TESOL Technology: VOA Learning English
A place to share ideas, resources and projects related to Computer Assisted Language Learning for ESL teachers and students.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

VOA Learning English

VOA Learning English website offers students the experience of hearing English being used in authentic purposes while being exposed to American culture and world stories. Due to the nature of exposure to American culture, there seems to be a bit of an assumption placed on having as least a little bit of background knowledge about American culture; some of the articles focus on well-know American figures. However, the sire offers a safe, fun way for students to dip their feet into American culture. In addition, the structure of the site offers a wonderful scaffolding technique by giving students the opportunity to listen to speech as they follow along with the text in written form. The text and speech approach is a wonderful way to build vocabulary using reading and authentic exposure to words in context. The features of this site make use of more scaffolding by using a slower pace of speech and clear concise words from a core vocabulary of 1,500, which can aid students in comprehension and vocabulary. On the other hand, the slower pace may cause confusion in regards to some language features such as intonation and rhythm.

In addition to offering audio broadcasts, a link called “The Classroom” has a wealth of online actives for students to use and practice their reading, listening and comprehension skills; some additional activities are arranged by topics from tenses to parts of speech and grammar. Another interesting feature is the use of selected articles, where target vocabulary words are bolded and online exercises are available that focus on these words and ask the user to watch video clips and match the words and definition. Other activities focus on providing pictures and asking comprehension questions and questions about the main idea. A wonderful exercise titled “Expand Your English” makes use of critical thinking by posing questions that ask for opinions and reasoning.  

Furthermore, "The Classroom" link offers interactive learning through the use of several wordbooks (a.k.a dictionaries): health, business, general wordbook and idiom wordbook. Each entry comes complete with the definition, pronunciation of both the word and a sentence that uses the word in context along with a picture. Take a look at this entry in the health wordbook for the word 'germ.'

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