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Digital language labs at SOAS: the transition from analogue to digital labs This document aims to give an overview of the latest information technology.

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Presentation on theme: "Digital language labs at SOAS: the transition from analogue to digital labs This document aims to give an overview of the latest information technology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Digital language labs at SOAS: the transition from analogue to digital labs This document aims to give an overview of the latest information technology developments in digital language labs at SOAS and how they benefit learning and teaching.

2 Introduction The Information technology explosion of the second half of the twentieth century has provided many more tools to help the learning process. Information Technology has greatly enhanced the ability of the language teacher to produce high quality teaching resources. The use of audio and video resources in general has created the possibilities of creating and implementing learning and teaching material in much more interactive formats, which can enhance and benefit learning.

3 Every learning occasion is unique Learning has always been part of the human experience. Yet our understanding of teaching and learning is still imperfect and the results unpredictable. A teaching strategy that works well with a group one day may not work at all with the same learners the next day.

4 Language teaching and technology Language teachers have been using technological aids for many years, some of which have been around since the beginning of the 20th century. Sound is indispensable part of all the above technologies because teaching a language without offering the learner the opportunity of hearing native speakers voices is unthinkable. Video offers additional opportunities for enhancing the learners experience, ranging from presenting gestures relating to the spoken language, to films on life and culture in the target language country.

5 Language teaching today utilizes varied forms of technology to enhance learning in the classroom: Digital language labs In a language lab students do not play a passive role, they listen to, and/or watch, multimedia materials in which native speakers are talking in authentic contexts. They can record themselves and listen to themselves speaking the target language and compare themselves with the original material. Finally they can converse with their fellow students in pairs or in groups using the target language. Students feel less self conscious, try harder, and are more open to try new things in a lab than in a classroom. Audio, video, multimedia and the internet provide culturally appropriate resources and prompts with which students can interact.

6 Benefits using digital language labs Exceptional audio quality Digital language labs with their exceptional audio quality enable teachers to interact with the whole class simultaneously, offering students the opportunity to develop their language skills, as well as their listening proficiency, in an environment that is entertaining and stimulating, and which promotes effective language acquisition. Stimulating, multimedia, authentic learning materials The use of authentic language materials, like radio and television programs, helps students experience the target language in a powerful, authentic context. Multi-path and differential materials that challenge every student Multimedia teaching materials employing text, video, and sound fully engage students in the language learning experience, no matter what their learning style.

7 Benefits using digital language labs Blended learning approaches involving multiple content types and sources High quality audio/visual or multimedia materials can be distributed live (without content duplication) to any or all students from almost any A/V source – including VCRs, CDs and DVDs. Pair work and small group work that encourage sharing and interaction Collaboration tools like audio pairing and audio conferencing provide every student with maximum exposure to diverse listening and speaking opportunities. Within a language lab, teachers can use modern techniques Within a language lab, teachers can use modern techniques to teach traditional subjects and to spark students' interest in learning, and because they can watch and listen to native language speakers, their listening, and speaking skills can greatly improve. The language labs support students in gaining more confidence speaking and overcoming their natural shyness.

8 Language teaching at SOAS using digital language labs At SOAS there are two melissi teaching labs, one of 12 positions and one of 25 positions. CETL has funded the project as its main aim is to promote and support excellence in the teaching and learning of languages. Weve been using melissi at SOAS since 2006 with very positive feedback from students and teachers.

9 MELISSI LANGUAGE LABS A melissi lab is a network of simple PC computers with melissi software installed, which provides most of the functions of a conventional (analogue) language lab together with integration of video, word-processing and other computer applications. The Digital Classroom is the main software and consists of a teacher program plus student software installed on each students computer. Student learning is enhanced when each student is equipped with their own personal computer. This maximizes interactivity by empowering students to personalize their research activities and self-manage the approach they use to tackle individual assignments. All the computers "talk" to each other across the network. The teacher's installed software is quite different from the students and uses a variety of tools to control the class. Melissis interface is designed to make it easy for any instructor to use. Key functions are readily accessible on-screen so that the teachers focus remains on teaching while the software easily delivers course content, enables interactivity, and provides classroom control.

10 Benefits using melissi Only standard-specification PCs and network are required. The teacher can easily produce audio and video files from cassette, VCR, DVD and CD and transfer them quickly to their students in advance or on the fly during the class. The teacher can monitor the students' recordings, and can speak to the students individually or collectively through their headphones. The teacher can hold a conversation with a student over the audio channel. At any time the teacher can interact with a subgroup of the whole class or the whole class or give instructions over the audio channel. The teacher can view a student's desktop and remote control his/her mouse and keyboard.

11 Benefits using melissi At any time the teacher can discretely listen to their progress. Students can record their voice in synchronisation with the audio playback of these lesson files. Students can work on documents, using a word processor, while listening or watching material either sent from the teacher or off the web. Students can call and speak to the teacher or "telephone" other students in the class. Students can use the virtual recorders, which permit students to provide oral and/or written responses to teacher specified activities.

12 SANAKO LANGUAGE LABS At SOAS there is one Sanako Lab 100 teaching labs of 16 positions with new student furniture as well as a new teacher console. CETL has funded the project as its main aim to promote and support excellence in the teaching and learning of languages. Weve been using Sanako Lab 100 at SOAS since 2006 with very positive feedback from students and teachers. SANAKO Lab 100 is a flexible language learning center that requires only one computer – which is the teachers. Students are equipped with simple to operate user audio panels with high-quality digital audio. The Sanako Lab 100 language learning center offers a wide variety of learning activities to choose from, such as Pairing, Listening Comprehension and Recorded Response. The teacher's user interface is very simple and functional and offers total control of the student user audio panel regardless of the activity, and is available in multiple languages.

13 Benefits using Sanako Lab 100 More speaking and listening Everyone hears high quality digital audio without delays and echoes and comfortably communicates using high quality headsets. Students practice listening and speaking using comparative recording, that is, they listen to a lesson or any audio passage, and record their own responses and then compare the original audio file. Students can (at their teachers discretion) independently control audio files playback, including adjusting the volume, rewinding/fast forwarding, and pausing. Students work together in pairs or groups that the teacher can select, allowing more time to practice speaking and communicating and the ability to speak more easily with each other in the target language.

14 Benefits using Sanako Lab 100 The teacher can assign audio files for individual study. At the end of the session, the students recordings can be collected and saved. Audio sources can include any digital media that you can access through your computer or any shared network resource. Auxiliary sources, such as MP3, CD audio and audio/video cassette players, can also be connected through a Program Source Interface. The teacher, during each session, can initiate and assign different activities for the students to work on. All functions of the lab can be observed, listened to and controlled by the teacher at the teacher console. The teacher can group students in pairs or groups for discussion, as well as enabling students to talk to each other in phone mode. The student groups or pairs can easily change at will enabling more communication between all students. The teacher can speak to individual students, pairs or groups of students, without disturbing the activities of the rest of the class.

15 Infrastructural points Copyright and conversion to digital formats One disadvantage is that how easy to convert analogue materials to digital format, which only takes time, but is usually not permitted under copyright laws. Training Training is an area that is commonly neglected. The failure of technology to make a significant impact on teaching and learning can often be traced back to the lack of appropriate training for teachers in making the best use of the ICT training presents a particular problem, because computer technology changes very often, so training must be an ongoing process rather than a one-off. Real time digitisation Digitisation could be very time consuming process, audio and video can only be digitised in real time, so if you want to convert an hour of Live TV materials you need one hour of digitization. Storage of digitised material Digital audio files are large, though can be compressed and digital video files can be even larger, so you need plenty of available server space – and back up. Computer Networks Speed of networks, size of files, number of students accessing the file, and how you want to use the file in the classroom, you may experience some intermittence with the delivery of audio or video over a network.

16 Technology does not necessarily drive education That role belongs to the learning needs of students. With language labs, the process of learning can become more participatory, flexible, tailored to individual learning styles, and increase collaboration between teachers and students. Language labs and multimedia enables learning to become fun and friendly, without fear of inadequacies or failure.

17 Conclusion Todays modern language labs play a vital role in language learning, in fact for students who are part of the video game / internet / cell phone generation, modern language labs play a major role in grabbing student attention and keeping students motivated to learn. The potential for students of all ages to be part of a creative educational programme through technology will assist educators to shift from teacher to facilitator and mentor.

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