Educational content ideas/language learning


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There are Linux User Groups in many countries, in addition to a number of governtments, working on full Linux distributions in many languages. It would not be difficult to do this for any language where there are any reasonable number of computer students. link to guides --Mokurai 05:17, 16 October 2006 (EDT)

The way to become fluent in a language is to speak it frequently. For people who can't go and live where the language is spoken, I suggest voice chat with Webcams on computer. We should get classes in the US teamed up with classes in Africa, or any other combination, and let them practice with each other. At the elementary school level, children can become fluent, without accent, in a few months.--Mokurai 05:17, 16 October 2006 (EDT)


Computer assisted language learning Over One-Hundred books on-line; Automated Reading; claims grammar polish from M.I.T? Livemocha is a free online language-learning website.

commercial linux software

From the 'sharing your content with olpc' page

I am the autor of a specialized "manual" for the 1. year of studies of French as Second Foreign language. It has only 7.5 Mb, is written in HTML, with some 60 photos. I would like to join that to the OLPC. The manual is divided in 4 modules, each modules is made of 4 lessons, each lesson divided in 6 parts: lecture, foreign expressions, questions, grammar, exercices and documents. There should be 4 manuals (one for each year) - I am now working on the second one. The modules are for this first book: 1/ L'aérotrain, 2/ Les scanners, 3/ La photographie numérique, 4/ L'électricité (with a last part named: "Paris, Ville Lumiere")

Sincerily yours:

Horváth-Militicsi Attila, prof. agrégé
Narodnog fronta 77/III
21000 NOVI SAD
Email: 6hunyadi@eunet.yu

Software for learning vocabulary and scheduling activities

  • Mnemosyne : That's an open-source vocabulary program.
  • The Software for scheduling activities section mentions a program called Supermemo (Super Memorization), which is normally used for learning and revising vocabulary, grammar, key-facts, etc. It uses Question and Answers and a self-assessment and revision-scheduling system to optimize learning/revision-intervals and stop knowledge fading from memory. Supermemo or a similar program could be ported to the OLPC laptop for learning first/second-language vocabulary and also to schedule/re-schedule Constructionist activities.

Language-learning games

A project called MILLEE (Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies) teaches English as a Second Language using Games on Mobile Phone Handsets. This provides an enjoyable way of learning a second language in an out-of-school environment and addresses the needs of children in rural areas with non-regular attendance in schools, who have to work in the fields and do chores.

Co-operating with this project would provide benefits to both OLPC and MILLEE :-

  • OLPC laptops could use some of the games they have developed or develop some new ones based on theirs.
  • OLPC could learn from their experience of teaching languages.
  • OLPC laptops could be used to obtain games from the internet or CD/DVD-ROM and distribute them to Mobile Phone Handsets via a cable, allowing children and adults without an OLPC laptop to use old handsets for language learning without the expense of a subscription to a mobile-phone service. This would allow the OLPC project to benefit more people.

FOSS software for LL: (really fun and simple) -- many activities, developed primary for KDE, but can be used independantly) (interesting crossword like ideas, but seems to occupy all CPU -- needs optimization) (crossword analyzer and solver) more crossword generators (some basic russian language sounds/prnounciation flashcard )

--Ricardo 03:14, 13 August 2007 (EDT)

Acquisition of language

We will need

  • Reading, spelling, writing materials
  • Reading comprehension, from alphabets to serious text analysis
  • Sounds and images -- pronunciations, songs with lyrics, fonts
  • Literature and poetry

Second language acquisition in general

Have a look at Wikipedia's substantial article on the subject.

They cite interesting facts about the student's external influence on language teaching:

  • how does his community view learning a second language ?
  • has he been exposed to the language early ?
  • has he got access to conversation in the learned language ?
  • how is his teacher ?

And his own influence:

  • age, gender
  • is he anxious or shy when learning ?
  • does he view the learned language and its culture in a good light ?
  • is he motivated ?

They talk about language learning aptitude, ie that some students are 'naturally' better language learners than others. They talk about strategies for language learning (more on this later). All of these factors could be tested and reported to the teacher or compensated for by the software.

Choice of second language

I would prefer to see people fluent in 2 of the main languages (lets say, UN "official languages"). These are English, Spanish, French, Russian and Chinese.

My grandfather was fluent in Russian, Polish, Hebrew, Yiddish, and English. I have met Swiss and Indians who think nothing of speaking three or four local languages plus English. I am told that this is the attitude in much of Africa, as well. --Mokurai 05:17, 16 October 2006 (EDT)

The main goal must be to enable the children to read and write the language(s) spoken in their own country. The boot prompt of the laptop should be in the language the children speak. For many children the language they use at school isn't the same as they speak at home. We should help them to be proud to have their own language.

Since this is an international project, perhaps we could make it easy to learn Esperanto, which is supposed to be an international language and is very easy to learn. That would make it possible for all of these children to talk to one another through IM or some other medium.

Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton?
Esperanto is very easy for Europeans to learn, since the vocabulary is almost all taken from European languages. It has a somewhat simplified grammar. However, if linguists wanted to design a language for global ease of learning, they could do a much better job now.
The problem with any artifical international language is that people have to learn it in addition to, rather than instead of, the key international language of their field (science, business, diplomacy--currently English for all). The reason is that the literature isn't in Esperanto, and you aren't going to get the publishers to pay for the translations.
I would like to point one thing out about that: you are right that more languages learned means more effort. However, I'm pretty sure several studies have been done, for example with American university students learning French, where half of the students learned Esperanto for one semester, then learned the goal foreign language for one year, and ended up with more proficiency than those who simply took the foreign language two full years. This is not irrational because Esperanto teaches the concepts of foreign language-learning very easily and in a straightforward manner, with no exceptions and phonetic spelling, acting as a "stepping stone" to other languages, like English. Not to mention Esperanto's value in and of itself; feel free to look at the articles Talk:Esperanto and OEPC Esperanto.

Strategies for Language learning

In order to survey the strategies used to make language learning more efficient, a typology of language learning strategies has been created (Rebecca Oxford, 1990). This typology regroups every strategy in one of 6 categories:

  • Cognitive
    • rational analysis and comprehension of the language
    • also, being alert and thinking while learning gives far greater retention than rote learning
  • Meta-cognitive, analysis of how to best study the language
    • planning and setting one's own goals
    • choosing materials appropriate for one's own learning style
  • Memory: using techniques to better remember vocabulary and grammar, for example:
    • categorization (learn in blocks of meaning, level of speech, etc...)
    • keyword mnemonics (create an image in your language that links to the word in target language example
    • visualization
    • rhyme/rhythm
    • flashcards, or more generally spaced repetition - See Drill and test software
    • TPR, or memorization by acting out
  • Compensation, ie compensating for the lack of competence in the language. This gives more opportunities to communicate and learn, and as such is considered a strategy
    • talking with one's hands
    • describing words with long phrases
    • guessing words from context
  • Affective
    • managing one's anxiety
    • rewarding and encouraging oneself
  • Social
    • asking questions
    • getting involved with the people speaking the language, asking them to correct you
    • getting to know the culture of the language
    • practicing with other students

Please have a look at Dr. Oxford's website.

What is needed

  • probably some 'scaffolding' that will take the various contributions, content, exercises, etc ... and bring them together, by making everything a plugin of a main CALL activity.
  • Content, with some way of indicating its level (for beginners, for advanced ...) and concepts used (grammar and vocabulary).
    • In the learners' language
      • Alphabet lessons (for Cyrillic, Arabic, ideograms, kana and other non roman alphabets)
      • Grammar lessons
    • In the acquired language
      • Dialogs
      • Comic strips
      • Video
      • Literature and poetry
      • Newspaper articles (and other 'authentic' materials)
      • Images
      • Sounds
  • Exercises
    • Vocabulary exercises
      • online vocabulary flashcard system (perhaps for school servers) on top of OmegaWiki. See development details at 1
      • try to integrate the system above to a native XO Application
    • Grammar exercises

CALL in the literature

Computer assisted language learning has received some attention in scientific literature. There is also a Wikipedia article and a wikibook.

The wikipedia article also points to the ICT for Language Teaching site, which has very interesting online modules to learn about CALL, and a list of articles.

Project ideas

Show and tell

A child brings an object from home, stands up at the front of the class and talks about it, to practice first or second language skills and build confidence. See Show and tell.

--Ricardo 05:54, 13 August 2007 (EDT)

Banging on the keyboard

Young child bangs on keyboard "knsooha[hivbj-a", and the XO

  • reads the result aloud (eg, "kaa nn soo ha hi vv ba ja aa"). See Speech synthesis.
  • highlights any letter sequences which are simple words (eg, "cat"). Shows an associated picture to provide reinforcement. For more advanced use, perhaps only shows pictures for sequences which are words (ie, bracketed by whitespace), so the story would be "a subword is highlighted, providing notification and some reinforcement, and if spaces are then added around it, even more reward".

MitchellNCharity 13:35, 28 August 2007 (EDT)

Iconic generation of text

The XO rewards writing. But this can be frustrating for children who which can't write yet. Perhaps the barrier to entry for writing text can be reduced, making it less frustrating, and more rapidly learned.

One idea might be to generate text from an iconic dictionary. So the text "I go home" might be created by selecting icons in pulldowns or icon galleries of people, actions, places, etc. The icons show a picture, and the associated word. And when the mouse is over the icon, the associated word is spoken. I'm not sure how to deal with endings, variants, etc. A grammar checker/fixer might take a pass at the resulting text. A language aware editor could allow choosing or cycling through variations. If the result is spoken, one might then easily "tune the text by ear". MitchellNCharity 13:51, 28 August 2007 (EDT) The above could be linked to a dictionary-building activity; see Words.

Iconic dictionary-building game

An idea related to iconic generation of text and dictionary-building: encouraging students to participate in building such an iconic dictionary could be done by a Draw-and-Guess-like activity. The student reads or hears a word and draws a simple illustration. When the illustration is finished, other students guess the word. The activity could record the time needed for a correct guess. The time needed and the number of players could be used to calculate which drawing to use in the iconic dictionary. Player age could also be taken into account.

For words that are easy to guess, a very quick reaction type game mode could be used. For instance, the drawn image and four words might be shown and the player tries to press a key corresponding to the direction of the correct word. This could aid in learning to read, and might be suitable for young children. For words that are harder to guess, it would probably be better if the player has to type the word, to provide a better measure of representation value. The more difficult words would likely be used by older students who are better at spelling and have a larger vocabulary.

International comprehension of local drawings may vary. A possibility is to use translation dictionaries coupled with the Draw-and-Guess-like activity with players all over the world. There might be some way that this could help in selecting the most neutral and representative illustration for international use. Any ideas? This seems difficult. It would perhaps also give students an idea of different perspectives and interpretations in different cultures. Such differences should be taken into account if translating between iconic dictionaries, and if using the activity in an international setting. Is use of an international iconic dictionary offensive for some?

Could this be coupled with Wiktionary? Would such a game and iconic dictionary be of interest outside the XO environment?

Additional note: could the XO camera be used to capture video illustrations of words in a similar manner? Would it be possible to build a video based iconic dictionary through a charade type game with similar design? Could a most representative photo contest game be constructed around these principles?

Is a video based iconic dictionary possible, given the limited storage space on the XO? Could it be streamed from the School Server? Would a vector graphics animation approach be better, used in a game similar to the one mentioned above?

--Sense Albatross 13:08, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Exploring other writing systems

  • Script explorer - explore fascinating writing systems of the world. See [1] for some ideas. E.g. nonlinear ordering, different directions, ligatures, interesting forms and histories, ...
  • Phonetics toy - sort of like TamTam (Mini) but with IPA symbols and sounds. Select (or type?) IPA characters and hear them pronounced; optionally in context. Bonus: sequence them and try to make words from mother tongue.
  • include example words and phrases in both IPA and in the vernacular script of the relevant language
  • would be nice to have script-to-speech synthesis as in Speak, but probably very hard to do in general.
  • could link to Words?


Peer Editing

I think it would be fun and educational to encourage kids to edit each others' writing. Editing really gets across the message that language is for communication. So I put together a site to mediate the editing process, Peer Editing Exchange. Check it out.

-- Jpritikin 07:50, 10 September 2007 (EDT)

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