All posts by Betsy Lavolette

About Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

Typing in pinyin with tones

If you need to type using Chinese characters, you can install a Chinese keyboard. But what if you need to type in pinyin, the writing system for Mandarin Chinese that uses the same alphabet as English? Oh, and you want to include the tone marks?

For example, what if instead of

你好

you want to type

nǐhǎo

?

Happily, there is a solution for every operating system.

If you use a Mac laptop or desktop, follow the instructions from Pin Pin Chinese to install the U.S. Extended keyboard. (It’s call “ABC Extended” on my operating system.) You have to use some keyboard shortcuts to type the letters with the tone marks, but they are fairly easy to learn if you use them regularly.

If you use a PC, download and install Pinyinput. You can pay as much or as little as you like, and if you just want to try it out, you can pay nothing and come back later to pay what you think it’s worth. (There is also a Mac version, but you are compelled to pay AUS$5 to download it. It may be worth it if you can’t get comfortable with the keyboard shortcuts mentioned above.)

Here’s how you type using Pinyinput. Just type normally, then add the number for the tone before you press enter.

  • e.g., to type
    nǐhǎo
    type “ni3hao3” and press enter.
  • to type
    lǜchá
    type “lv4cha2” and press enter.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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Basic Excel for teachers

On Wednesday, October 12, I held a workshop on Basic Excel skills for teachers and researchers, with the following description:

Do you use Excel as a grade book or for data collection? In this workshop, you’ll work with Excel hands-on to develop basic skills, such as quickly copying numbers down columns, keeping headings visible at all times, and sorting columns in the most convenient order. If you consider yourself an Excel jockey, this is not the workshop for you–but if you need basic tips and tricks, you’ll find them here.

Feel free to access the handout, with animations of how to do each task within Excel.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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Presentation created with Articulate

Articulate – Software for created flipped classroom lessons

In October, I gave a workshop on how to create interactive video lessons using an application called Articulate Studio 13. This software is a plug-in for PowerPoint, so it’s easy to learn to use. Above and below, you can see screenshots from a lesson that I created using Articulate, and you can view the whole lesson on my personal website.

We’ve recently seen some examples of how professors at Gettysburg College, e.g., Tim Good, are flipping their classrooms. I won’t go into detail here about why you might consider flipping your language classroom, but one area where it I think it can be highly useful is grammar instruction.

Why flip a grammar lesson?

It’s often useful to teach grammar via students’ first language. One reason for this is that the vocabulary needed to understand a grammatical explanation in the target language is often much more advanced than the grammar point itself. On the other hand, teaching grammar in English disrupts the flow of the classroom in the target language. One way around this problem is to move grammar instruction outside of class time using a flipped classroom model.

Using Articulate, you can create presentations with animations, which may be superior to text for explaining certain grammatical concepts. You can also add voiceover, videos (e.g., of yourself via webcam), and quiz questions. All of this may lead to a more engaging experience for students–and frees up time for using the grammar communicatively during class.

Do uncountable nouns have singular or plural forms? Click yes or no.
Screenshot from Articulate lesson

 Basic steps to creating an interactive presentation using Articulate

  1. Create a PowerPoint.
  2. Add animations.
  3. Add a script for voiceover in the notes section.
  4. Record the voiceover (Articulate -> Record Narration).
  5. Sync the animations with the voiceover (Articulate -> Sync Animations).
  6. To preview, publish as Web (Articulate -> Publish).
  7. To add to Moodle, publish as LMS (SCORM 1.2). When the publishing process finishes, click “ZIP.”
  8. Add ZIP file to Moodle as “SCORM Package.” Select “Appearance” -> “Display Package in new window” for best viewing results.

Where is Articulate available?

You can download a free 30-day trial of Articulate. The full version is also available for use by any Gettysburg College faculty member (language or non-language) in the LRC, 107 Breidenbaugh Hall. Contact the LRC director, Betsy Lavolette, for more information.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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WordPress logo

LRC Workshop: WordPress

The blog that you are reading now is built on WordPress!

WordPress is a versatile platform for creating blogs and websites. On March 2 and 24, I presented a workshop to faculty members about how to use this platform for their classes or as a professional home page.

As inspiration, I presented examples of WordPress pages created by Gettysburg College faculty members and others outside of the College. If you’d like to create your own, you can get started with a free site at WordPress.com.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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VReader: App that helps you read Japanese (and reads to you!)

I normally hesitate to recommend apps that cost money. But VReader is well worth the $3.99 price tag.

When you first open this app, you can choose from a list of popular and classic books, including 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. You can also import your own ebooks from iTunes.

VReader - list of books
VReader – list of books

When you open a book, you can tap a sentence to have the app read it aloud. You can tap individual words and phrases to get definitions in English.

VReader - book detail
VReader – book detail

I recommend this for advanced learners who are ready to transition to reading books intended for a Japanese audience.

You can try VReader for free, with access to a limited number of pages per book. VReader is available for iPad or iPhone.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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Sights and sounds of Biblical Hebrew

 

Do you recognize the language this text is written in?Biblical Hebrew text

This semester, five Gettysburg College students studied Biblical Hebrew from a beginner level with Professor Carl Choper. As their final project, they saw the text above and were asked to say everything they could about each word, using their own knowledge and a specialized dictionary. By the end of this course, the students were able to engage directly with this text in its original language. See below for an annotated version of the text. Do you recognize it now?

Biblical Hebrew text with English annotations

Although Biblical Hebrew is not a spoken language, Professor Choper brought an oral element to the class through his work as a rabbi. In addition to teaching at Gettysburg College, Professor Choper works with interfaith dialog, advocacy, and community-building groups and is a rabbi at the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg  and the State Correctional Institute – Camp Hill. In his work as a rabbi, he often sings in Biblical Hebrew, and he decided to bring singing into the classroom as a teaching and learning tool. As Professor Choper said, “Singing is a wonderful way of putting foreign words into your mouth.” Listen to his beautiful voice below:

 

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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Language exchange from your phone: HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a free app (for iPhone, iPad, and Android) that students can use to do language exchanges with people from around the world.

HelloTalk profile

To get started, you create a profile that includes basic information about yourself, such as your name, age, gender, location, and first and second language proficiency. You can also include text and audio introductions.

Based on your profile, people will contact you through the app to do a language exchange via text and/or audio. You can also search for people who are native speakers of your second language.

HelloTalk correction example

HelloTalk includes tools for making corrections, which makes it helpful for language learning. In addition, you can send images and drawings to your partner.

Why not try it out? You have a chance to improve your second language and even make new friends!

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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LRC Workshop – Digital Storytelling

Thank you to those who attended the second LRC faculty workshop of the fall.

In about 45 minutes, I explained what digital storytelling is and how and why you might want to use it in your classroom. We also had hands-on practice using two tools: VoiceThread and YouTube.

If you were unable to make it to the workshop, you can still access the materials, which are all linked from a Google Doc.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the next workshop!

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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LRC Workshop – CLEAR’s Audio Dropbox, Video Dropbox, and Conversations

Thank you to those who attended the first LRC faculty workshop of the fall.

In about 45 minutes, I covered three tools from the Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR): Audio Dropbox, Video Dropbox, and Conversations. These tools are free, easily to embed in Moodle, and allow students to record audio or video directly in a web browser. For more about these tools, please check out the following article:
Rich Internet Applications: Overview, Audio Dropbox, Conversations

If you were unable to make it to the workshop, you can still access the materials:

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the next workshop!

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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IZI.travel – Create an audio tour

URL: http://izi.travel/how-it-works

Description: Create an audio tour for spots of interest. The content will automatically be displayed (e.g., audio will automatically be played) when the user approaches the marked spot.

Cost: Free

Izi.travel

Application:

Your language students can use the web interface to create tours of, for example, your campus. They can include text, images, audio, and video, and they mark the location on a map. Then, the user downloads the free mobile app (for iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone) and searches for your tour. When he or she approaches an area where the students have included tour information, that information is automatically displayed, and the audio automatically begins playing!

In addition to the language practice your students get from creating the tour, the tours they create can be used, for example, by international visitors and students who would like to enjoy a campus audio tour in their first languages.

(Crossposted at the CeLTA Technology for Language Teaching blog)

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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