Sunday, January 16, 2005

Computer can talk-my experience of teaching businesspeople English on the net

what's the most obvious barrier that most EFL teachers may face to? Well, according to my biggest problem is that my students do not have the environment to learn English. Most EFL learners would complain that they are not having much chances to listen to and speak English. It is usually difficult for EFL teachers to find not only authentic listening material but a suitable one. For example, listening to BBC news or Discovery may help; however, for businesspeople who want to improve their very basic listening and speaking skill (for handling basic conversation with foreigners), those materials may be too difficult or not very helpful to them.

I am now teaching businesspeople English online. I ask my students to download English materials from the learning blog before class and upload their homework on it after class. We use msn to text and audio chat about a central topic, which is similar to everyday conversation. We only meet at least 4 hours every week.

For listening practice, I use text-to-speak software to create sound files with clear and natural voice and then I upload those files on the net, making available for learners to download and listen to them. Teachers, especially EFL teachers, do not need to spend money and time choosing suitable listening materials for their students.

The best text-to-speak software I have found so far is AT&T natural Voices. If teachers do not want to spend money buying the software, they simply can come here and try their Demo. Both US and UK English are available (even German and French). You can also choose voices spoken by different people to create a conversation.

This is my fist time teaching English on the net. The learning outcome is still unknown; however, it is sure that EFL learners can have more chances to get one step closer to the target language.

Friday, January 14, 2005

the 180kg love story

I just received a mail, in which a very cute photo album was attached. If you would like to see the 180kg love story, you should come here and have a look

Sometimes we just care too much about people's appearance...looking at this photo album, don't u just believe that there is always someone out there waiting for you??

Not a Linguistic Blog anymore?!

Searching for a job is easy; however, to find a job that I really like and wish to devote myself in is not as easy as I thought.   However, finally, I found one! and now I am working as a senior English editor in a English textbook and magazine company, which you can find here at

I actually tried to find a job related to CALL-Computer Assisted Language Learning; While I was searching for it, I found now many companies and schools in Taiwan are trying to integrate classroom English learning with online technology.   The term, e-learning, becomes very popular.   However, it seems like different companies are trying to develop different kinds of online learning system, and most of them are still paying more attention on the presentation of lessons to learners and ignore the more effective side of CALL (interactive and experience learning).

While surving in the EVO 2005 yahoo group, a question 'how does a blog different from a forum?' caught my eye, and I did spend some time thinkging about this question. Except for the sense of 'ownership' that learners can have during the process of learning, what benefits are worth of talking about? and more, I also though of the courseware of Moodle and blackboard where teachers can post lessons, discussion topics, and other extra materials online. Without trying to figure out different features of forums, blogs, and online courseware, teachers can definately make good use of these 'free' resources and upgrade our teaching quality.

So... the main reason, or the most reasonable reason, for companies and schools to hire professionals of IT and develop a new, hopefully a better online learning system is to create or enlarge the market.

The goal is to 'attract customers and earn money'!! I was actually hoping 'probably I can learn something' from my job if I could find something related to CALL; however, while sitting in front of the managers and listening to the description of how they want their E-learning products to be, the only feeling I had at that time is 'I will not be able to fit in this place!"

Anyway...although I didn't step on the route that I planned, I chose another one that I am also interested in. (reading and writing). I am thinking...probably this blog shouldn't be called 'linguistic blog' anymore :P cuz I am really not sure whether I will still write something about teaching and CALL in the future.



Sunday, January 02, 2005

so fragile

Saw an interesting report hereHow Did Animals Escape Tsunami?
"I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening."

it's pretty amazing that the animals can sense disaster... human beings, the smartest creature in the world, seem so fragile.