Category Archives: Resources

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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‘Dobble’ the fun!

The latest game available at the LRC is aimed at students learning German, though it could be applied to any language. There are a few different ways to play; instructions are given in both English and German, and a list of images and their German words are also provided.


The basic concept is that any two cards has one and only one image that matches between them. Whoever points out the similarity between the cards will get a point. This game is great for students beginning to learn German who want to learn new vocabulary words, including remembering those pesky definite articles, and for those who want to get some practice speaking.

Dobble is similar to our other fantastic game Spot it!, which includes words as well as images and therefore has a different set of cards for each language.

Rory’s Story Cubes- New Game!

Proficiency in speaking and listening comprehension skills are important in learning a language-and passing your language finals.  The LRC has a new game that can help you practice these skills in any language you want.

The game consists of nine cubes, and each side of the cube has a different image, such as a bee, a fish, or a fountain.  In addition to the original, the LRC has two other versions, “Voyages” and “Actions” that have different images on the cubes.

There are a number of different ways to play, but each game type essentially consists of the same rules. Simply take all nine cubes provided and roll them. Then, starting with ‘Once upon a time….’ or whatever beginning you choose, select the image that catches your eye first. The objective is to tell a story that links together all nine images. Create an individual story or make it an improv game, with each player contributing part of the story.

French Readers

Although practice with speaking is important to learning a language, reading is also an indispensable tool. By just relying on listening or speaking, one loses out on understanding the fundamental rules to a language. Reading also helps many people visualize a language easier and therefore retain it. Reading in foreign languages is very daunting but that’s why graded readers exist! These books are written for the learners of a language and include a lot of information.

Here in the LRC, there is one copy of an intermediate Graded French Reader. However, archived here is a list of many public domain readers. They are available on a range of levels. For instance, A Graduated French Reader by Paul Barbier begins with a lesson on pronunciation of French letters. It includes many short stories and includes vocabulary at the end of each. Towards the back of the book poems are also included along with tables of irregular verbs and a full vocab list. For more advanced students, there are more challenging publications. One that seems particularly interesting to me is A Scientific French Reader written by Alexander Herdler that includes excerpts and diagrams of aviation, basic physics, chemistry, and so much more. When learning languages, one doesn’t get to encounter vocabulary such as this or to see the syntax of a language in a discipline like this. Although this might bore some people, we learn in different ways and exploring what may benefit or intrigue you the most is worth pursuing.

New Game in the LRC: Hit Manga!

Hit Manga is a multiplayer card game that can be played in both English and Japanese. Players are provided with 50 red cards (cards for taking), 50 gray cards (cards for reading), 4 yellow cards (negative points), and 4 blue cards (new rules that can be added). Before starting the game, all of the red cards are laid out on the table, a gray card for each player is set aside, and the rest of the gray cards are placed face down in the middle of the table as a stockpile. The directions specify that the “biggest Manga fan” takes his/her turn first. The first player up takes one gray card and imagines a situation for the scene on the card, describing where the person is, who the person is, what the person is doing, etc. He/she then acts out what the person on the card may be saying and doing, while the other players look at the red cards and try to determine which card the player is describing, taking a guess as soon as possible. When you think you have the correct card, show it to the first player. If the cards match, you both get one point, which you keep track of by keeping the cards. If your card doesn’t match, your chance is over and the other players take their guesses.

Be careful! Each player only has one guess per round! If no one finds the correct card, the player whose turn it is gets a yellow card, indicating that he/she has negative one point. The next player then picks up a gray card and tries to act it out and the game continues until the stockpile of gray cards runs out, or until all four yellow cards run out. The winner is the player with the most points. If there is a tie, the winner is determined by who has less yellow cards.

To change things up, players can use blue cards to add new rules to the game! These include communicating only through onomatopoeia, mimicry, and sound effects, communicating only with gestures, using your turn to build on the story of the previous player, and communicating using a rule you made up. The blue cards offer both an English and a Japanese explanation and the game comes with directions in both languages as well. Hit Manga can be an exciting way to strengthen your language by using it in situations you may not have before, or it can just be a fun game to play with friends!Hit Manga (1)

Learning a Language has never been so Transparent!

Please forgive my terrible puns. But learning German (or any language!) can be fun and easy using the many resources offered free of cost by the LRC, and one of my favorite examples is an online program called Transparent Language.

I used this resource to review some forgotten German vocabulary as well as try some of the basic lessons in Mandarin. Any German language learner at any level-beginner, intermediate or advanced- can use this program, which has a wide range of lessons and topics to choose from. You can skip around if you want, which is great for advanced speakers who don’t want to go through all the beginner lessons. The best thing about Transparent Language is that it helps in every area of language learning: reading, writing, listening comprehension, and speaking!

You do not need to be on an LRC computer to use this resource, but you can always come in and use our headphones and microphones for this program. To get started, visit the LRC webpage at and click on Resources. Under Online Resources, Transparent Language will be the first option. You will be asked to create a profile and a login and then you’re ready to go! 

Scribblenauts auf Deutsch!

Have you ever played the video game Scribblenauts? Modeled in the style of a comic book, Scribblenauts is a fun puzzle based game in which you must come up with different nouns to solve problems the hero, Maxwell, encounters.

At the LRC you can play Scribblenauts in German on our iPads! This game is best suited for intermediate or advanced German students because it requires a variety of vocabulary knowledge that beginner students may not have yet. However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying it! This game is excellent for practicing word recall and vocabulary, and Autocorrect can help you out with spelling. To play, make sure the language of the IPad is set on German by going to the IPad’s General Settings > Language and Region > iPad language.

The German department and German club participated in a Game Night in the LRC earlier in the semester, and once we started playing, it was hard to stop! This game is very fun when you creatively solve problems. For example, to cut a tree down to receive a star from the top, we used the obvious saw and ax, then were able to use einer Flammenwerfer-a flamethrower! The breadth of objects available for use in Scribblenauts never fails to astound me. 

Keep in mind that for each scenario you will have to come up with three different ways to solve the problem; essentially three different nouns that the characters can use. Additionally, you cannot use words you have already used in past scenarios, so choose wisely and be creative!

Spot it! Basic Italian

Here at the Language Resource Center, we carry Spot it! for basic Italian. Spot it! is an educational game that features universal images and words. Between any two cards, there is always only one matching pair. These pairs can be two images, two words, or an image and a word. Players can compete to find the matching pair before their opponent or race against the clock, seeing how quickly they can spot the matches themselves. Spot it! is an awesome tool for beginner Italian speakers. The repetition of the words among the cards solidifies word recognition and the pictures support reading comprehension. Saying the words aloud improves speech and trying to find matches quickly strengthens processing speed. Spot it! makes learning basic Italian vocabulary fun and breaks away from tedious memorization techniques. Playing Spot it! will improve your vocabulary and boost your understanding of the words you’re learning in a way lists and index cards can’t!

International Cinema Resource List: Italian Movies

As a Gettysburg College student, you have access to massive amounts of resources from Musselman Library. Did you know that these resources include THOUSANDS of foreign language movies? These movies (along with many others) can be found on the International Cinema Resource List. The International Cinema Resource List includes various Italian movies and information about them to help students find what they’re looking for. You can search by title (original or translated), genre, year released, language and country. The International Cinema Resource List also includes a link to movies’ IMDb profiles, whether it is available from Musselman Library, and the various other platforms on which each movie can be viewed (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, etc.).This tool is helpful for Italian speakers of all levels! Using this resource can make learning Italian both fun and challenging and can introduce students to Italian culture. The International Cinema Resource List offers Italian classics such as La vita è bella, Nuova cinema paradiso, and Ladri di Biciclette as well as newer movies such as Miele,  La grande bellezza, and Benvenuti al sud. Watching Italian films has helped me improve my listening and pronunciation skills and has given me a better understanding of Italian culture including their food, their relationships, and especially their humor!



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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