Currently browsing Posts Tagged “Spanish”

Euronews: foreign language news with video, audio and transcripts


Euronews is an excellent resource for the post 16 languages teacher and student. It provides online access to news items in English, French German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic. However, what makes it different and more valuable to the languages teacher or learner is that, as well as audio and video, each news item comes with a transcript of what the news reader is saying in each of the languages. Need I say more.

This service offers my post 16 (A Level) students and excellent opportunity to practise and improve their listening skills, both at home and at school. A fantastic resource.

Many thanks to @spanishonly on Twitter for the tip off.

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Coffee Break Podcasting

Mark Pentleton, an veteran podcaster from the Radio Lingua Network, spoke about his experiences in podcasting at the recent Isle of Wight Conference, a superb and thoroughly enjoyable CPD event organised by Joe Dale.

Mark spoke about about his early podcasting with the Partners in Excellence podcast – the PiEcast, the wonderfully soothing Verbcasts, and his most recent podcasting adventures with the fantastic Coffee Break series of language podcasts, the very popular One Minute Languages and the brand new Show Time Spanish.

Listen to Mark, below, talk about how to ensure you make a good podcast as he reflects on his experience. These are the main points raised by Mark:

  • Learning in context – a podcast appeals to young audiences because it can be accessed using the technology they are used to.
  • Secret learning – students can listen to podcasts anywhere. Nobody needs to know what they are really doing.
  • Storage – the average mp3 players stores hundreds of hours worth of listening material, offering fantastic learning opportunities.
  • Access – providing anytime access promotes learning. If it’s on their iPod, they might just listen to it!
  • Just in time delivery – RSS (Really Simple Syndication) ensures new podcasts are delivered without any further intervention from podcaster or student.
  • Learning by podcasting – Students learn most by making their own podcasts.
  • CPD – Podcasting provides fantastic opportunities, not just for students, but also for professional development.

Listen to Mark as he discusses the topics raised above and some more.

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Don’t forget you can subscribe to these podcasts in iTunes. The podcasts are also available from PodOmatic.

Many thanks to Joe Dale for recording the session and to Mark for delivering it. If you want to listen to the whole of Mark Pentleton’s session on Podcasting at the Isle of Wight Conference, then go to Joe Dale’s blog Integrating ICT into the MFL Classroom.

What do you think? Are you already using podcasts? Would you consider starting?

Photo from Flickr 

Assessing with video: giving students control


Remembering Madrid 2008 from José Picardo on Vimeo.

I’ve been meaning to blog about this little gem my students created for some time but a combination of forgetfulness and business (as in being busy, not the other, more profitable kind of business) has prevented me from doing it any earlier. 

Last Easter we took our boys to Madrid for a week in which we combined a language course with cultural visits and evening entertainment, all of which our students really enjoyed. We felt the boys learnt a great deal from the experience and gained a greater understanding, not only of the Spanish language, but also of Spanish culture and customs.

I thought it would be a great shame not to create a permanent record of their experiences, so I decided to set them a video task, the result of which you can see above, which I could then publish in our subject blog.

Taking a step back

I took a hands off approach from the outset. I let them do the recording how, when and where they wished. My only instructions to them were:

  • Take our department’s DV camera
  • Talk in Spanish and only Spanish about your experiences in Spain
  • Return the DV camera to me by the end of 3rd break tomorrow

Why did I choose to take a step back?

I have found from previous experience that if the teacher is present and makes the students talk in the target language, the results can often appear contrived and a little forced.

This time I decided to trust my students with the camera and see what they came up with. They did not disappoint and produced wonderfully long pieces of complex Spanish language about their experiences in Madrid.

My part in the video making process was simply to collect the camera and put a movie together using iMovie (you can achieve similar results with Microsoft’s Movie Maker).

Was the result better than it would have been otherwise?

Yes, definitely. I was very pleasantly surprised, not only about the complexity and accuracy of their Spanish, but also about the way they had used their imagination and creativity to come up with what to say as well as the shape the final product was going to take. It was also their idea to use Animoto for the the opening and closing credits and the music you can hear is also written and performed by the boys themselves.

Although some of them were clearly reading from a script, it is obvious from the video that they didn’t feel under pressure to perform, as they might have been in a classroom or if the teacher would have made them say things for the camera. Their Spanish actually sounds authentic and fluent.

In terms of assessing their ability to express themselves in Spanish, this exercise has really been an eye opener: not only can my students speak Spanish, but they can do it better when I’m not there! It all makes you wonder whether a formal oral examination is the best way to assess their ability to communicate in the target language, doesn’t it?

My relinquishing control of the task allowed my pupils to demonstrate responsibility and creativity and gave them confidence and motivation to speak in Spanish. 

Have you had similar experiences when pupils have performed better in a less formal form of assessment?

Seeqpod: the easy way to take music to your classroom (or blog!)

This one was brought to me by Phil, a former pupil who wrote about it on my wall on Facebook. ¡Muchas gracias Phil!

What is Seeqpod?

Seeqpod is a mashup that brings together searches from a number of different media hosting websites and dispays the results all in one place.

What makes it different from the rest?

Seeqpod searches the entire web, so that means you can search any artist in any language you want and then allows you to create your own playlists (as shown above). Oh, and it’s free and it plays full tracks, not just previews.

So what?

If, like me, you enjoy using music and lyrics in your lesson, with Seeqpod, providing your network isn’t too strictly filtered, you can forget about bringing your music in CDs or flash memory sticks (forget is precisely what I generally do!). All you have to do is save your playlists to access from the web later, when it suits you in a particular lesson. You can save as many playlists as you like: one for Spanish, another one for French… you get the gist.

Now the nice part

Seeqpod allows you to embed songs or playlists directly to your blog or website. So there is no need to upload media or anything complicated like that, simply copy and paste the provided embed code and off you go. Below is an example.

Isn’t it great when something simple like this makes your life so much easier, your lessons more fun and your blog more interesting, all in one stroke?

Así has had a make over

Last summer (2007) I decided to create a website where I could put all the interactive exercises I created using mainly Hot Potatoes, but also other game makers. I called it Así Se Hace which, liteally translated means that’s how you do it but really means well done! or good work!

I started it off before I was familiar enough with Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress (which powers this site) and it lacked a number of features such as flexibility, usability and functionality. Updating the website meant plunging into dark recesses of html code inside my computer where, truth be told, I didn’t always know what I was doing.

My hope is that Así now:

  • is easier to update and therefore, in theory, I will update it more often
  • offers the visitor improved navigation both at the top and bottom of the pages, but also in the side-bars
  • offers the possibility to anyone who is interested of subscribing either via RSS or via email

Many thanks to everyone who has given me feedback since last summer, in particular Róisín Watters, Graham Davies, Mary Cooch, Clare Seccombe and everyone else at the TES MFL Forum for their advice and support.

I am, as always, keen to receive feedback and criticism, so please let me know what you think. Is there anything I can improve in your view?

Do you know of a teaching and learning resource you would like to share? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.