Feb 12, 2012

Breaking news English

Many English teachers use newspaper articles as teaching materials to help learners with their vocabulary, reading and writing abilities. However, where to obtain appropiate English news for language learning and how to use these materials to facilatate students' learning is constantly a headache for all language teachers.
Today I want to introduce to all of you a very useful website called "Breaking news English", here is the link: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/
What is it?
This website keeps updating latest news reports on social issues and events. It is accessible to all readers and full of ready-to-use exercises for English language learning. Meanwhile, it provides a PDF version of all the exercises and newspaper articles on this website. Teachers can easily download all those files and print them out as teaching materials for students.

What are the advanteges of this website?
  1. it provides lots of language exercises like gap filling, multiple choice, and questions design which can help students improve their reading ability. Meanwhile, exercises like no letters, sentence jumble, and missing words can help students strengthen their memory and enlarge their vocabulary.
  2. it provides a PDF version of all those handouts
  3. MP3 file is attached to every listening material and the pronounciation is very clear which can also help students with their spoken language
  4. the articles on this website are from latest news report which means students can not only learn English but also broaden their hosizon of the world
Here are some examples of the exercises provided on this website:
  1.  Crosswords
2. Missing words

3. No letters

4. Matching

What is the relevance to language teaching?
  • this website is a fantastic tool for self-study learners since they can use it to take quizes and check the answers afterwards.
  • language teachers can use this website to help with the lesson plans, for example, the teacher may find the warm-up questions very useful and interesting and apply them into the lesson plan
  • the teacher can choose some excersises of this website to make homework for the students.
  • this website can also encourage students' group work or pair work, for example, the exercise of filling in the missing words may need combined efforts of the students
What are the limitations?
  • the questions and answers are in the same page. Students may want to refer to the answers and don't think deeply
  • there are too much content and exercises for one article, and some of them are not very good designed. So some of the materials need evaluation and adaption by the teacher according to different teaching context

    Feb 11, 2012

    Make your own film with Dvolver Moviemaker

    What is Dvolver Moviemaker?
    Dvolver Moviemaker is a creative website where
    you can produce your own movie and share it with
    other people.

    How to use Dvolver Moviemaker?

    First click on "make a movie"

    Then select a backgroud, asky, a plot and the characters.

    Then type in lines between the characters.

    Then select the backgroud music and type in the title and author.

    Finally, you can preview this movie and send it to anyone through email.

    The following is a movie that I have made in just 1 minute.

    How might English teachers use this website?
    • the teacher can ask the students to use this website to make an interesting story and share it with other students
    • the teacher can ask the students to use new words or expressions and make a conversation
    • students can use this website to make a self-introduction
    • students can provide feedback to the teacher in this way
    • students can practice the ability of expressing their own opinions
    What are the limitations of this website?
    • the chatacters cannot talk aloud, students can only read their lines
    • the scenes are very limited, students may find it nor enough to make up a soty
    • this website may bot be suitable for young learners since they may get distracted by the colourful views and the comics
    • students without internet or computers can not get access to it

    Feb 8, 2012

    Jing--a screen capture software

    What is Jing?
    Jing is like a camera or video recorder which can
    capture everything you are doing on your computer.
    So this is a great software sharing screen-shots
    and screen-casts.

    How to use Jing?
    The video below clearly demenstrates how to use Jing step by step.

    I hope all of you have got some ideas of Jing, so now
    let's discuss how can Jing help language learning.

    How is Jing connected with language learning?
    • teacher can record feedback on students' writing or other homeworks. Jing creats a face-to-face communication between the teacher and students 
    • teacher can make several videos and each of them is connected with one language point or specific topic. For example, one file is about how to do an English presentation; another is about how to use participle clause. In doing so, the teacher can save a lot time and concentrate on individual student.
    • student can produce their own introduction with Jing and share it with the whole class

    • students can send their homework of oral presentation to the teacher and practice spoken language
    • students are more motivated since they can communicate with the teacher after class and receive feedback individually
    • even if the students don't understand some parts of the teacher's feedback, they can play the video back again and agian in order to fully understand

     What are the limitations of Jing?
    • it has a five minute limite
    • it is only accesible with computers and internet
    • it is a time-consuming job if the teacher has to give feedback to every student with Jing
    • users cannot download the videos

    Feb 7, 2012

    MailVu---mail you can view

    Are you still sending word-email to your students? Don't be so boring anymore!
    Try MailVu where you can creat your own video and email to anyone.
    What is MailVu?
    MailVu is the easiest way to send a private video to anyone instantly. You can also share your video on Youtube or Skype. It doesn't need your knowledge of techonologh or your talent of making a movie. And it is camoatible with iphone, blackberry, android, ie, firefox, safari, opera, etc.And it is free!

    Just a few clicks and you don't even need an account:)

    1. permit the website to use your camera and microphone
    2. click on "record" and enjoy yourself
    3. click on "stop" to end recording
    4. click on "send" to mail this video to anyone

    How can it aid language learning?
    • the teacher can provide feedback to students by mailing the video. So instead of typing a few lines of words, the teacher can give more concrete feedback on students' performance
    • the video is more like a face to face communication which is definately more effective and efficient
    • the students can record their own spoken English homework and send it back to the teacher. Since some students are shy to practice oral English in class, using Mailvu is a good way to help them do some oral practice
    • this website can encourage teacher-learner talk and make the students feel motivated to use English

    What are the limitations?
    • students without access to computer or the internet cannot use this website 
    • users cannot download the viedos that have been recorded 
    • The teacher may have to spend more time on record the feedback to students
    • you can only send a video up to 10 mins

    Feb 6, 2012

    Bubblr---an interesting tool to present photos

     What is Bubblr?
    Bubblr is a tool to creat comic trips using photos from flickr.com. You can use it to produce a presentation of loads of pictures. What's important is that it is completely free and so easy-doing,

    How it works?
    It just needs three simple steps.
    1. type in the key words to search the pictures you may need

    2. select the photo from the photo wall and drag it to the middle. For example, here I have already added three photos which are taken from Shanghai.
    3. add words to illustrate your photes by simply dragging and dropping the bubbles, then press publish!

    How can Bubblr help language learning?
    Students can easily use this website to express their opions or demonstrate those pictures in English. And with this interesting activity, students can produce their own PPT and give an English presentation about it.

    What are the limitations?
    • right-preserved photos are not accessible from Bubblr, so you may not find enough photos you need to support your presentation
    • the search tool is not well designed since the user cannot choose the way to search, for example, search by when the photo was taken or the type of the photo, etc.
    • only photos cann be added but not videos or recordings
    • There is no control of the content which can be published or not. In such circumstance, content of limited value can also be posted.
    • The bubbles can not be edited flexible, like changing the font or color of the words

    Feb 1, 2012

    QuestGarden---build your own WebQuest

    What is WebQuest?

    A WebQuest, according to WebQuest.org, is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. These can be created using various programs, including a simple word processing document that includes links to websites.

    What is QuestGarden?

    QuestGarden is the place to go for stimulating teachers' ideas for designing their own WebQuests, and there are a range of templates and step-by-step guidance to doing so.  Fully developed Quests can be accessed by co-authors privately or collaboratively using a group code and shared with the community.  Users are encouraged to comment on other work and to build new Quests onto existing designs.   This is importantant as teachers aim to adapt exisiting material to suit the needs of their learners.

    Here is an example of WebQuest I've made:



    How can QuestGarden help language learning?

    QuestGarden can be used to facilitate language teaching and it provides a good platform for content and task-based learning. For example, teacher can build a Webquest about travelling to London. He or she may provide large amount of information concerning transportation, attractions, weather, history, food, tradition, etc. And the task for the learners is to plan a one-day trip to London using the inforamation provided in the WebQuest. During this process, learners can practice their reading, writing, speaking abilities as well as group work. 

    Whar are the advanteges of WebQuest?
    • Students are motived to exlpore all those intersting topics
    • Students acquire and learn English through the process of fulfilling the tasks
    • As well as learning language, Ss also briden their horizon
    • Group work is encouraged

    What are the limitations of WebQuest?

    •    Young learners may get distracted on the internet and cannot focus on the task.
    •    Classrooms have to be equipped with computers in order to fulfill one class dealing with   WebQuest. In some rural areas this is hard to achieve.
    •    Students may feel lost in front of huge amount of information.

    Jan 28, 2012

    Practice listening while listening to your favourite songs

    Find it so boring listening to those BBC news recommended by your English teacher? Actually there is another way which is even better than ever:)
    Here I want to introduce LyricsTraining to you.

    What is LyricsTraining?
    LyricsTraining is an easy and fun method to learn and improve your foreign languages skills through the music videos and lyrics of your favorite songs.
         For example, one famous song with R&B style from Eminem Ft. Rihanna -
         Love The Way You Lie 

    How to use it? 

    Write the song lyrics while listening the music:
    •  before you start, you can choose the level.

    •  To continue playing you must complete each line.
    •  To listen again the last line, press backspace key.
    •  If you can't understand a word, press tab key to jump to the next.
    •  Don't write spaces neither any special character.
    •   Finally you can even get your name on board if you did a good job

    Hope you can have a good time learning English^-^