From Camille Meritan:
At PSLLT 2018, I attended a talk by McCrocklin, Humaidan, & Edalatishams regarding ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) as a tool to help language learners receive feedback on their pronunciation. Their talk compared Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) and Google Voice Typing (GVT). They found very interesting results when comparing the two apps, and controlled vs free speech. Both apps seemed to perform equally. I use text-to-speech and especially google (Gmail) in my classroom, and it was nice to see that it was recommended by experts in the field. I use GVT with Gmail when I teach pronunciation to novice learners. They read sentences into their phones and can see what they say as the app transcribes as they speak. It can be frustrating for learners at the beginning but it quickly turns into a rewarding experience as their phones starts to pick up their speech.
I really like attending PSLLT because it is a small conference which allows graduate students to network with experts in the field of second language pronunciation such as Dr. Munro or Dr. Derwing. It is great for professional development because as a graduate student you are able to talk to them and get feedback on your ideas, presentation, and can ask them questions.
From Kailu Guan:
After returning from the 2018 ACTFL conference held in New Orleans, I am amazed at the breadth and depth of knowledge shared by the presenters. I particularly benefit a lot from a presentation offered by Professor Gary Baker and Professor Cheryl Johnson at the conference. In the presentation, the presenters shared several tangible tech tools that could be used in foreign language curriculums to truly make a difference in improving students’ proficiency.
The presenter started with an emphasis on the definition of language proficiency, which means the ability to use language in real-world situations in a spontaneous interaction and non-rehearsed context & in a manner acceptable & appropriate to native speakers of the language. The practice and assessment of the language, thus, should reflect authentic, real-world use of language, even though the language is learned and practiced in a learning environment. However, in my observation of the language teaching, learners’ performance in practice and assessment is usually somewhat different from their proficiency in real-world situations. They tend to perform better in classroom practice and in tests than they do in the real world because there is a discrepancy between the way we design our teaching and how the language is used in real-life. This is particularly true for the less commonly taught languages, such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese. As a Chinese L2 teacher myself, I do relate strongly with the challenge we are facing here. I am glad that in this presentation, I learned several handy tech tools that can be used to create more authentic activities for our students with a special emphasis on training authentic listening ability.
The first tool introduced by the presenter is a vocabulary learning website called Memrise, on which students can learn, consolidate, and self-assess their vocabulary knowledge via
multiple modules. Every vocabulary is accompanied with more than one authentic videos, recording real Chinese people modeling the pronunciation of the word. Another tool shared by the presenter is called Lyricstraining, which promotes language learning through music. Teachers can create lyric gap-filling activities based on the teaching objectives using Lyricstraining. The gaps can be generated either randomly or by design. Students can easily have access to the gap-filling activity on their mobile devices and compete with fellow students in a game-like mode. Finally, there is TalkAbroad, where the students can have conversation practices with real native speakers. Teachers can assign topics or interview questions to the students to bring to the conversations. In addition, TalkAbroad also provides conversation recordings so that students could review what they didn’t understand and further learn more based on that.
I am grateful to the presenters for their sharing! This conference trip was quite inspiring to me in that I got to learn so many handy and wonderful tech tools that could help me in my every work. I feel excited to employ these tools in my teaching to promote a more authentic foreign language learning, and I’m sure that many of you feel the same way too!