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Old October 09, 2008, 04:30 AM
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Language learning software

I'm thinking of writing my own language learning software (Spanish will be first) but I'm a bit unsure of the best approach to take to create something that will actually help people learn.
At the moment I'm thinking of having a number of lessons with each lessons revolving around a simple conversation, the point of the lesson is to help you understand everything in the conversation. But beyond that I'm not sure.
So I'd love to hear any suggestions people have about what they've either found useful or think would be useful.
   
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Old October 09, 2008, 05:50 AM
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I like the idea of following conversations as a learning tool, but this has been done by a lot of software products. May I suggest that you use real conversations? Find several native speakers and ask if you could record their actual conversations. You may have to do this over several weeks to get enough elements of current speech. Make transcripts of the conversations to use in your software. Make absolutely certain the audio is available with your software. You should probably provide the ability to listen to both fluent speech and individual words. You may have to have someone else pronounce the individual words.
As each lesson progresses, you may just want to showcase certain items (not the whole conversation, but provide the whole thing for ear training exercises), like subjects, then objects, and adjectives, then verbs. I believe we all learn things a little bit differently, so this approach may not work for everyone. But, I think helping someone listen for key elements is always going to work. You may want to let the user drive (let him/her decide what elements to listen for and learn).
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Old October 09, 2008, 06:59 AM
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I like the idea of using real conversations as opposed to scripted ones but I think that could cause problems for beginners. Even with a transcript I imagine it'd be quite difficult to follow. I also really like the idea of giving users certain things to listen out for.
Have you had a look at mangolanguages.com? They do a similar thing where they have a conversation and then try to break it down. I like how their system works but I don't want to just rip them off.

Last edited by pogo; October 09, 2008 at 07:40 AM.
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Old October 09, 2008, 07:23 AM
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Hmm. mangolanguages.com certainly has some good things going for it. I liked the format. The sample lesson I heard was simple. But when they explained the grammar, it wasn't too interesting. I think gramar is very important, but I didn't like their approach. I hope you can improve on that, or at least allow interactive learning of grammar at any point.
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Old October 09, 2008, 07:31 AM
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I think that having pictures that go along with the conversation would be good as well. For instance, if the conversation is talking about a house - put up a picture of a house then a tree when the conversation mentions a tree. I enjoy the Spanish word/picture relationship as in Rosetta Stone vs. Spanish word/English word relationship.
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Old October 09, 2008, 07:39 AM
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Yes! Good point!
Pictures (or pointing at an object) is how we learn to associate a word with an object in the first place. That is essential.
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Old October 09, 2008, 07:46 AM
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I've used Rosetta stone as well and it's very good for teaching you to remember objects such as different fruits or animals for example but doing more complicated things gets very difficult to describe with images.

One idea i did have was to include bonus vocabulary to expand upon things mentioned in the conversation, so if a speaker in the conversation asks ¿Comó estás? you could give a number of alternative responses to this question. I guess this could also be expanded to explain some grammar point such as how to conjugate estar in the present tense so people can start to ask questions such as ¿Comó está? or ¿Comó están?
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Old October 11, 2008, 05:40 PM
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What do you mean by language learning software? and what do you mean by "Spanish will be first"?
I'm confused!
Oh, yes Rosetta Stone- I have it, but it's not downloaded into my computer. I have it for Chinese and Spanish.
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Old October 11, 2008, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jchen View Post
What do you mean by language learning software? and what do you mean by "Spanish will be first"?
He's planning on creating a computer program to help people learn languages, and Spanish will be the first language that he makes it for.
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