Digital Recording Tools ~ Modern and Classical Languages

The Modern and Classical Languages department has various ways of assessment using different forms of technology.  The Language Specialist project developed by Professor Ewald requires students to interview a project partner who did not speak English before 18 years of age.   This exercise provides an opportunity to apply linguistic concepts and terms obtained from their course to analyze a specific language, and compare it with English. “The goal is to become more knowledgeable of a language system that is presently unfamiliar to the student.” (Ewald)  After the first interview the student writes a short report of the interview primarily on language-related issues. Throughout the course they have ongoing conversations and interviews with their project partner about his/her experiences learning English, and about various characteristics of this person’s own native language.” (Ewald)

Hand held recorders are an excellent tool for interviews because they give students the ability to review an interview multiple times, while compiling data for a report.  Recorders permit freedom from taking notes, so students can observe facial expressions, hand gestures and other visual elements within conversation.  As stated in the syllabus for the “Language Specialist Project” conducted and developed by Professor Jen Ewald “Do not write a “transcript” of this interview; rather, report on it and analyze it, incorporating examples of what your informant said to illustrate your analysis.”  (Ewald)

In the article “Digital Audio Recording and its Applications within the Foreign Language Classroom” Schwenkler writes:

If students have access to mini-disk recorders or stand-alone laptop computers with microphone hook-ups, they can interview their classmates or community members.  Students can record native speakers’ voices, to use in focusing on   their own pronunciation and how it can improve.  Students can interview native speakers about their opinions, experiences, or for information about their home countries.  This information can then be presented in a multimedia PowerPoint or Photo story presentation with visual images, maps and graphs to accompany the audio files. This is taking digital audio recording to another level in extending the interactive, communicative web and bringing more people into the learning community.  Students practice speaking with native speakers and interviewing others, key interpersonal skills in the target language. (Schwenkler, 2008)

Two other forms of digital recording applications utilized within MCL are Garage Band and Audacity.  At the beginning of the semester language professors give students a “Baseline Oral Evaluation” to assess their competency from the beginning of the semester until the end.  Students are presented with questions from either a PowerPoint or orally by their professors, students must respond by creating an audio recording for assessment. Students create audio clips using the applications Audacity or Garage band while wearing a headphone/microphone set.

As Schwenkler states:

Digital audio recording is a useful tool in foreign language classrooms where a primary goal is for students to practice speaking the target language, hear how they sound, and improve their speaking proficiency.  By recording themselves speaking with the software, students’ original language production is recorded, and students have the opportunity to go back and hear their selves speaking. Now students are able to reflect on their accent, grammar, fluency, intonation, etc. This tool can serve a variety of purposes, including self-assessment, group work, dialogues, links to culture, and teacher assessment.  (Schwenkler, 2008)

The Modern and Classical Languages department is developing their 21st Century skills by integrating various forms of technology into their classrooms.  These audio recording applications add a stronger component for assessment and review, both on the teacher and students side.  The MCL population also utilizes recording exercises through various online “Language Labs” even when technology glitches have created challenges.  Embracing the learning curve, MCL faculty has resolved to teach students in a 21st century fashion by creating a more engaging atmosphere, and thereby meeting students’ needs.

Works Cited

Ewald, D. (n.d.). Language Specialist Project Syllabus. PA.

Schwenkler, C. (2008, October 19). Digital Audio Recording and its Applications within the Foreign Language Classroom. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from Connexions: http://cnx.org/content/m18046/latest/