I've just been reading through chapter 10 of the excellent "The Language Teacher Toolkit" by Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti (available here).
The chapter is called "Working with written texts" and it gives a list of 30 or so different types of activities that can be done with written texts. As I read through the list it occurred to me that many of the activities listed can be automated and can therefore be delivered via textivate. I thought I'd put together some examples :)
The sections below are: 1. Listen and read; 2. Jigsaw reading; 3. Parallel texts; 4. Find the French; 5. Synonyms; 6. Definitions; 7. Question forming; 8. Completing sentences; 9. True, false, not mentioned; 10. Matching tasks; 11. Multiple-choice questions; 12. "Wh" questions; 13. Gap-filling; 14. Changing the point of view; 15. Translation; 16. Dictation; + Other activities.
1. Listen to the text as you read it
Thanks to text-to-speech in textivate (TTS - see this post), it's possible to listen to the text as you read it: on the menu screen, and on many of the activity screens. See the image of the menu screen below. (Click here to open the menu screen)
Text-to-speech isn't always perfect, I know. If you prefer, you can add an audio link (see this post).
Listening as you read helps reinforce the sound-spelling link and helps improve reading and listening skills as well as pronunciation.
2. Jigsaw reading
Textivate allows for all sorts of jigsaw reading: tile reconstruction and multiple choice reconstruction, which can work in either random-length chunks, by sentence, or by user-defined chunks.
e.g. Tiles, 3x4, random chunks (split by word count):
e.g. Tile reconstruction, split by sentence:
e.g. Multi-choice reconstruction, split by user-defined chunks:
3. Parallel texts
All activities on textivate can appear along with a parallel text, as can the menu screen. (See this post on parallel texts). Parallel texts can serve several functions:
- they can help students to understand a text
- they can help provide structure or guidance for a reconstruction activity
- they can act as a source text for translation
See how, in the image below, the parallel text helps with the reconstruction activity, in that it tells the students what the finished French text should say:
Note that textivate's parallel text feature makes many of the activity types listed on this post possible.
4. Find the French / Spanish / German etc
Textivate has the option to show the main textivate text (i.e. the one used in the images and examples above) along with matching activities, which is a really easy way of creating several "Find the ..." activities. (See this post for more)
e.g. Oral / flashcards with no clue. Students self-test, or you could use this for whole class. (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. Oral / flashcards with word shape clue. As above. Other clue options include initials, no vowels, no consonants, anagrams. (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. Type in the French. Other clue options include initials, no vowels, no consonants, anagrams. (Click here to open this activity)
5. Find synonyms in the text
This is a bit harder to set up than number 4 from the teacher's point of view, as you need to think of synonyms in the text. (Which is much harder than simply translating the vocab items to L1...). But it essentially uses the same method as number 4 above: adding synonyms as matching items and displaying the main text as a parallel text.
It's also a good idea to make the items appear in the same order in which they appear in the text, as I have done with the activity below.
Note that you could also do this as a flashcards activity, with the parallel text and with various clue options.
6. Definitions of words & phrases
Essentially the same as number 5 above, except that you'd use definitions as matching items.
7. Question forming
Provide a text in the L2 and ask students to provide the questions for specific answers within the text. This activity can be done on various levels with textivate. See the examples below based on a very simple Spanish text.
e.g. Jumbled words. (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. Flashcards (here shown with initials -- one of several options available). (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. Million. (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. Anagrams. (Click here to open this activity)
8. Completing sentences
Again, this uses the same parallel text method as the above activities. It can be done with varying levels of support. This is the most challenging version, with only word shapes provided.
9. True / False / Not mentioned
Again, this uses the same parallel text method as the above activities, this time with matching items used as a multiple choice quiz. (Fine-tuned so that questions appear in their original order.)
10. Matching tasks
Here I've used sentence halves based on a text, and in particular the 1 in 10 Multi-match activity. (I could have used any one of the many matching activities available...)
11. Multiple-choice questions
Again, this uses the same parallel text method as the above activities, this time with matching items used as a multiple choice quiz. (Fine-tuned so that questions appear in their original order). I've added "wrong answers" to each of the questions, as described in this blog post.
12. Answering "wh" questions
This can be done orally / in class, using flashcards, for example. (Click here to open this activity)
Or requiring students to provide spell out the answer. (Several options are available for this, with different levels of support, including initial letters, fill in the vowels, etc.). (Click here to open this activity)
By default textivate automatically generates a random gap-fill activity based on your text. You can choose whether or not the word list is displayed, whether or not the gaps are automatically checked, and whether to include text-to-speech. One benefit of the random gap-fill is that it is different each time it loads. And it is different for everbody in the class.
The embedded random gap-fill below includes text-to-speech (TTS).
Note that you could include a parallel text along with a gap-fill too.
In addition to the random gap-fill, you can also create your own user-defined gap-fill. This allows you to choose the words to be gapped and focus on particular vocab, structures etc. With the user-defined gap-fill, you can join words together to make multiple word gaps, and you can also include "red herrings" (as explained here).
The example below includes single and multiple word gaps, as well as a few red herrings. There is no TTS:
You can make multiple-word gaps based on meaningful chunks, as in the example below:
Many of the other textivate formats can be seen as variations on gap-filling. The Anagrams, Initials, 50:50 and No letters activities, for example, can be set to only affect a certain proportion of the text. See the "Initials" example below, which is set to affect 1/3 of the words in the text (and the words chnage each time...). (No TTS):
14. Changing the point of view (tense / person etc)
Simply add a parallel text in a different tense and you have an activity like the one pictured below, requiring the students to re-write the text in the perfect tense. (Click here to open the activity)
Or you can ask students to transform the text using a different person, as in the example below. (Click here to open the activity)
The above activities could also be delivered as a gap-fill with a parallel text and no word list, as in the example shown below. (Click here to open the activity)
There are so-o-o-o many translation options with textivate. There's a blog post called "Scaffolding translation", which lists many ways of using parallel texts on textivate to generate translation-like activities.
Click here to read the "scaffolding translation" post, with tons of examples, including vocab games.
I'll include a couple of examples here as well...
e.g. Initials as support: (Click here to open this activity)
e.g. 50:50 (half the letters removed from the text): (Click here to open this activity)
The "Scaffolding listening" blogpost contains all sorts of micro-listening skill enhancement ideas using textivate. Many of the activities described and demonstrated on that post are dictation-like, transcription and text-rebuild activities, where the audio helps the students to reconstruct the text. The examples on the post use an audio file, but most could also be done using text-to-speech.
Click here to read the "Scaffolding listening" post.
Here are a few dictation-like examples using text-to-speech.
e.g. Fill in the missing vowels:
e.g. No letters (3/4 of words are affected in this example):
So that's 16 of the 30 or so "Working with written texts" activities from "The Language teacher Toolkit" :o)
Here are a few more of my own that are specific to textivate. (Links rather than embedded examples, as this post is getting WAY too long...):
Jumbled words: Students put the words of each sentence into the correct order.
With or without parallel text (click text icon at top right to see with parallel text). If done with parallel text it becomes a scaffolded translation /transformation exercise.
With or without TTS (see the TTS controls at the bottom left). If done with TTS it becomes a listening / dictation exercise.
(If done with both it can be a combined translation and dictation exercise.)
Separate the words: Students click between the words to separate them. Punctuation and line breaks are automatically inserted too.
Click the text icon top right to view with parallel English text.
Use the TTS controls to provide audio support.
Speedread: Students choose from multiple choice options to rebuild the text against the clock.
Million: A text rebuild / jigsaw reading activity presented as a Millionaire game.
Next word: A word by word text rebuild activity.
By default appears with one word chunks, but you can use the selector to choose 2 or 3 word chunks too.
Use the TTS controls to provide audio support.
Football: A football game to play against textivate. Can also be played as a 2 player game. You need to set the game parameters before you start.
Football is a gap-fill activity disguised as a game. The link here is to a random gap-fill, where the one-word gaps are picked at random. There is also a version based on user-defined gaps, which can be multiple word chunks, for example.
3 in a row: A 3 in a row game to play against textivate. Can also be played as a 2 player game. You need to set the game parameters before you start.
3 in a row is a gap-fill activity disguised as a game. The link here is to a random gap-fill, where the one-word gaps are picked at random. There is also a version based on user-defined gaps, which can be multiple word chunks, for example.
Word invaders: Students click on the missing words in the correct order so as to fill the gaps in the text. Gaps are selected at random. Audio support is available via TTS.
Letter invaders: Students click on the missing letters in the correct order so as to fill the gaps in the text. Gaps are selected at random. Audio support is available via TTS.
- Snake: Students find the missing letters hidden in snake-form in the grid, and select them to add them back into the text. Letters are selected at random. Audio support is available via TTS.
See also: Exploiting texts - ideas for getting the most out of any text using textivate. This post explains how to create a text-based resource; how to add matching items; how to add a parallel text; how to make a Find the French activity; how to add text-to-speech.