Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm Moving the Blog

I'm doing something that I should have done long ago. This blog was originally begun for my CALL class at Indiana University, but I stopped teaching that over a year ago. I tried to just to a name change, but the URL stayed the same. Therefore, I decided that it's time to setup shop in a new space.

Title: CALL for Korea

I am going to keep adding the same types of postings to the new site, but I'm also really going to try to address Korean technologies, sites, and services to better serve those in Korea and to better take advantage of the incredible speed of the Korean Internet.

I copied over all of the old posts and will, beginning now, direct all new posts to the new account. I'll leave IU CALL up (I switched the name back) as an archive.

CALL for Korea is rather vanilla as far as design goes. I'm going to figure out what the best approach is and make some changes in the near future.

Monday, December 08, 2008

ALAK 2008, Seoul National University

Today was a busy day.  I participated in a rather long CALL Fair and gave a paper presentation.  I think that the CALL Fair went well, but the paper....not so much :)  However, I'll post some of the materials here just in case you'd like to take a look.


My CALL Fair presentation was titled, "Online social networks for specialized language learning environments."  It was mainly focused on using Ning to quickly and easily set up an online social network and demonstrating the functions built into Ning sites.  I also spent a little time (more with some than others) discussing other options.

Here is the proposal (.doc)

Here is the presentation that I put together, but didn't really use. 

I chose, instead, to take them directly to sites to see for themselves.  I put together a quick and dirty site at ALAK 2008 Test Site that you are free to play with.  I'll leave it up for a least a little while.  I also showed them my class Ning site, which is closed to the public, LiveMocha (a language learning online social network), and Teach the People (Facebook application), as well as a few other sample sites (see notes sheet for collection of sites).

Paper Presentation

I don't think my paper presentation went nearly as well.  In "Changing Learning Theories," I really bit off more than I could chew for this one.  I have an ambitious goal of doing an overview of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism as well a potential applications of Connectivism to language learning teaching and learning.  Did I mention that I had 20 minutes to do this in?  I had to rush through too much and I didn't explain the newest theory on the block, Connectivism, well enough for the majority who had never heard of it.  I should have just cut out the other learning theories (assuming that the audience had some knowledge of them) and focused on Connectivism and language learning.  Oh well, take a look at the presentation for yourself.  I put quite a bit in the notes, so be sure to check those out.

Paper (.doc)

Learning Theories
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: learningtheory theory)

Feel free to chime in with any comments, suggestions, criticisms, or just to say hi.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Friday, November 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by danielcraig

Is this new, or I'm I just getting it late. This just showed up on my Google results today. It allows me to raise the rank of sites and even delete them (from what I get back)

Monday, November 17, 2008

YouTube - The Time Machine: START HERE!

YouTube - The Time Machine: START HERE!

This is great. I've often thought about choose your own adventure types of videos and how they would be great. Someone finally did the work to do it, using YouTubes annotation feature. This just blows me away (the idea, not necessarily the video :)

Hat tip to Alec at Open Thinking & Digital Pedagogy for the find.

Just imagine doing one of these with your students. It would be great. They could all take a branch of the story. Maybe the class could determine a few endings and set a goal to reach those endings within a number of steps (depending on the scope of the project). This could be a sizable undertaking, but one that could be a LOT of fun. I have flashbacks of high school when students would do projects for variety shows and pep rallies. Some of these included pre-recorded video that students, teachers, administrators, and members of the public participated in. They were great. Take this to another level and take the adventures through multiple threads. Incredible potential here for a fun, educational activity.

Check out the start here and wait until the end to make your choice.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is a message sent using ( I'm hoping that it only ends up in my blogs and not across my social network :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

That isn't really your friend: hijacking users in Facebook and how to protect yourself

This won't come as a surprise to many of you, but Facebook has become the land of opportunity for bad folks trying to load nasty things onto your computer. I have had 3 Facebook friends send me messages that were obviously either simply spam or hijacked sites with downloaders (scripts that load bad programs onto your computer) and I've seen Wall postings on scores of other friends sites that were obviously the same. Now, I have personally received Facebook mail, chat, and Wall messages in this vein.

Some news reports on the topic: 1, 2

I like to think of myself as rather tech savvy, but I nearly click on these links too. I would never do that in my email, but Facebook is a place where we are all friends, right? And I'm not even a teenybopper with 400 friends, most of whom I hardly know; I know all of my friends in Facebook well. This is why I feel almost obligated to click on a link that they send. This is something that those bad folks are counting on and we all have to retrain ourselves.

Below is an edited and slightly expanded copy of a message that I sent one of those friends who asked how she could protect herself. The advice below is certainly not extensive, but I believe that it does cover the basics. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

What to look for:

(1) Messages with just a link and no description (which means that when you send links to other people you should include descriptions).

(2) Links to websites that are not major media/tech companies or something that you know is your friend's website. Websites like CNN, MSNBC, Youtube, Flickr, and so forth are ok. Sites like geocities, msnspaces, and other sites that host free websites are not a good sign.

(3) Messages that just sound spamish--"Whoa! You gotta check this out," "I can't believe what this chick did," and the last one I got was "Someone posted a video of you being bad." (I almost fell for that one).

(4) Bad spelling and grammar. Now, you may have bad spelling and grammar yourself, but if you don't think that your friend does, don't click on it.

How to protect yourself:

(1) Most of these direct you to a website that has a script that loads something bad on your computer. This almost always comes through your browser (likely Internet Explorer), though it could come in through a host of other programs like Acrobat, Flash, or any other software on your computer that has a vulnerability that is not patched. Therefore, make sure that all of your software is updated. Most new applications have a "check for updates" option under the "Help" menu. It is especially important to have Windows and MS Office fully updated. This is where most of the bad stuff gets in.

(2) Drop Internet Explorer. It's just not worth the trouble. Firefox is the best out there in my opinion. It's also one of the safest (though nothing is perfectly safe).

(3) Invest in a good antivirus suite and keep it up to date.

(4) Make sure your firewall is turned on. It likely is, but make sure. If you are running XP service pack 2 or higher, the default is to have the firewall on.

What to do if friends report that you are sending strange messages in Facebook (and you really aren't):

(1) Contact all of your friends and tell them not to click on any links that you send, at least for a while.

(2) Change your FB password and possibly your email password that is associated with the account (they could have used that to get access through the password reminder function).

(3) Contact FB and tell them what's going on.

(4) Check all of your computers (home, work, and other) to make sure they are updated (especially the antivirus program) and run a scan.

What if a friend sends me one of these messages?

(1) Let them know immediately. They can likely stop them by simply changing their password. A little more work might be necessary if their computer has been compromised, though.

Am I safe now?

Not really. It might be that none of this works. Websites like Facebook are notoriously easy to hack for someone with a bit of energy and an ounce of know-how. It's really a numbers game, because you are always hoping that it's someone else and not you :) In the end, you just have to be a little careful and follow some basic rules and you will be a lot less likely to be a victim.

------------- UPDATE 11/15/2008 --------------
I just happened to run across Facebook's help section that makes people aware they what you are experiencing is likely a known virus (on your machine, not theirs). See Facebook info here on the Koobface worm. They point you to a Kaspersky notice that has much more information.

The short of it is that when you follow links to a bad site, it prompts you to download the most recent Flash application, but it's really a nice little virus that attacks both Facebook and MySpace sites.

How does it know your password? It doesn't have to. You're likely logged in already, which gives it access to everything it needs. It pillages your contacts and sends out a bunch more posts to the nasty Web page to infect more people. Really, if it weren't so nasty, I'd have to say it is genius.

------------- END UPDATE --------------------

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Facebook | Teach the People | Recently Changed Communities

Facebook | Teach the People | Recently Changed Communities

WOW! This has real potential. If you can get your students into Facebook (and access it from school), this could be a real challenger to Ning and other online social networking apps focused on learners.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an LMS. This is an online social networking service that works on top of Facebook and provides functions that teachers might find useful. However, with the increased availability of widgets and the ability to embed them in Teach the People provide for an environment that could be just about anything you want it to be.

I've only set up a site, I haven't tested it yet. We'll see if the performance lives up to my first impression.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Totlol - Video for Kids. Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade School, Tweens and Parents

Totlol - Video for Kids. Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade School, Tweens and Parents

Looking for child-safe videos, this may be the place. It's tough to know just how well this will work, but if the community grows and becomes active, it could be great. The site pulls content from YouTube and the community moderates it. In addition, no questionable Google Ads along the side advertising "Go Get Your Date On."

The only problem that I see so far is that they stripped the ability to embed. Ning was able to do it, so I think that it's doable. They will see adoption lag (maybe deadly lag) unless they do this. It's all about sharing these days. Mommy and Daddy blogs want to sharing this content. They don't want to send people off their pages.

Here's a good example of videos on the site

At this point, there is no advertising. This is good, because who likes ads. It's bad because without ads they'll never be able to pay the bills and this will float away. I just hope they don't ruin everything and throw up Google Ads.

15 Hot New Technologies That Will Change Everything

15 Hot New Technologies That Will Change Everything

I love it when others do the work for me. Here are some of the technologies that PC World thinks will change "everything." Not sure if I agree that these will change everything, but they are evolutionary steps that are not too far off: smaller, faster, and less restrictive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Text to Speech Movies for EFL ESL

Learning technology teacher development blog: Text to Speech Movies for EFL ESL

Another Nik Peachy winner. This guy does the legwork so I don't have to :)

Here he reviews a text to speech movie service called Xtranormal. The result is really quite cool. What is the use of this? I would like to use it for students who don't feel comfortable doing the parts themselves. I would also love to do it to act out dialogues from class (either ones from the book or student-generated).

Take a look at the service and Nik's review.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

La rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain - Google Maps

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

Google Street View on La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain. I have fond memories of my time in Spain a little over 10 years ago. Of course, things change. I hardly recognize most of these places now.

This post, however, is not just a nostalgic look into my past. I want to focus attention on the use of Street View for virtual touring. You now have the ability, not only to look at a picture, but rather to get the overall lay of the land before visiting a place. If you take a look at my link, you're able to see business names and other landmarks. Heck, you could plan a sightseeing trip and where to go for lunch along the way with this tool.

This tool situates users in the context more so than anything else we have available to us. You can see the style of clothes people wear (not faces in the EU), cars they are driving, and, of course, the architecture. You can visit famous places when discussing issues in history or current events, or you can visit the places less traveled to better understand how common people live or particularly sub-groups live (i.e., Harlem, Beverly Hills, or rural areas).

I haven't seen anything published on how people are using this, but I expect that you will in the near future.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School

How cool is this? Not just this book, but the system supplying it. The National Academies Press ( provides thousands of books like this for free online and sells PDFs. They provide this widget to embed the books in a website as well (not too cool, but something to embed). So, if people don't mind reading on their computer screen, this isn't a bad option.

Read this FREE online!
Full Book | Podcast

Friday, October 17, 2008

Congress opts for educating students over blocking Web sites and social networks

Congress opts for educating students over blocking Web sites and social networks

Saying that this is a triumph of common sense and local control goes a little too far. It would be common sense NOT to have a bill that addresses this. However, I guess when seen in contrast to many bone-headed bills considered and passed, this one isn't too bad.

Should we really have to legislate teaching students how to best use computers and the networks that connect them? This seems quite obvious to me. Common sense would say that this should be part of every schools role as socializer of youth.

On the other hand, people often point to telephones and say, "do we teach students how to use telephones in responsible ways"? The answer is not really, but until recently students' telephones didn't come into the school. Now, we do teach them (in some ways) about the proper use of telephones. At the very minimum, we teach them that it is not ok to use telephones in class or when it interrupts the educational experience for anyone.

I hate to give teachers even more responsibilities, but this would be easy to insert into any and all computer-based activities that teachers utilize. Just mentioning things in passing like, don't give your contact information to strangers, don't leave your online social networking account open to the public (friends only), don't put anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable with your mother seeing, electronic data is easy to copy and distribute and anything bad you do will likely get back to a person you don't want to see it, and so forth.

If the schools want to take it a step further, have programs dedicated to this. Search for student pages or fish for friend invites and shock them that you so easily entered their space. I don't agree with showing the whole school their embarrassing details, but drop a comment on their page or just mention that you got access in a meeting. This will wake them up. If it doesn't, ask them if it would be ok to give their parents a link...that will probably seal the deal.

We are still in the trial and error stage here. Things change too fast to come up with any solid advice on how to educate students in this area. However, we can't just leave it to the streets. We will end up with a generation of digitally pregnant and drug addicted (metaphorically) citizens.

Brains: An End to Paralysis with Artificial Brain-to-Muscle Connectors

Brains: An End to Paralysis with Artificial Brain-to-Muscle Connectors

This is related to my previous posting in some ways. With this kind of science being done (actually applied) right now, how long will it be before we can virtual sensory applications?

I used to think that we would have to develop a body suit to get sensory (mostly tactile) feedback virtually, but this type of research makes me believe that we are getting closer to the ability to do this with a simple headset. Maybe this won't be done well in my lifetime, but I'm sure that my son will have this at his disposal sometime in his life.

How is it related to my previous post? Again, just as you can be in a place without actually being there, with this technology, you can feel the place without actually being there. A sort of virtual immersion. Brave New World.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

EffectiveUI offers 360-degree video apps

EffectiveUI offers 360-degree video apps

This review of EffectiveUI got me re-thinking about the future of CALL. Virtual reality worlds (MUVEs), such as SecondLife, has so much potential, but they have had so much potential for many, many years in one form or another. They have never broken through into truly useful tools for your average classroom teacher to utilize.

One problem is still that development is so difficult. I know that many might argue that developing in SL is relatively easy and they anyone can learn, but that is exactly the problem. People need to be able to do, not learn. I consider myself rather tech capable in many areas, but all of my attempts at development in SL have been complete failures.

There are many great projects in SL, but these don't even come close to offering good coverage for classrooms. They can be great activities, but that seems like a lot of effort (both on the class and developer sides) for isolated activities. I have seen some great lessonplans for use in SL, but they all seem to be reaching a bit.

What a computer program can piece together videos and pictures of places, procedures, and so forth and create the environment for you? That is essentially what EffectiveIU, Google Street View, and others are doing right now. In addition, these can then be augmented by creating hotspots, overlays, avatars, and other real/virtual enhancements. Take this a step further and it can be done realtime (as in virtual, realtime participation in meetings/classes) by powerful servers in the cloud. Client-side requirements are about the same as streaming video, which, with 3G and upcoming 4G solutions here and on the horizon, can be done on pocket-side mobile units (previously known as cellphones :)

In this view, development is as easy as taking a video (with your mobile phone or higher quality unit) or even with UCC videos and pictures available on the Web (Creative Commons of course) for basic design. Advanced design will still probably be out of reach of teachers, but they could do an amazing amount of work with the basics.

The beauty of this is that there is an amazing amount of both direct and indirect crowdsourcing. Every tourist, hotelier, businessperson, and advertiser will contribute to these spaces. Basic designs will get more complex/detailed as more images are added to the environment and as more people develop for the space. That which used to require hours and hours of animation work can largely be done quickly and by amatures with cheap, readily available video cameras.

I would have thought this science fiction just a couple years ago, but now I see it beginning to happen. Faster computers, faster data transfer, and faster software development make it likely that we will see many more movements in this area. Before long, I'll be virtually ringing your doorbell and coming in for a coffee in Chicago, while actually commuting to work in Seoul.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Almost human: Interview with a chatbot

Almost human: Interview with a chatbot

There has been a little press with the recent competition for chat bots. About 30% of the people chatting with the winner couldn't tell whether it was a computer or human.

Please see the sample conversation in the article, but I'd encourage you to pay special attention to the comments. The commenters feel the same way I do. I can't believe that anyone was fooled by this test. We are safe from true AI for a long time to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is college worth it?

Is college worth it? --

This is a great article in that it brings home something that many educators have been saying for years, "Why go to college"?

This isn't to say, at the article also states, that there aren't great reasons to go to college, including broadening horizons, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and a little something called education. However, the return on investment isn't what it once was. They often cite salaries of people who go into business-related fields, but not those in social services. Those in business are easily making $50,000+ relatively soon after graduate. They will pay off their debts. Those other professions, though, make much less and will likely need to get advanced degrees to bridge the gap even slightly.

We need students to begin making these calculations on their own. Return on investment isn't just about money, but to be in debt for 20 years is a terrible existence. This is beginning to drive lower-cost alternatives and will change the educational landscape over the next decade (yes, that soon).

As I near the end of my formal education (I swear I'm done after this phd), I have to say that it's been pretty good to me. I'm comfortable, I'm saving a little money, and I have a generally rosy outlook on life. In order to get this, though, I've had to go through years of graduate studies that was bartered with office and teaching work at the universities I attended.

I wish someone had sat me down when I was 17 and laid this out for me. I can't say that I would have done anything differently (I just wanted to party after high school and college was the best place to do it), but it might have saved me (more so my parents) a little money by making different decisions. By the time my own son is preparing for post K-12 life, I don't even think this will be an issue. It will be part of a well-worn system by then. At least I hope so. Having 2 of "the talks" is just too much.

Name change - a semi-sad day

It's a sad day here at the IU CALL blog, because it's no longer the IU CALL blog. I let this go for too long as the IU CALL blog. I haven't taught at IU for over a year, so it's time for a change.

I think that, for now, the name CALL from Korea is more descriptive of what I'm doing. It maybe a bit of a misnomer since I don't discuss Korean tech too much, but I hope that will also change in the near future.

I'm going to keep the URL because it's both too difficult to change (and keep all my previous postings) and then anyone who is following this blog will be lost.

Hope you enjoy the new name, but the same old postings.

OpenOffice 3 Download

I don't think that this is too extreme a statement, you are doing students a disservice by NOT at least discussing the use of OpenOffice. Don't let them grow up thinking that Microsoft is the only office software.

With that said, I still primarily use Office, but I am weaning myself off slowly. When I can no longer get it from IU for free (yes, a great student benefit), MS Office is OUT. I might even get rid of Windows, as my workhorse at least.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cyprus Lip Dub - Don't Stop Believing on Vimeo

Cyprus Lip Dub - Don't Stop Believing on Vimeo

Not only a wonderful song, but an interesting project with students. I'm not sure what agreements vimeo has, but music videos on YouTube are ok (for many songs). Agreements have been made that allow even UCC music videos to remain up.

Show this to your students and have them make one of their own. There are plenty of possibilities for collaboration and cooperation. For instance, students need to create a storyboard, assign roles, learn the words to the songs, direct/take direction, edit the final project, present the final project, and so forth.

Cyprus Lip Dub - Don't Stop Believing from Brittany Bohnet on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

JALT 2008

The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) contacted me about advertising their conference at the end of the month (OCT 31). I was happy to do so. It's a great organization and I just wish I could go myself. Please see the picture below for more information or go to their website at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Review of EuroTalk's Talk Now for KAMALL Newsletter September 2008

Review of EuroTalk's Talk Now for KAMALL Newsletter September 2008

This is the software review that I did for the last KAMALL newsletter. I have to admit that I'm not thrilled with it, but it is a good review of the functionality of the software.

Next time I'm going to add many more screen shots. I've been given a page limit in the past, but that just doesn't make sense, does it?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Storytelling 101

Storytelling 101

I actually published this by accident the first time. I meant to push it to my presentations blog ( I decided to leave it here, though. It speaks not just to those giving presentations, but also those of us who stand in front of classes every day. Teaching is more than pushing information to students. It is participating with them in the quest for knowledge and creating good stories together.

Nice presentation on making good presentations. Emphasizes the need for a good story behind the presentation.

Most academics seem to think that they just need to push the information out to the audience and that these types of presentations are for business or just "non-scientists". This is certainly far from the truth. You want people to remember your presentation and, in fact, remember you (conferences are more about networking than exchanging ideas). I'm sure that you remember good speakers much better than poor ones...which do you want to be?

Storytelling 101
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: sherlock rockstar)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Downes on Connectivism - UStream Video

Downes on Connectivism - UStream video

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A National Center for Edtech Research

A National Center for Edtech Research

My greatest hopes for this new Center include providing some focus to a field that seems not to have had much and encouraging researchers to continue lines of research with both large and small studies.

The field hasn't had a lot of focus in resent years. I don't include Web 2.0 as a focus :) There have been some exploratory areas of research that have seen lots of work, including the broad topics of virtual worlds, online interactions, and materials design; however, even within these areas of study, they seems to be little coherence between studies and few substantial studies.

This leads to my next point, which is that a Center for Edtech research should encourage the establishment of lines of research that focus on building incrementally on and replicating previous research. You may say, "researchers already do this, silly!" I would have to respond that they tend not to replicate previous research at all and when it comes to building incrementally on previous research, they most often vary so much from the previous research that they research hardly counts as incremental.

I'm a little vague here, but I think that these two roles will result in our work having more influence in education and throughout the sciences.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Taking the Summer Off

I'm going to be taking this summer off from Web 2.0 stuff, including this blog.

I've come to the point were my interest in Web 2.0 technologies is becoming detrimental to other aspects of my life, particularly that part about finishing my degree. Therefore, I'm going to take the summer off to focus on making the most of my indoor time and maximize my outdoor time.

Have a wonderful summer. I'll see you again some time in late August or early September.


Monday, May 26, 2008



This is very cool and simple to use. It enables you to do a video chat with 2 other people. No muss no fuss. No sign ups or other hassles. Flash interface with your mic and webcam.

I don't see many options at this point. There is a link that you can share with friends (anyone you want to speak with) at the bottom of the screen. I'm not sure how long this is good for. Maybe you could add it to your blog or other page and use it as a regular meeting place.

They also have a text chat box, which is wonderful for sharing that text information that audio is terrible for. Things like URLs are easier to cut and paste that having to listen while someone spells it out for you.

Very cool application. I can't wait to see it grow up.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Review of LiveMocha in the KAMALL Newsletter 2008

Review of LiveMocha in the KAMALL Newsletter 2008

The link above is for a review I did of LiveMocha. The space requirements limited what I had to say quite a bit, but I said what I needed to say.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I was asked to write such a short one. It's a Web page! I'll have to talk to them about that. Not to mention, there are no links in the final version. Glad I included full URLs for each.



Monday, May 12, 2008

Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower - New York Times

Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower - New York Times

I'm not going to make educational decisions based on NYT articles, but this one is certainly interesting. They report on research carried out to test the hypothesis that training working memory will increase "fluid intelligence".

They trained participants using a game, concentration, which in turn seemed to result in higher fluid intelligence scores. The interesting thing, to me, is that in this modified version of the game, they were exposed to both auditory and visual stimulation. Seems a little like most video games out there, doesn't it? So, I wonder if they'd have the same results with Grand Theft Auto? :)

In the end, they got people working out puzzles and they did better on intelligence tests that essential measure puzzle-solving ability. The brain is like a machine that does better when warmed up. Seems logical to me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

English Language Learning Software Hunt

The other day a friend asked me if she could borrow some of my CD-ROMs (or DVD-ROMs) for English language learning OR for some suggestions. I was a little embarrassed that not only didn't I have many (aside from a couple old ones), but I also couldn't think of any besides Rosetta Stone and TELL, which are a little more than I can afford.

My interests have included CALL-related topics for many years, but it's been a long time since I paid attention to instructional software. I've focused for so long on the use of ICT that I am clueless on the state of "traditional" disk-based software.

I have NEVER seen a software that impressed me. They have all been warmed-over grammatical syllabi with little other than multiple choice, fill in the blank drills to fill space between cute animations and lame texts (can you tell I'm skeptical?).

I'm not against drilling. I think that there is a place for it and a software might be the right place. However, these also don't seem to have much relevance to the average classroom. That is unacceptable.

Can anyone prove me wrong? What have you used that you loved? If you do make any recommendations, please describe why it is good.

Don't bother sending on things that can be modified for language learning. There are countless materials to do that with. I would like to know a good, dedicated software (CD, DVD, Downloadable, or even online) that learners can use on their own. If there is interaction with other students or teachers, that's great, but students still have to be able to use it on their own.



Updates: I'll update here with suggestions that I receive.

  • EuroTalk
  • Qedoc - Quiz-maker and cache of quizzes.
  • EduFire - Flashcards and collection of videos in various languages (mostly YouTube).


We often talk about supporting students in their learning process. This support is primarily considered scaffolding. This is important for all teachers to understand, particularly language teachers in immersion contexts.

Below is a little something that I wrote recently on scaffolding to justify including it in a workshop for content-area teachers who are learning to work with English language learners.


Sheltered instruction is often thought of as sheltering ELLs from their native speaking counterparts (Freeman & Freeman, 1988); however, this view has evolved significantly over the years in include language and content support in a variety of contexts (Grabe & Stoller, 1997). Sheltered instruction is what should take place in CBI contexts where the focus is on content rather than language. Sheltered instruction is the supporting of ELL’s content-area learning (Bunch, Abram, Lotan, & Valdés, 2001; Short, 1991). This can be done in many ways, as described above in the CBI continuum. However, the general focus is on scaffolding instruction to the extent that learners can participate and learn in content-area classes.

Sheltered instruction provides support for ELLs through the use of scaffolding (Antón, 1999; Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976), which aims to make input comprehensible (Krashen, 1982). This is similar to Vygotsky’s (1978) concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD), “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" (p. 86). Relating this back to Krashen’s (1982) i+1 concept (comprehensible input), learners are provided with input just a little above their “actual developmental level” (Vygotsky’s terminology) in order for them to advance to their “potential developmental level.”

Scaffolding can take on many forms. Brush and Saye (2002) make the distinction between “hard” and “soft” scaffolding. Hard scaffolding is the purposeful, planned use of materials that are designed to support learners. These materials can range from texts (e.g., books, notes, etc.) to audio/video (e.g., lecture recordings, podcasts with a variety of content, etc.) to graphical/visual (e.g., animation, illustrations, models, etc.). Soft scaffolding is the dynamic feedback provided to learners by instructors or peers (de Guerrero & Villamil, 2000; Ewald, 2005; Salomon & Perkins, 1998) that addresses perceived gaps in understanding or performance.

Additionally, both soft and hard scaffolding can take on different general forms when working with ELLs, including: cognitive/conceptual (Ausubel, 1968 cited in; O'Neill, 1988; Charles M. Reigeluth, 1999), linguistic (Lam & Wong, 2000; Mohan & Beckett, 2003; Ulanoff & Pucci, 1999), cultural (Risko & Walker-Dalhouse, 2007), and affective (Rosiek, 2003). Cognitive/conceptual scaffolding is the provision of support focusing on cognitive strategies and metacognitive skills. Linguistic scaffolding is the provision of language-related support such as structural, lexical, and pragmatic. Cultural scaffolding supports understandings of and connections between diverse cultural backgrounds, both for learners and guides (teachers other students) towards the “other” culture(s). Affective scaffolding supports the emotional/psychological needs of the learners (e.g., anxiety, self-efficacy, and self-esteem).