Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hungarian Reality Check

My daughter Erin's class provided me with another reality check today. She teaches conversational English in a high school in Budapest, Hungary. Today, I put together a short presentation, and introduced portfolios to one class of her students. For about 45 minutes, we talked about why we collect "stuff" and then I showed them parts of Victoria's Kindergarten, First Grade portfolios, her 2nd grade autobiography and then her 6th grade poem. Then we talked about the elements of language learning: reading, writing, listening, speaking and "use of language" (grammar). I asked them how they would collect samples of their "evidence" of speaking. We talked very briefly about recording audio.

In the class period that followed, we had only half of the class and asked them to make a short recording that included the answers to three questions:
  • Who are you (your name)
  • What are you doing now?
  • What are your goals?
The students worked in pairs, and either helped each other record or interviewed each other. We had three iPods with microphones, but we found that many of them had MP3 players with built-in microphones! So everyone was able to make a recording in a 45 minute period. Their instructions were to send their audio file to their teacher (my daughter), and to save it for later use.

I then shared a little bit of the research about schools who are using iPods to record students' reading, with the ability to immediately listen to the recording. I understand that those elementary students are dramatically improving their reading scores. I also shared my visit to the Defense Language School in Monterey last summer, where all of the students are issued laptops and iPods with microphones, which are used extensively in language instruction.

What impressed me today was the number of students who pulled out their MP3 players (not iPods) which had the built-in ability to record audio clips. We will be developing more printed support materials to help these students to store their recordings so that they can be included in their language portfolios. Erin and one of her colleagues introduced me to the European Language Portfolio which consists of three documents: the Language Passport, the Language Biography and the Dossier ("Select materials to document and illustrate achievement" (evidence in the portfolio). The way we did it today (using MP3 players) may be a lot easier than asking students to record audio clips into their computers. Our next task is to figure out where the students will save their audio clips online. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

teacher dude said...

Also most cell phones can record audio/video and play mp3 files. I insist my students bring theirs so they can record dialogues and play them back. A language that can fit your pocket!!!