Students learning speaking assessments

If you have a textivate Premium or Group subscription, your students get a shared student password which enables them to:

  1. Browse the public resources on textivate.
  2. Modify existing resources and do activities "on the fly".
  3. Create their own activities "on the fly".
  4. Save their own texts in local storage for access on the same device (or on the same user profile if on a school network).
  5. Copy and paste their resources between textivate and other text storage such as word docs, txt files or email messages.

Enhancing "on the fly" resources with extra features

In addition to a text or a list of matching items, students can also add...

  1. A parallel text (containing a translation of the text in English, or containing notes as prompts to reproduce the parallel text)
  2. Text-to-speech! -- with all of the usual caveats regarding the accuracy of text-to-speech, it can be really useful in helping students to learn the correct pronunciation.
  3. A parallel audio or video.

With regard to speaking controlled assessments this means that students can add notes and audio / TTS (text-to-speech) to their practice text, and it's dead easy to do.

Here's what you have to do:

1. Add the text

Students can type or paste the text of their prepared CA speaking into textivate. They type this into the "Text" box. Here's an example in French:

D'habitude nous allons en Espagne. Cependant l'année dernière je suis allé en France avec mes parents qui s'appellent Maureen et Terry. J'ai voyagé en ferry. C'était génial. Nous sommes restés dans un hôtel. Il y avait une belle vue. L'hôtel était confortable. On l'a beaucoup aimé. J'ai aimé la petite piscine moderne. Cependant je n'ai pas aimé le restaurant.

Chaque jour je nageais à la plage. C'était la plus belle plage que je connaisse. D'habitude après avoir nagé j'ai joué au football à la plage. On a visité le musée. J'ai vu les monuments. Le soir je n'ai rien fait. Il faisait beau en générale mais il pleuvait de temps en temps. À mon avis c'était amusant.

J'ai apprécié la France, je voudrais y retourner un jour sans mes parents. Par contre l'année prochaine je voudrais aller en Italie car j'adore le beau temps et j'adore la cuisine locale, donc si j'avais le choix j'irais à Rome. Je visiterais les églises.

2. Add some notes

For GCSE speaking assessments students are allowed to take along some notes, the rules for which are different for each exam board. I think I'm right in saying that they don't usually allow conjugated verbs. The notes are intended to jog the students memory of the text that they have prepared.

e.g. for the above text, these notes might be appropriate:

D'habitude - Espagne
dernière - France - ferry - génial.
hôtel - belle vue. confortable. aimer piscine - pas restaurant.
Chaque jour - nager - plage. plus belle.
après > football.
musée. - monuments.
Soir -  rien.
beau - *pluie* - temps.
amusant.
Apprécier - - - retourner.
Par contre - prochaine -- Italie -- temps -- cuisine . Rome -  églises.

These notes are typed into the "Parallel text" box (via the "Extras" tab), as explained in this blog post.

(See the image at the top of this blog post for an idea of what this might look like on the screen.)

3. (a) Record and link the audio

See this blog post for more info. This adds an audio player to all of the textivate activities. Audio files need to be stored on a third party site. One really good solution used to be clypit: https://clyp.it/ , but they changed their terms in 2017 so that you can't link directly to audio files. Other options include Dropbox or Podhost. (See the link at the beginning of this paragraph.)

If you feel your students are not up to the task of recording it themselves, you could always record their texts for them, in order to provide a more accurate model. (And provided you have a bit of time on your hands...) All you need to do then is provide each student with the link url to include along with their text.

OR...

3. (b) Simply add Text-To-Speech

Text-to-speech won't be perfect, but it is a really quick and easy way to add a voice to your text. See this blog post on how easy it is to add TTS to your resources.

OK, so what do I end up with?

Well, if you follow the steps above, you should end up with something that looks like the following in the textivate "Show all" textbox. (NB. the resource below has added text-to-speech, an audio link, and a link to an image containing a word cloud):

D'habitude nous allons en Espagne. Cependant l'année dernière je suis allé en France avec mes parents qui s'appellent Maureen et Terry. J'ai voyagé en ferry. C'était génial. Nous sommes restés dans un hôtel. Il y avait une belle vue. L'hôtel était confortable. On l'a beaucoup aimé. J'ai aimé la petite piscine moderne. Cependant je n'ai pas aimé le restaurant.

Chaque jour je nageais à la plage. C'était la plus belle plage que je connaisse. D'habitude après avoir nagé j'ai joué au football à la plage. On a visité le musée. J'ai vu les monuments. Le soir je n'ai rien fait. Il faisait beau en générale mais il pleuvait de temps en temps. À mon avis c'était amusant.

J'ai apprécié la France, je voudrais y retourner un jour sans mes parents. Par contre l'année prochaine je voudrais aller en Italie car j'adore le beau temps et j'adore la cuisine locale, donc si j'avais le choix j'irais à Rome. Je visiterais les églises.
###startextra###
###tts-t:French###
###audio:https://clyp.it/ddnm3apr.mp3###
###image:https://phaven-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/files/image_part/asset/1336218/XDMCGE2QDtRmHc80XJMmcxcoM9A/medium_030215_wordcloud.png###
D'habitude - Espagne
dernière - France - ferry - génial.
hôtel - belle vue. confortable. aimer piscine - pas restaurant.
Chaque jour - nager - plage. plus belle.
après > football.
musée. - monuments.
Soir -  rien.
beau - *pluie* - temps.
amusant.
Apprécier - - - retourner.
Par contre - prochaine -- Italie -- temps -- cuisine . Rome -  églises.
###endextra###

(You'll notice that the above info contains a reference to an audio file -- this is one that I've uploaded to clyp.it -- as well as a reference to TTS, and also a link to an image containing a word cloud for the text. Students don't need to include all of these additional elements, obviously.)

Students can simply save the resource in local storage for access on the same device (or via the same userprofile on a school network).

OR they can copy the entire text into a txt file, one note, word doc, email message, in dropbox, etc. -- somewhere that they can access it from on different devices -- so that they can copy and paste it back into textivate on another device later.

And what sort of activities does that provide?

Well, in addition to the text sequencing activities such as this, this, this, this and this, which are aimed at helping the student to get used to the format of the text and how the bits of text fit together, the student can do all of the activities with audio added, so s/he's getting lots of exposure to the way the text is supposed to sound.

This is the menu screen with access to the full range of activities.

You'll notice that at the top of the screen (on any of the above links) there is a little audio icon and a little text icon. Click on these to access the menu or the activity along with either the audio player or the notes.

This is particularly good for the latter stages of the revision process. 

It adds possibilities such as:

Students can switch between activities, trying them with or without audio; with or without the notes, depending on how well they have learnt the text and how well they can pronounce it.

All sorts of possibilities!

N.B. Students will not be able to create hyperlinks to their activities like the ones above, but they'll be able to access their own activities on any device (provided they have a way of copying and pasting into textivate).

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