Cercles 2004

Here you will find an abstract and various exercises relating to a presentation I gave at the Cercles 2004 conference in Bratislava, September 2004.

You will need to have the Macromedia Flash Player installed in order to view the exercises. If you see a flashing sign below then you are OK. If not, then read what is written below.

To listen to the sound files as well as to do some of the exercises you will need the most recent version of the MACROMEDIA FLASH PLAYER (if you don't have it already). If you open a page when you are online the player should be downloaded automatically - a message for authorisation will then appear, press OK and it will be installed. Otherwise go to www.macromedia.com and enter the Download Flash Player section.

 

Abstract

The Insertion of Sound in Static and Interactive Web Pages Made Easy

 

Given the nature of the subject matter, the presence of sound is of great importance in Web pages for the learning of second languages. However, for a number of technical reasons, a low percentage of sites actually use this medium extensively and the way in which it is presented is often not of optimum quality. This is because many Web sites that do contain sound currently opt for the insertion of a plug-in relating to media players such as Windows Media Player, Real Player or QuickTime. The visualisation of these plug-ins varies from computer to computer, depending on the configuration of system and the type and version of the media player installed – this variation has results that range from mildly annoying to disastrous when the sound file cannot be accessed by the user.

This talk will illustrate a method that, while documented in other sectors, has not been widely applied to that of language learning. It entails the use of small Shockwave Flash buttons that upload .mp3 files from a specified directory. These buttons are quite ergonomic (25x25 px) and a large number (e.g. 20/30) can be inserted into a single page without slowing down the visualisation excessively. Furthermore, these buttons can also be used in interactive exercises that are run both by JavaScript (e.g. those created using Hot Potatoes) and, in the Flash environment, by ActionScript. The Shockwave Flash buttons are far more reliable in these contexts than media player plug-ins. The interactive exercises in question may be static, such as cloze tests, multiple choice etc. or dynamic, e.g. drag’n’drop. This last type is of particular interest as it opens up a whole new horizon of exercise creation, literally impossible up to a few years ago. In these exercises the only cues that are given are acoustic hence presenting the learner with challenging,  as well as stimulating, tasks to complete. The author has produced a series of templates for all the material mentioned, all the creator has to do is decide which sound files go with which button. Examples can be seen online in the ‘e-learning’ section at http://davidbrett.uniss.it/index

The ease with which this sort of material can be created even by those with basic computer skills will be underlined and a key feature will be practical demonstration.