Sunday, 11 March 2012

Create Authentic Text Based Lessons

I think we all know how potentially motivating authentic materials can be for our students, especially if those materials deal with something current and of direct relevance to our students' interests. The web is abundantly rich in these kinds of materials, but creating lessons based around authentic online materials can be time consuming and complex. There are issues of copyright to deal with, as well as the fact that once we have created our lessons, the text we build them on may disappear. If this is a problem you regularly face, then Lingle could be the answer to your prayers.

Lingle takes the process of finding text and creating lessons and exercises and turns it into a quick and simple 'click through' process.

Once you have registered on the site you will see a search field at the top of the page. Here you simply type in a key topic word around which you want your search to be based. You then also select levels and grammar points to refine your search.

Lingle will then show you a list of results that match your search along with dates and information about each article. You can the refine your search again to select texts from a particular source or based upon how recent they are.

Once you have found your text though, the real fun begins. At the click of a button, you can see all the topic related vocabulary or the difficult words instantly highlighted.

If you prefer to see the grammar contained in the article just click on the grammar tab, and you can see an analysis of the grammar in the article and see different grammar points highlighted.

All of this is fine, but how about creating a lesson? Clicking on 'Create a lesson' will open a new window for you to name your lesson and add a description. You can also decide if you want to include glossary or a gapfill activity based around the vocabulary in the text.

Now your text along with the glossary and gapfill activity will appear in preview mode. You can add additional activities to your lesson by clicking on 'Add Exercise'. You get a choice of 6 different types of exercise: Four of these are vocabulary or grammar gapfill type exercises and the other two enable you to create freer activities that you can write in yourself. These could be things like reading comprehension or discussion tasks etc.

Although these exercises are automatically generated, you do also have the opportunity to edit them and change any element you don't like.

Once you have finished adding exercises you can also arrange them in the order you want them and then print your lesson to use in class or save your lessons so that you can comeback and edit it again at a later date.

Lingle doesn't instantly create great lessons for you, you'll still have to think carefully about which exercises you use and how to arrange these so that you take your students on a developmental path through the materials, but it does take a lot of the hard manual work out the materials creation part and help you to create a collection of professional looking materials that you can access from any computer.

The sad part though is that Lingle isn't free. You can sign up for free and get a 6 day free trail. This will allow you to create up to 15 lessons and decide if you want to pay for an account. The price for a single one year subscription is €40, which is pretty good if you are going to use the site regularly to create materials and it could pretty quickly pay for itself by saving you time when you are creating materials.

I really enjoyed trying Lingle out. To get the best from it, you should have a look at the collection of instructional videos they have on the Lingle YouTube channel as they will show you in much more detail what it can do and how best to use it.

I really liked that it helped to find lower level texts so quickly and that it stores all the materials I create. On the down side, some of the gapfill vocabulary activities it created didn't really have enough context around the words to give a clear indication of which word went into the gap, but you can edit these ones out and select new ones from the Lingle database.

On the whole I would say that Lingle is a pretty good deal for anyone who wants to get away from a course book or who regularly has to create their own materials for specific groups. Why not sign up for a free trial, give it a try and leave a comment below telling me what you think of Lingle.

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Nik Peachey


Jennifer D Begg said...

How much does it cost?

ian said...

LingleOnline trial has recently been changed to 30days and 15 full analyses with nearly 200,000 articles added in the past 6 months or so there's plenty of time and choice to experiment with.

ian said...

Hi Jennifer, it cost only €40 for an annual subscription, for less than the price of a newspaper once a week you get access to thousands of articles published every week and all the tools, exercises and updates.

Cleve said...

I've seen Lingle in action and it's really very well done - a great tool. How has the copyright issue been dealt with?

Ian said...

@Cleve, LingleOnline has syndication type copyright agreements in place with all our content providers. Each subscription effectively sub licences those rights, so all our subscribers are covered.

Ian said...

@Cleve, LingleOnline has syndication type copyright agreements in place with all our content providers. Each subscription effectively sub licences those rights, so all our subscribers are covered.