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Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Chapter 7: Speaking and Technology

Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to:
Explain the use of portable recording devices to enhance speaking
Evaluate the use of audio capture tools in the classroom
Record and edit speech using audacity
Exploit the use of avatars in enhancing the speaking skills of students

7.1 Preamble
7.2 Video recording devices for
enhancing speaking
7.3 Web audio capture tools
7.4 Improving speaking using
voice chat

7.5 Using website to improve
7.6 Audio editing tool
7.7 Voice recording tool in
Creating avatars

Chapter 1: Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
Chapter 2: Developing Materials for Language Teaching
Chapter 3: Visual Learning
Chapter 4: Language Games
5 Chapter 5: Reading and Technology
Chapter 6: Writing and Technology
Chapter 7: Speaking and Technology
Chapter 8: Listening and Technology

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


The world is changing. In order to speak English, students dont need to spent thousands of
ringgit for a flight to America or the U.K. Online there is a plethora of authentic content with
support that achieves the same as immersion. You do not need to leave home to learn
English, just use the web. This chapter will focus on searching the web for tools that can help
the second language in speaking English. Students need to be put in authentic situations, get
support and corrective feedback. Oftentimes, this is not possible in large classes where
teachers are unable to give feedback to every student in the class. The web has provided an
alternative where students can on their own access the internet in the computer lab or at home
(if they have a smart phone, tablet or computer) to practice speaking English.
Speaking is the most complex of linguistic skills, since it involves thinking of what is to be
said while saying what has been thought. In order to be able to do this words must be put at a
rapid rate with a spacing about 5 10 words ahead of the utterance. In addition, patterns of
words must be chosen to fit the right situation or attitude intended. All this presupposes a
certain reservoir of structure and vocabulary. It also requires a great deal of practice, since it
pronunciation, in which the entire phonetic system comes into play,
expression, in which grammatical, lexical, and
semantic systems are used simultaneously and in a regular rhythm.
Digital Tools in Developing Speaking
It is important to be aware of the digital world students live in as we design learning
experiences to cultivate basic communication skills. The diverse variety of Web 2.0 tools
allow students to create products, such as videos, podcasts, interactive posters, cartoons, and
share them online with others to see. To build effective communication skills students must
learn to:
Communicate using digital media and environments to support personal and group
Share information efficiently and effectively using appropriate digital media and
Communicate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively to different audiences using
various media and formats.
Basic communication skills are at the core of every organization. It is crucial that we as
teachers help students build this vital set of 21st century skills.

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Let us begin by looking at the most basic of devices, namely hand-held devices for recording
speech. See pictures below.

Tape-recorder Cassette tape-recorder used in
used in the 50s & 60s the 70s and 80s.

Audio digital devices today
Everyone wants to speak good English. But to speak well, you first you have to know how
one actually sounds like, right? And that can be difficult because the voice you hear is
different from the one others hear. Just think about the first time you heard your voice
captured on a tape recorder, computer or other electronic device. You shook your head in
amazement and said to your friends, Youre joking. Thats not my voice is it?. Sure,
they replied. But you still could hardly believe the two sounds were one and the same. Have
you recorded your voice and heard how you sound?
The pictures above show the recording devices used in the 1950s until today. We have moved
from analogue recording to digital recording. Do you know the difference? Check out from
the web.
Why record ones own voice?
The point is, what we hear and what comes out of our mouths may be two different things,
and the only way to know for sure is to hear oneself say them. How do you know if you make
a mistake or not? Well, you just know. Try it and see. The other important point is that during
7.2 Voice Recording Devices for Improving Speaking
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


conversations, it becomes easier to generate questions and responses because one has already
heard oneself say them in their heads many times.
What is the Benefit of getting Students to Record themselves Speaking?
The benefits of recording ones own voice should be obvious by now. However, lets
highlight a few more benefits:
The time spent recording ones voice can be considered as more time spent practicing
the language.
Saying the words out loud rather than in ones head makes students more confident to
speak in public.
Gradually eliminate mistakes.
Build ones collection of useful vocabulary.
Understand complicated grammar.
Improve ones listening and understanding skill.
Increase confidence.
Enjoy learning English.
Audio files are more convenient to practice with because it can be done anyway
(assuming learners have a recording device).
Recording is cheap and simple. The following are some general steps:
Step 1: Get students to record what they are saying.
Step 2: Listen to the recording and identify the
Grammar tenses, plural & singular
(e.g. Malaysians tend to use s rather
freely and in the wrong context)

Step 3: Re-record by reducing the mistakes made earlier and they will realise the
They are able to speak at a faster rate.
Able to reduce the length of the pauses
More confident in speaking

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Simple and free web audio capture tools are
creating exciting opportunities for students to
develop oral proficiency and could boost the
effectiveness of language learning portfolios.
With easy-to-use voice recording available on
smart phones, learners can capture their
speaking for self-assessment.
Gone are the days when "computer assisted
language learning" (CALL) was restricted to
practicing writing, reading and listening skills. The emergence of the Web, the variety of
tools and the development of mobile and tablet applications are offering numerous ways for
students to explore their own voice by recording themselves speaking. The teacher can then
listen and provide feedback on their oral performance or get students to peer review or even
self-review their work (Russell Stannard, Guardian Weekly, 2013).
There many free web audio capture tools which allow students to easily record their voices
using a variety of devices and then share the recordings by emailing, embedding them into a
blog or uploading onto a virtual learning environment. We will discuss a few.
The following is a website called....

It allows you to do 5 minutes recording on the internet. What makes it great is that you can
download the audio file, embed it on your blog/website and send it to e-mail. It is really easy
to use and there is no need to install any software to your computer. And of course, it's free!

Here is 4 simple steps to record your voice using Vocaroo:

7.3 Web Audio Capture Tools for Improving Speaking
Step 1:
Go to Vocaroo
to create

Step 2:
Click on record
button, grant
Vocaroo access to
your microphone
and start recording
Step 3:
After you are
happy with your
recording, click
on save, if not,

Step 4:
Share your recording on
facebook, twitter or
any social sites or
embed it anywhere
online. You can also
email and download.

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Vocaroo and language teaching
Teachers and students can use Vocaroo to do audio recordings and create podcasts, which can
be very useful in order to develop students' speaking skills. So, teachers can use Vocaroo for
any activity which involves speaking. An example of speaking task which integrates Vocaroo
is as follows:
1. Teacher can ask students to choose a topic to talk about. It would be useful to
choose a topic that of students' interest so that they would have something to say
and become engaged with the activity. For example, My unforgettable moment'.
2. Teacher can start the activity by providing students with examples by telling them
stories or play recordings. This would gives students some ideas on what to say and
include in their recordings. Teacher can also provide students with a framework.
3. Students then would be given time for notes and brainstorming ideas.
4. In a group of 3 or 4, each student would take turn to tell their stories to their group
members. At this stage, teacher would monitor students and give feedback such as
on the organisation of story or the language use.
5. After that, teacher would demonstrate to students on how to use Vocaroo. Students
can do the recordings at home and share it in class blog. They can also email the
recordings to the teacher.
6. Teacher then would provide students with feedback. Students too can provide peer
feedback by commenting on each other recordings.
Other than that, Vocaroo can also be used for pronunciation practice by asking students to
read texts aloud and record it using Vocaroo. Students too can use Vocaroo to do speaking
journal and share it in their personal or class blogs. Generally, Vocaroo would help teacher to
do an assessment on students' speaking skills. Teacher also can use this tool to do recordings
as materials for listening activities.

What is Good About it?
It is fast and easy to use
Can use it without the need to install any software
The recording can be downloaded and shared online
Can re-record your voice
Can upload own recordings but not more than 50MB
It is free
Its Limitations
Can record only up to 5 minutes
Can't record video (can't see facial expression)
Need internet connection

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology



1) AudioPal

Add an audio message to your site!
Make your site instantly interactive!
Create unlimited AudioPal messages!
Choose from 25 languages & 100+ voices!
No account or software needed!
No hosting required!
Record your message by phone or mic, or Use our Text-to-Speech (TTS)
Even upload your own mp3 audio files!
Get a small, sleek flash player for your site.
Embed in any website or blog.

2) Wavosaur Free audio editor

Wavosaur is a cool free sound editor, audio editor, wav editor software for editing,
processing and recording sounds, wav and mp3 files. Wavosaur has all the features to edit
audio (cut, copy, paste, etc.) produce music loops, analyze, record, batch convert.
Wavosaur supports VST plugins, ASIO driver, multichannel wav files, real time effect
processing. The program has no installer and doesn't write in the registry. Use it as a free mp3
editor, for mastering, sound design. The Wavosaur freeware audio editor works on Windows
98, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


3) myBrainshark upload powerpoint presentations

MyBrainshark offers interesting opportunities. Students can upload PowerPoint presentations
onto MyBrainshark and then add their voice to their presentations. MyBrainShark produces a
link that can be shared over the internet or sent as an email. Students can make recordings of
up to 15 minutes, making this an excellent tool for English.. Students who need to practice
their PowerPoint presentations can upload them onto MyBrainShark, add their voice and then
share the recordings with their teachers, who can provide feedback.

The power of audio recordings is that the student can build up a whole collection of
recordings that show their development over a period of time. These can easily be shared
with relevant stakeholders like employers, university entrance boards as well as teachers and
parents. These recordings are ideal to include in an e-portfolio and are excellent for
assessment purposes, especially formative assessments.

Many learners are not able to speak English well because
they seldom practice. They feel afraid to make some errors
in speaking English so, they decide to be quiet. They are
afraid their friends will tease them whether they make errors
in talking. Also, the speaking experience has to be
interesting and enjoyable.
Pronunciation and vocabulary is a serious problem among
second language speakers. Without sufficient vocabulary,
speakers will find it difficult to communicate and without
pronunciation mastery misunderstandings between students
may arise.
Voice chat is a method of communication that takes place
over the Internet. Voice chat makes use of Voice-over
Internet Protocol, or VoIP. It allows people to make phone
calls to virtually anywhere in the world for free using a
7.4 Improving Speaking Skills Using Voice Chat
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


computer with an Internet connection. One of the most well known voice chat programs is
Skype, which can be used online or on a cell phone with Internet capability. There are
many other free voice chat programs available online, however, and they can be found by
doing a simple search. These programmes are often free, and must simply be downloaded and
installed onto a computer in order to begin using them.
When using voice chat on a computer, it is often necessary to use
a headset with an attached microphone (see picture). The headset
may have one or two earpieces and may connect wirelessly to the
computer, or may connect through a USB port. The microphone is
typically attached to the headset and may be built into one of the
earpieces, or it may extend from the headset and rest next to the
Using voice chat is very effective to improve the learners speaking
skill. But this method makes students brave to speak. This method
needs the speaker to be active because if the speakers are passive
those activities cannot be entered.
Besides that many learners who is not motivated to talk English. This problem can be solved
by giving some effective methods to them by their teacher. Here English teacher is
challenged to help students like that to give some effective methods to improve their speaking
Using voice chat in class room can be hugely motivating to learners. By using voice chat with
learners, the teacher is bringing current technology into the language learning process,
creating variety by using a new tool and also opening up the possibility of contacting and
communicating with classes in other parts of the world. There are increasing numbers of
teachers in all levels of education using chat to connect learners at a distance, from primary
student to adults.
Advantages of using voice in teaching how to improving speaking skill in classroom
With increasingly easy access to voice chat, it is probably worth expressing your learner to a
combination of both voice chat and text chat. If possible, as with any tool, there are a number
of advantages such as:
Learner may already use voice chat at home.
Bring current technology into the class room.
Use of a new tool can be motivating for learners.
Enable learners to make contact with learners in other countries
real oral practice of language
Voice chat software increasingly easy to download and use.

Headset with speakers
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


The following is an example of a website that can be used by students to learn speaking in
English. It is called.....
The aim of this website to help anyone learn to speak in English so as to enhance fluency of
spoken English.
English Speaking Basics
Basics of English Speaking for beginners using common expressions.

Regular English Lessons:
Learn what to say and how to say things in daily conversations.

English Listening Lessons
Improve your listening skills with fun questions and answers

Travel English Lessons
Specifically created for people going to an English speaking country for vacation.

Business English Lessons
Increase fluency in professional business communication in an office setting.

Idioms and Phrases
Learn idioms and phrases that are hard to translate into a different language.

Pronunciation Lessons
American English pronunciation lessons with explanations to help your speaking.

Basics of English Grammar
Build basic grammar skills pertaining to English speaking.

Interview English Lessons
Prepare for any kind of interview conducted in English and gain confidence.

Common English Vocabulary
Study and learn the most frequently used English vocabulary words

7.5 Learn to Speak in English Using a Website
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology

11 developed the "Click, Listen, and Repeat" functionality. In most of the lessons, you
read the sentence, click on the sentence to listen to the sentence, and then you can practice
speaking by repeating after the audio file provided by a native English speaker. This method
strengthens your reading, speaking, and listening all at the same time and makes learning English
easy. You will improve your English speaking using this method.

The following is website which is an Online Pronunciation Guide called
There are 9 varieties of the English language; e.g. American English, British English,
Australian and so forth. The pronunciation you hear are by native speakers, in other words,
American speaking English, an Australian speaking English and so forth. Click on British
English and listen to how the following are pronounced:


Explain how you can use this website in your classroom.

Go to the website and try out the speaking activities using the 3
steps suggested. To what extent can you use the website in your classroom?
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology



Audacity is a free and open-source downloadable
programme for your PC or laptop. It is a simple yet
powerful audio recording and editing studio. You can
use Audacity to:
Record live audio.
Convert tapes and records into digital
recordings or CDs.
Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF
sound files.
Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

The following are ways you could use Audacity with your students.
1. Make an audio/radio advertisement e.g. Primary students are using Audacity to
advertise products the school produces to support service learning for their
Advertising unit.

2. Promote language learning Record kids speaking in one of their language classes
then upload to Voki to create speaking Avatars (discussed in the next section).

3. Create Podcasts limited only by your imagination. e.g. students can use Audacity
to create podcasts of book reviews, reports and poetry readings; create music tracks
for video podcasts.

4. Record speeches to provide evidence of learning, and upload to Glogster (a
wonderful online poster tool) to share with a wider audience.

5. Promote reading development by recording kids reading books.

6. Create sound stories for images using free sound effects websites, and use creative
commons Flickr photos as your source of sound-rich images.
7.6 Audio Editing Tool
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


7. Record sound for PowerPoint slides to enhance any presentation.

8. Record compositions or class singing to share with others (e.g. parents).

9. Record soundtracks for animations. e.g. the systems of the human body.

CASE STUDY Suggestions by Frank Tuzi is an associate professor of linguistics
and technology.
For example, I use an MP3 player/recorder to record my lectures, which allows me to move
around the classroom while recording. I then copy the audio file to the computer and edit it
with Audacity so absent students can hear the lesson. To edit a recorded file, simply copy the
MP3 file to your computer and open it in Audacity. The file will appear in spectrograph form
and can be played from the interface. To delete unwanted segments, select a section and click
the delete button. Cutting and pasting audio clip segments is similarly intuitive. Audacity
users can even combine different audio clips together.
Teachers can also collect language samples and dialogs from native speakers and use them in
the creation of listening and speaking materials. For example, I often go to conferences and
collect spoken exchanges, or write scripts for native speakers to enact. I then take the audio
files and edit them in Audacity to remove unwanted pauses, fillers, and coughs. Audacity can
also modify other aspects of audio files, such as volume, tempo, bass, background noise, and
pitch. For example, to change the volume or amplitude of a portion of the clip below, I
simply selected the area to modify, selected amplify from the effects menu, and pressed OK.
It was that simple. Audacity usually has a preview button for all of the effects dialog boxes,
and it has undo/redo capabilities. Modifying the amplitude is only one of about 20 effects
included in the program.
In addition to live recordings, language teachers can use Audacity to capture streaming audio
off the Internet and local media. Teachers can record the audio of a live radio show or
prerecorded radio streams, as well as local audio, such as that of a CD or DVD while it is
Audacity also provides an excellent opportunity to offer language students with a
comparative analysis of their own spoken work with that of their native-speaking instructor.
As a language educator and IT aficionado, I am constantly searching for tools that I can
use in conjunction with language education. Lately I've been using the audio
manipulation and conversion tool Audacity to record and edit audio inputs and convert
them into a variety of formats, including the ever popular MP3, for a number of uses in
courses and course materials preparation.
- Comments by a language teacher
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


The Audacity interface includes a basic spectrograph of audio files. By loading a student's
spoken audio file and a native speaker's audio file, students can listen and view the
differences between the audio samples. With a visual and auditory representation of spoken
language, learners can better recognize the differences and teachers can create more
opportunities for students to acquire the appropriate pronunciation.
Finally, language educators can use Audacity when assigning tasks to students. Traditional
language teaching focuses on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. More recent research
suggests that task-based language teaching teaching language by giving students specific
real-life tasks -- is more effective than simply focusing on linguistic elements. I assign
students a task, such as creating a commercial for a product or service, and they use Audacity
to complete the audio components of that task. Audacity can also be used to develop sound
effects for theatre activities or add background music over audio. With these capabilities,
students can use Audacity to complete their tasks and in the process learn language.
How students can use Audacity in courses?
Language students can also use Audacity to meet their own personal needs. In addition to
completing any activities that their teachers assign them, language learners can use Audacity
to practice their pronunciation and compare it to native speakers'. Students can also use
Audacity to modify lectures they record with an MP3 player, enhancing the recording to
make it easier to understand. Several of my students use Audacity to help themselves prepare
for speeches; students record their speeches themselves or ask a native speaker to recite the
speech, then use Audacity to compare and modify the files, and save them as MP3s to
download into a player.
My students are particularly pleased with Audacity because its interface is available in
multiple languages. In the lab, students save their preferences in their personal user profile, so
that even there they can use Audacity in their own language.
As a language educator, I recommend Audacity for teachers, students, and researchers. It
provides a number of great tools for analysis, content creation, and learning.

Voki is a creative voice recording tool to create speaking avatars.
It offers multiple customisation options. Registration is needed
and you get an embeddable widget in various sizes and colours.
With Voki you also have a text to speech option.
7.7 Voice Recording Tool to Create Speaking Avatars
Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Vokis are great for practicing speaking skills with students. Creating an animated character
and giving it a voice is real fun to do and breaks down the inhibitions that students often have
when faced with recording themselves speaking in English.
CASE STUDY Anne Foreman on Using Voki for Pronunciation
Activity: Creating an online character that speaks
Activity type: Practicing speaking skills focusing on pronunciation
Age: Primary school
Timing: Around 1.5 hrs, depending on the age of the students.
Technical requirements:
a computer for each pair of students
headphones with microphones attached to the computers that you are going to use
ideally, a computer attached to a data projector for demonstrating the activity to the
class and reviewing their completed vokis
an internet connection
the Adobe Flash player plug-in installed on your computers
Create an account with Voki which is free: you will have to click on the link in the
email that the voki site will send you to activate your account. The url is:

Create a voki for yourself: this is a simple process and there are instructions you can
follow on the Voki site. However, if you prefer, you can follow the tutorial Ive

Record your vokis voice and unashamedly exaggerate what your character has to
say: this will help your students to focus on and imitate the aspects of pronunciation
you are interested in them reproducing.

I usually use this simple language model the first time I create vokis with a class:
'My name is ... (think of a name that fits the character youve created)
They call me .... because ... (think of a reason you can leave this line out with lower
level classes)
I love ... (think of something your character loves doing).
I hate ... (think of something your character hates doing).'

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Demonstrating creating a voki to your class
Log into your voki account.
Get a student to volunteer to demonstrate the steps involved in creating a voki:
encourage everyone in the class to shout out their preferences as your volunteer
chooses and customises the voki character and selects its clothing and accessories.
This gets everyone involved and helps them to remember the steps.
Now comes the process of giving the character a voice: get your volunteer student to
click on the microphone image on the voki page.

An Adobe Flash Player window will appear asking permission to use the microphone.
Get your volunteer to check Allow and close the window. If you are using the simple
language model I suggested above, before doing the recording, get your students to
agree on the characters name, the reason for his/her name and what s/he loves and
hates doing.

Your volunteer student should click on record. When s/he has finished their speech,
tell them to click on STOP.

Disconnect the headphone/mike and connect your computers speakers so that the
whole class can hear the recording. If you and your students are happy with it, the
volunteer now clicks on SAVE and will be prompted to give the audio file a title. This
step is very important and you should insist that the students remember it, because
if they dont, they will lose their recording. (If theres something you dont like with
the recording, click on CANCEL and you can repeat the process again).

Now you are ready for the final touches. Get your volunteer student to select a
Background for the character and a Player (the frame it appears in).

The last step in creating your voki is to click on PUBLISH. Again, this is very important
because it is when you save all the work done youve done up to now and without it
the voki will be lost.

If you have a class blog or wiki, there is one more optional additional step:
embedding your character into a post. In the MY VOKI section of the site (see the
tabs at the top of the web page), make sure that your latest voki is the one that is
visible on the left of the page.
Choose the destination where you want to embed your voki e.g. Blogger, WordPress
etc. and click on Get Code.

Paste the code into the HTML section of your post, click on PUBLISH and your voki
will appear on your site.

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Before your students start work on the computers, elicit from them, or prompt, if
necessary, the language theyve just used when they went through the different
steps of creating a voki and are likely to use when they are interacting together at
the computers e.g.
- Choose that one!
- That ones better.
- No, I prefer that one.
- Its my turn.
- Click on the
- Now save!
Get them to write their phrases in their notebooks and do a quick role play in pairs
using them. This is really valuable language that they need to know and have fresh in
their minds because it will be a great temptation for them to revert to their first
language in the excitement of creating their vokis.
Now your students can start work on the computers. Get them to work in pairs and
to use your login when they first open the voki page that way youll have all their
voki characters in the same place to review together at the end of the class.
Monitor their work and remind them, if necessary, both of the language you
modelled and the functional language they role-played.
When your students have finished their vokis, review them in a whole class session.
Get students to comment on each others vokis and vote for the one they like best.
Follow up
While the rest of your students are working on another task, take the opportunity to
spend time with each student individually and to listen to their voki.
Stop and start the sound to focus on any particular problems they may be having
with language, individual sounds, sentence stress or intonation. Now you have a
handy record of their speaking skills to measure their advances during the course
and for assessment purposes!

Chapter 7: Writing and Technology


Russell Stannard. Recognising the power of voice recording. Guardian Weekly. 26
February, 2013.
Frank Tuzi. Enhancing second language acquisition with Audacity. December 20,

Chanthiramathi, V. Enhancing the speaking skill of second language learners using
modern technologies. Journal of Technology for ELT. 1.2 (April 2011).