Collaborative L2 listening
The best innovations are the ones which you stumble across, serendipitously. Even better are the ones which Buddhists call "turning poison into medicine". My presentation is the story of how our VOICEbook interactive listening application transformed the way students approach listening in a foreign language. After that I will get you to use the Player yourselves in a foreign language of your choice, to see if you do the same thing as my students did...
The VOICEbook approach is based on a core of dictation supplemented by a whole series of features which come into play when the transcription task becomes more difficult, such as slowing down delivery, teacher-based comments, a dictionary/glossary and "cheating".
I had always used the VOICEbook Player as a tool for individual learning, and had noticed that the ideal session length was around half an hour, after which tiredness would start to creep in.
A local school asked me to do some VOICEbook lessons to help with their students' listening skills. They assured me that they had 18 students and 18 working computers. When I got there, I found they had correctly estimated the number of students, but that their definition of "working computers" was rather less accurate: only 9 PCs actually functioned.
From 1 to n
Muttering the kind of word I tend not to teach my non-adult students, I decided that all I could do for today was to put two students on each computer. Ten minutes later came the revelation: instead of me having to help students out myself when they came across problems, I found that the students started trying to resolve problems by discussing language "Do you remember that rule we did in class last year? Let's try that!" etc.
I had always longed for my students to talk about language amongst themselves, but I had always failed miserably. Now that I had an organisational/technical problem, the students responded outstandingly - collaborating together naturally on a listening task using an interactive Player.
It is now quite common for me to have to stop students after two hours of collaborative learning.