Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 16, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

“Skqueak” Looks Like A Great App For Providing Audio To Photos

Skqueak is a new free iPhone app I like a lot that lets you easily provide audio for photos. There are several other apps on various “The Best…” lists I’ll be sharing shortly in the post that do something similar. However, I suspect that Skqueak is going to give them a run for their money. It’s very simple to use, it appears to have a very extended recording time (though I’m not sure what the time limit is exactly) and, most importantly, it makes it extremely easy to create sort of a seamless audio slideshow. None of the other similar apps have such an ability, or at least one that is as easy to use.

Here’s a short example:

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me and to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 21, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“VoiceGem” Looks Like A Good Place To Record Audio

VoiceGem lets you easily and quickly make an audio recording (I’m not sure for how long, but it certainly went on for awhile during my experiment) without having to register. You record and then email it to yourself or someone else.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get the url address to your recording without going to the email. That makes it less than ideal in class if you want students to make a recording and then copy and paste the url address into a blog, for example.

I’m still adding VoiceGem to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, but that list has similar sites that do give you the url address immediately.

You can never have too many of these kinds of sites, because you never know which ones will be blocked by school content filters.

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July 4, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Attach An Audio Message To Your Photo

In The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me, I’ve described some nice apps that let you add an audio recording to your photos and then share them.

enpixa is a new one that’s very similar to the others. It’s free, and you can add a thirty second recording.

In addition to adding it to that previously mentioned list, I’ll be including it in The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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June 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Croak.it” Lets You Easily Record a Thirty Second Message

Croak.it lets you easily record a thirty second message with a computer microphone. You then get a unique url address that you can share. No registration is necessary.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Thanks to Make Use Of for the tip.

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May 25, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Wow! Voice Of America Dramatically Redesigns & Expands Its Learning English Features

Voice Of America has long been known for its many English-learning features, especially what they called “Special English.” However, relatively recently (I can’t be sure exactly when, but I just discovered it today) they dramatically redesigned and expanding their offerings. And, boy oh boy, they are terrific!

Where should I start?

First, they now have a very attractive page where you can access all of their leveled interactive exercises, as well as their “Special English” news stories.

Their Go English site has long had specific excellent English-learning bilingual programs in Chinese, Farsi, Russian and Indonesian. But now they’ve also added Vietnamese.

The VOA Newsroom videos have all been integrated with English Central, which, in my opinion, is the best site on the web for learning English. What was particularly surprising to me, though, was that you don’t have to register on English Central in order to watch, listen, and practice speaking (and get graded on it) with all the videos. Maybe that’s the way English Central has been all along, or maybe its a new development just for VOA, but I had always assumed the speaking feature was only available once you sign-in to the site. Not having to register just makes it that more accessible.

And they also have a brand new Learning English main site.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff….

I’m adding all these sites to The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites.

I’m adding the new Vietnamese site to The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English.

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April 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Nice & Easy Audio Recording Tool

Record MP3 lets you, without having to register, create an audio recording that you can save on your computer and/or save on their site (a link is provided). It’s very simple to use, though I’m not sure what the maximum audio recording length is nor how long they keep it on their server.

My recording uploaded quickly using Internet Explorer. However, it would never upload when in Firefox.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Thanks to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning for the tip.

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April 8, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Student Writing & Metacognition

I’ve previously posted about having English Language Learner students write and describe the process they’ve used to write an essay (see A Pretty Darn Good Lesson — If I Say So Myself :) ). They then record themselves using the Fotobabble web tool.

I’ve got to collect all my posts related to metacognition into a “The Best…” list…

Last week, I had my Beginning ELL students do something similar, but a little different.

We’ve been working writing research essays, and using graphic organizers that they construct. Their first one was on an animal of their choosing (we’re going on a field trip to the zoo soon). They’ll be doing another one on a country of their choice and, to further solidify the writing process in their minds, they described the process they used. They’re holding their essays and their graphic organizers in the photos.

It’s a simple exercise that covers all four domains — reading, writing, speaking, and listening (we post them on our class blog and show them to the class).

Here are a couple of examples:

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March 14, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

Videos Of My Students’ “Ideal Neighborhoods”

Last week, I wrote about how my students were in middle of one of my favorite units — about focusing on neighborhood assets. You can read more about it there.

We’re now finishing it up, and students have developed their “ideal neighborhoods.” Here are a couple of same videos from them, along with a “bonus” musical video developed with Magisto, which I’ve also written about

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March 11, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Excellent Phone Apps For Taking Photos With Audio Descriptions

This week in class I’m going to start taking photos (and have students taking photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.

The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. The web version is already on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, and I’m adding the phone app there, too. You take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can share it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment (a photo of one of our dogs, Lola):

Another option, which was launched this week at the SXSW conference in Austin this week, is an app called Picle. It only gives you ten seconds of commentary, but you can choose to have it record at the same time you’re taking the photo or afterwards. It doesn’t offer an embed option, but you can link to it on the Picle website. It also doesn’t appear to give you an opportunity to re-record if you’re not satisfied with your first try. Here’s a sample – again of Lola.

I’d definitely vote for Fotobabble. However, since Picle is new, I assume they’ll be making lots of improvements in the future.

In addition to adding both to “The Best…” speaking list, I’m adding them to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

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February 7, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Intriguing Video On Telling Good Stories

I’ve heard/read about Nancy Duarte’s perspective on telling good stories before, and generally thought it was a bit convoluted and not helpful. However, either because I was feeling a little more patient (maybe I was also more willing to hear it) or because she did a better job explaining it, I got far more out of this recent TEDx presentation she made.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.

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January 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Speakpipe Is Super-Easy Way To Receive Audio Blog Comments

SpeakPipe provides you with a widget to install on your blog or website that lets readers send you an audio message of up to five minutes in length. The message goes to your Speakpipe inbox, and you receive an email notification that you’ve received one. More importantly, at least for teachers of English Language Learners, you also get a url address for the message that you can post so that students can use it to hear themselves.

Ronnie Burt at Edublogs told me that it would work with Edublogs, and that set-up was easy, though I didn’t initially believe him. However, the site has clear instructions on how to install it into various blogging platforms. It took me less than a minute to install it on my ESL class blog (you’ll find it on the right side saying “Send Voicemail”) so, if I can do it, you know it’s easy :)

Unfortunately, the only way others can hear the audio comments that are left is if you manually post them, so it’s not ideal. But it’s a nice tool that free — at least, for now.

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November 2, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Book Trailers From My Class

I’ve been doing a lot of video recording using my iPhone this year with my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners. It’s been great, though the audio is picked-up pretty poorly. So, last week I invested $50 in an IK Multimedia iRig Mic Handheld Mic for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and tried it out today.

It made an incredible difference, and all you have to do is plug it into the iPhone.

My students made book trailers (you can read more about book trailers here). You can see them all on our class blog.

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October 23, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Take A “Stress Test”

Stress Test supposedly analyzes your voice after you repeat a number of words and sentences shown on the screen, and then tells you how “stressed” you’re supposed to be feeling.

They say is uses a process similar to lie detectors. I’m skeptical about its accuracy, but it could be a fun short exercise for English practice if you have a few minutes left in a computer lab sometime.

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September 28, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“QWiPS” For Audio Recording

QWiPS easily lets you make a thirty second audio recording that you can share — you can also connect it to a photo or video.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Unfortunately, for now, none of the students in our district can use any site that requires audio-recording, including the best site on the web for ELL’s — English Central. Apparently, a new “tweak” this year in the content filters prohibits that activity (it hasn’t been a problem in previous years). However, to their credit, the district has responded to the concern my colleagues and I shared and sent staff to my classroom today to learn exactly which sites we needed to record on and what problems we had been having. Since our District Tech Department has always been exemplary in providing us support, I’m confident they’ll fix this issue promptly, too. I suspect that this prohibition might have been unintended consequence of some other change that was made.

I’m curious, though — have others had district filters prohibit student audio recording?

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September 24, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Sock Puppet Lollapalooza!

I’ve previously posted about the iPhone app called Sock Puppets, and how it’s a great way for English Language Learners to practice speaking.

Here’s a sample of yesterday’s class, and you can see a bunch more on our class blog. By the way, I offered extra credit for students say I was a “bad” teacher in the dialogue, but nobody wanted to :) :

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September 21, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

“Talking WeeMee” & Other iPhone Apps For Speaking Practice

I’m just starting to use iPhone apps with my English Language Learners, and they’re loving it. These puppet/avatar apps reduce student fear because the “puppets” are on the screen with their voices, but their faces are not visible.

I’ve previously posted about Sock Puppets. It’s a neat app, and, in many ways, one of my favorites — it’s easy and provides opportunities for multiple characters to record. The free version allows audio recording for thirty seconds, while the paid version has a ninety-second length. Unfortunately, I found the paid version to be very buggy, and had lots of problems uploading it to the Web. I asked Lisa Johnson for advice (I first heard about the app from her) and learned that she only used the free version. She suggested that the ninety second length might be the problem, and she was right (thanks, Lisa!). So we’ll still be using it, but, unfortunately, it will only be in thirty second clips.

We’re also going to be trying out another app called Talking Wee Mee. It just allows one character, though it appears to provide a one minute recording time.

Lisa also suggested Photo Puppet Go. It’s a little more complicated than the other two I’ve mentioned, but it does have potential.

I’ll be including all these apps in The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 22, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Shoutomatic Looks Good For Speaking Practice

Shoutomatic is a new site that lets you quickly and easily (after a very fast registration) record a thirty-second “shout” — an audio message — that you can embed or link to…

In addition, you have the option of uploading a photo to attach to your audio message, but you can’t just grab one for the Web with a url address.

It could be a nice and easy way for students to practice speaking.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 9, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Sock Puppets”

Sock Puppets is a simple iPhone app that lets you easily record a student and upload it to YouTube. It can be used to briefly record a student speaking or reading in class, or even to have two or three students record a simple play (the free app allows thirty seconds of recording while for 99 cents you can upgrade to 90 seconds). One major advantage of using this for speaking practice is that it’s the sock puppet that’s actually speaking on the display, not the student. It looks like it could have potential. Thanks to techchef4u for the tip.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me and to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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