Monday, November 23, 2009

Hello, ELLLO

English Listening Lesson Library, or, is an extraordinary website for teachers and learners who want a chance to hear natural but easy-to-understand conversation. Four tabs across the top take you to four different areas.
The Views tab has literally hundreds of stories of real people sharing personal experiences on hundreds of topics. Each story has a transcript you can follow along with. The home page holds the most recent stories, but you can search for other topics you don't see at first. I searched for some very ordinary terms, e.g. childcare, safety, movie, dating. Each of those searches turned up more stories than I had time to listen to.
Speakers take care to talk at a leisurely pace and use clear diction. When a speaker uses an idiomatic expression a link pops up in the transcript. Click on that and an audio player pops up to give a concise definition. Here is a screen-grab of that audio player:

It's easy to pause the story for a quick explanation of the new vocabulary term.

Mixer, according to the site, is " a listening activity that features six speakers. Each speaker answers the same question. Students can listen to the answers for fun or test their listening comprehension by answering the questions."

Game lets you test your listening comprehension by clicking on one of four pictures. I, a native speaker, made a few mistakes on that one. The fact that some of the people have Australian, French or other foreign accents adds a measure of difficulty to the challenge.

STeP resembles a Voice of America program in Special English. It features someone talking with careful English teacher diction about a topic. Listeners can participate in a timed comprehension quiz.

News features a cartoon newsreader who reads imaginary news stories. Her lips move and illustrations change behind her while she reads each piece. Interactive quizzes test what the listener has retained.

In most cases you can download the stories to your computer or iPod as MP3 files . I downloaded one three-minute file in less than half a minute. Tutors or teachers should be able to download these audio files and give them to their students on CDs as homework, or simply as something to listen to while they drive to work or do the dishes. I often assert that homework is anything that gets your learner exposure to English between lessons. For those who don't have ready access to a computer with broadband, the public libraries are a great option. Elllo is here, its fun, it's rich with stories. I hope you get a chance to look at it.

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