Friday, January 27, 2017

Teaching language via story telling.

Story telling seems to be hard wired into us and tapping that deeply rooted need is a great way to get students to be more creative and expressive in the foreign language they wish to learn. Nowadays, with the advent of ever cheaper hardware and a ready supply of free-to-use applications, the cost of using such equipment in lessons has dropped significantly.

Here is a teaching idea that utilises such opportunities.  A number of different aspects of language can be practiced with this exercise and it encourages active production in written form while creating dialogues and via the recording section it encourages students to listen to themselves and change their performances in response.

This is a long term project that will need multiple lessons and much will be best assigned for homework, also it requires the teacher to be comfortable with the software used and so is not for the technologically faint hearted. However, to simplify the procedure the video segment could be omitted and student could record themselves on their smart phones.

The level of the lesson depends very much on the source material chosen but could range from near beginner to advanced.

You'll need:

-Access to PC with a microphone and speakers and ideally the internet (useful but not absolutely
  necessary).
-Comics in digital form or scanned pages from regular comics
-Windows Movie Maker
-An image processing app/program such as Windows Paint./Photoshop or GIMP.
-Audacity a free audio editor and recorder program (Optional).

Many comics in digital form come in .CBR/CBZ and other similar formats which means you'll need a special program to read them on a PC e.g. Comic Book Reader. However, this format cannot be read by image processing programs, To make them compatible you'll have to decompress or "unzip" them. which you can easily do by right clicking with your mouse or touch pad the file you need and decompressing it.The result will be that every page will become a jpg image file which you can then use with the other programs mentioned here.
.

Lesson Plan

There are three possible options for this stage of the lesson, you can use a comic strip with no dialogue e.g.  Tiny Titan's Beast Boy or you could use a strip with dialogue and either let students read existing dialogue or blank out the speech bubbles and let students replace it with their own - see Star Wars Rebels example.

Once again the choice of comic strip also will reflect what kind of language structure,  and/or vocabulary is being practiced/taught. Also whether the project will be best done by individual students or in groups is on best decided by the teacher. The exercise is very open ended and can be adapted for any number of language teaching items. This plan is a general introduction to the concepts rather than a step-by-step guide. Also the burden of much of the preparation will have to be taken up by the teacher unless you want to spend hours explaining several different programs to your students.


You will need to cut up the comic strip into sets of one, two or three using your image processing program and then add these images to the the Windows Movie Maker program (Here is a video tutorial on how to use WWM). To add your dialogue to the video you can use the existing recorder function that WMM has or record them via Audacity, an excellent free to use studio recording program, in which case you'll need to add the audio files separately to your WMM project.

You'll then need to adjust the length of time the images stay on screen in order to fit images and dialogue (the video tutorial mentioned above explains how to do this)..

BE WARNED: Recording dialogue correctly is a time consuming process and your students will probably need multiple takes before you or they are happy with the final result. However, this is the heart of the exercise as it requires students to listen to themselves closely and correct any mistakes made in pronunciation. The time spent is well worth the results.

The downside is that older student often recoil from the sound of their own voice, the upside is that it makes them aware of long term issues and allows them to improve enormously.



Instead of using comics, you could also use children's books or pages from a school text book.

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