One of the biggest challenges of online study courses is to introduce meaningful speaking activities. Too often such activities consist of listening to and then repeating a word or a phrase. These may be recorded for a learner to playback and compare with the original. On some apps, if this is done accurately then the software marks you as correct.
However, while such activities might improve pronunciation, they do not improve a student’s ability to engage in conversation. The words and phrases are treated in isolation. Learning is atomised.
This is not very useful. Language is a big complex thing where vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation combine in infinite ways to create meaningful communication. Words mean nothing without context.
So, how does a student practice speaking ‘whole language’ on an online study course?
Introducing interactive recordings! The activity works like this.
- The student listens to a dialogue of different participants speaking. They may have already heard the dialogue and worked on some of the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation in previous pages.
- The student plays the dialogue again, this time with the parts of one participant missing. The other participants are still there.
- Instead of the missing parts, there is a tone. Here the student says what they think makes sense for the conversation. They already have a good idea from having heard the original.
- The software records the student’s voice in each part. At the end, the student then listens to the whole dialogue with them speaking as one of the participants, so replicating a real conversation.
- They can then compare themselves to the original, both by listening to it again or by reading the transcript. They can play it to a teacher or a friend for comment. The dialogue can also be downloaded as an mp3 and shared or stored.
In SLC’s courses, these are typically dialogues where the student plays a healthcare professional such as a doctor or a nurse talking to a patient or colleague. By doing the activity, they get a real sense of being part of a conversation.
How does a teacher work with interactive recordings?
For teachers working with learners, interactive recordings offer a brilliant way of getting students to practice speaking outside the classroom. And because the dialogues are all recorded, the teachers can log into the Learning Management System to listen to what their students have done.
They can then give feedback, as well as understand where strengths and weaknesses are, so they can plan accordingly. Teachers can also download the recordings, so they have an ongoing record of student progress as a course goes on.
Interactive recordings as part of digital coursebooks
All SLC’s courses are designed to be used by teachers with their students as well as taken as self-study. They act as digital coursebooks, where the students complete the answers on their copy, and the teacher can check and feedback on student work at any time.
These courses are currently used in schools and universities around the world. They are designed to be accessible, attractive and easy to use. Teachers receive guides with answers, transcripts and texts. SLC provides ongoing academic and technical support to all our customers.
The courses are also constantly updated to remain fresh and relevant. And – as the interactive recording shows – we are working hard to make sure that we use the latest in available activities to keep the courses engaging and useful at all times.
Want to see a course for yourself?
SLC provides review copies to schools and universities interested in using the courses with their students. Get in touch to see how it can work for you.