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.


Blogger EFL Geek said...

Wow, what a great post. Also with mp3 players being able to record voice or even just a microphone attached to a computer the teacher could record their own voice for students to listen to...

Hope you enjoy your classes...

2:56 AM  

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