Tuesday, 22 June 2010

eBooks for Kids that Read Themselves

I've just spotted this wonderful online library for young learners called MeeGenius. It has a great collection of classic stories and fairy tales that are delivered as illustrated online books.

The library is very easy to navigate, just click on the book you want. You can personalise the books my selecting the names of the characters in the book, though you have to register to save these, or just read through by clicking on the button to read and clicking to turn pages.

You can also click on the 'Play' option and when you do this you hear the book being read to you with the words being highlighted as you hear them.
This is a great site to help younger learners with their reading. the stories are ones that will probably be familiar from their L1 anyway and this combined with the audio support and word highlighting should really help not only with their reading but also their listening skills and pronunciation.

There is also a mobile app for iPhone- iPad - iTouch, but it isn't free (the website is free). I bought it for about 2 euros and it works pretty effectively. You still have to download each book before you read it, so this is best done on a wireless connection (so you aren't paying mobile rates) but it is then stored on your device until you want to read it.

The site and the app are really good recommendations for parents if you want to advise them on how to support their kids learning development and help them to read with the kids.

I hope you find MeeGenius useful.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

Monday, 7 June 2010

Teaching Grammar Through Songs

I have to admit that I find teaching grammar a bit on the boring side and finding good examples of grammatical structures in interesting authentic text can be quite time consuming, so when I saw this lyrics search tool Lyreach I was instantly impressed.

All you need to do is type in an example of your grammar structure and you can then find it in a whole range of different song lyrics.

This links to the lyrics start to show beneath the search box as you type, and then you just click on the sentence to link to the correct verse from the song. You'll see the part of the song highlighted and there's a link to a clip from Amazon.

Unfortunately the clip is only the start of the song and may not have your grammar example in, but it is easy from hear to find the clip on YouTube or find the clip and the rest of the lyrics together using a tool like Tubeoke that matches clips to lyrics.

So now using these two easy tools you can find lots of authentic examples of your grammar points in song lyrics and create quick activities based around them. You could even paste the lyrics from the verse into Wordle and use it as a prompt to get the students to drill, memorize or review the verse after they listen.

So, who says technology doesn't save time??

I hope you find Lyreach useful.

Related links:


Nik Peachey

Thursday, 3 June 2010

ESL Activities to Explore Issues Around Human Migration

Over the last few months I have been gradually working away at editing lesson plans and writing activities that exploit materials from the OPENCities project and I would like to share links to those materials here.
OPENCities is a project that collects together information and case studies on best practice regarding the successful social and cultural integration of migrant workers and their families into their host cities. As many of you probably already know, the issue of migration will be one that is and will continue to have huge impact on our societies over the next few decades and dealing with this effectively is going to be of key importance.

Language is of course a huge issue for anyone moving to another country and so it seems appropriate that the materials, information and images from the project be exploited for their language learning potential, as well as the potential they have to inform, enlighten and open up discussion about what can be a very sensitive issue.

Here are links to some of the materials.

Who is it?
This activity contains audio, script and images of real people who migrated to Dublin. The students find out about some of the real people and have to imagine the lives of some of the others to build up a profile.

Image by Veronica Vierin www.ctmp.ie
Activity: Who is it?

The challenges of being a migrant
This is a speaking and listening activity that involves students in thinking about the kinds of problems and challenges they might face as a migrant going to Belfast. They then listen to the true stories of 5 migrants talking about the challenges they have faced and this is made more real for students because these are genuine stories and the materials include images of the real people.

Activity: The challenges of being a migrant

Artists as immigrants
People’s ideas of what an immigrant to their country is and the kinds of work they do can often be very stereotyped, so in this activity I’ve tried to confront those stereotypes by using images of different kinds of artists all of whom are migrants to Dusseldorf. The students have to imagine they are one of the people and try to see the experience of migrating from their perspective.

Images by Liza Nguyen www.liza-nguyen.com
Activity: Artists as immigrants

These are just a few of the activities I’ve created and there should be some more on the way soon. There are also 4 complete lesson plans with pages of linked activities.

Most of the materials contain images as well as Mp3 audio recordings for listening exercises. You can find a complete list in the Education section of the OPENCities website.

I hope you find these activities useful, and if you d then look out for more coming soon.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Future of Educational Technology 3: Augmented Reality and ELT

In this article I want to have a quick look at Augmented Reality and what potential it holds for the future of English language teaching.

What’s Augmented Reality?

Basically, augmented reality can be defined as the interweaving of virtual Internet based materials with or physical reality. This still sounds a bit vague, so let me take this a step further. Virtual reality works with the aid of GPS (Global Positioning System) type mobile devices which are able to accurately track your physical location and they deliver to your mobile device information from the Internet which is specific to that location.

Image from Sndrv

By specific to that location, I don’t mean that if you are in London you get information about London. It’s much more specific than that. You can be tracked through your mobile device to the exact square metre on which you are standing and the information can be delivered about exactly what, or potentially who you are looking at from moment to moment.

You can see a simple video explaining augmented reality here: Augmented Reality
Most virtual reality applications at the moment are being delivered through mobile phones with cameras on, so when you hold up your mobile phone and point the camera in any direction you can see information about the things around you on your phone screen and click on the screen to get more information.

Image from PetaPixel article on AR apps for History

One marvelous example of how this can be applied is a free virtual reality App for the iPhone called Streetmuseum which has been developed by The Museum of London. It enables users walking around the streets of London to hold up their phone and get a 2D or even 3D image overlay of what that street would have looked like at some point during history.

Augmented reality in 3D can also be applied to books. You can experience this on your computer now if you have a web cam and a printer. Just follow this link to Ecomagination at http://ge.ecomagination.com, print up a simple piece of paper and follow the instructions. You’ll see a 3D animated model with sound and movements that you can actually interact with appear in front of you on your screen.

Think about how this simple piece of paper if applied to the pages of a book, could transform the experience of reading and the relationship of text to images.

How will Augmented Reality impact on teaching and learning?

  • It means that we can take learning out of the classroom and deliver it to exactly where and when students need it. 3D interactive learning materials can be delivered to students on the spot at the supermarket, train station, bank whenever they need it just through an app in their mobile phone camera.
  • Not only this but the ability of GPS to accurately track location means that you can track other users of the same app, so that if you walked into a room full of people anywhere in the world and held up your camera you would be able to see information about those people, find out which were teachers or learners of English and have your face to face lesson, or peer to peer study group with anyone and anywhere you happened to be when you had the time.

So virtual reality applications have the potential to transform our social and learning reality. They have the potential to transform the way we read and interact with text. They have the potential to transform the way and the places where we teach and the relationship between teachers and learners.

Is this something we want? Do we want to be tracked by the Internet where ever we go? Well the fact is, that if you have a GPS enabled mobile device with you right now and it’s switched on, then this is already happening to you.

As for how we as teachers deal with this and the uses it’s put to in education, that still remains to be seen, but this is happening now and we need to be aware of and start thinking about how we want this to impact on our lives and work.

Related links:

Nik Peachey