students regarding language kits and similar issues. The accents & diacritics page has been updated with a useful chart of keystroke sequences and download-and-printable charts for French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The page on how to install non-Roman character functionality has been updated, and new Cyrillic and Japanese input pages have also been added.

Students can use the system CDs that came with their personal computers to install the U.S. Int'l keyboard (for Windows) if necessary, which gives them all the diacritics they need for Colby-taught Roman alphabetic languages. These CDs are also needed for non-Roman character functionality for both Windows and Macs. Students can also check out MS Office CDs from the library to install language dictionaries. Instructions are on the LRC help page.


Exchange your slide projector for a DVD player! Did you know you can take a set of slides, scan them, and burn them onto a DVD using equipment available in the LRC?


WHAT'S ONLINE ON TELL

TEACHING GERMAN MODAL PARTICLES: A CORPUS-BASED APPROACH

by Martina Möllering at Macquarie University, Sydney

In the latest issue of Language Learning and Technology, a German instructor describes how she uses corpora to help teach the use of German modal particles (in English, these would equate to adverbs such as 'even, 'like', or 'kind of' that pepper speech). Corpora refers to huge databases of authentic language that are usually used by linguists to study grammar and lexicons. The language in a corpus is considered superior to the 'sample language' found in textbooks since the language in corpora is true and authentic, reflecting not textbook grammar rules but the real grammar used on the streets.

Corpora can be used to provide a small sampling of authentic language which students can analyze to learn meaning nuances and syntax rules. In Teaching German Modals, Möllering even provides a sample worksheet to illustrate how she uses corpora in her class. Read the article at:

http://llt.msu.edu/vol5num3/mollering

WEB SEARCH ACTIVITIES

A simple and effective Internet activity involves using the World Wide Web in effect as a huge encyclopedia or library. These are basically activities where students search the Web for the answers to questions. These activities can be as structured or open-ended as desiredča list of questions based on a specific or general course topic, and either a specific website on which to find the answer or an open-ended search for the answer. The activity could even be used for speaking practice as students report their answers to each other in jigsaw style. An example of simple search activities in English (called 'treasure hunts') can be found at:

http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/th/

A similar, more intensive activity involves an entire project that integrates Web searches. These have been called 'Webquests':

http://edweb.sdsu.edu/webquest/webquest.html

ONLINE TRANSLATION ACTIVITIES

The growing number of online translation services can be used for an effective learning activity to illustrate the complexity of translation. Google's language tools, Systran.com, and Freetranslation.com all offer free online web page translators, with varying degrees of accuracy. How accurate? Let's just say language teaching is not threatened; the accuracy is high but still faulty with languages similar to English, and translators for non-Roman alphabetic languages are not even available yet.

In class, comparing the original text and the computer-translated text can provide useful examples of where direct translation does not work, especially with idioms and nuances of meaning. Try entering a Spanish, French, or German webpage address into Google's translator at

http://www.google.com/language_tools

or translate a selection of non-English text into Systran.com's or Freetranslation.com's translators. The results will be inaccurate, often amusing, and definitely educational. Better yet, take an English selection, translate it into the target language, and then translate it back again into English. The results will reflect the reality that language is so complex that even the lightning fast, powerful computers of today haven't mastered translation.


NEW IN THE LRC

There have been a few notable additions to the LRC since the spring:


What to do in the LRC:


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October 2001