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Clilstore and the TOOLS project introduced to ECML network

December 11, 2013

20131206_094627 European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), a department within the Council’s Directorate General IV- Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport-, is implementing a project “Language for work”, one objective of which is to create a network of language professionals working in the field of developing skills of migrant workers, and other teachers related to teaching professional language at different educational levels. The network held a meeting on the 5-6th of December, 2013 in Graz, Austria, at the headquarters of the ECML. The network was established last December and this was its second meeting. Language teachers, from state and private sector gathered to share their experience and methodologies of teaching professional language and to learn from each other. The agenda had foreseen time for network members to present the results of their work, including, projects, outcomes of research and other activities. Or simply to provide practitioners’ view on the issue.

Rasa Zygmantaite, a member of Tools project team, who is also a member of the Language for Work network, participated in the meeting and presented Clilstore and the Tools project. 11The time, allocated for the presentation didn’t allow the teachers from the network to register and immediately create their own units during the workshop, however, all the 35 CDs with audio files on how to create your own unit in English (+ Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Lithuanian and Portuguese), that were offered for the workshop participants, were distributed in less than five minutes! The participants of the network showed great interest in the tool, especially its ability to work with other languages than those, using the Latin alphabet, i.e. with all characters of UTF8, which is very important when you work with migrant workers from different parts of the world. The ECML network “Language for work” is finalizing its website, and the participants’ task during one of the workshops was to discuss the functionality of the website in order to make it as attractive and user friendly as possible and really used by language teaching professionals from the European Union and non-EU countries. Members of the network will be able to share their findings and methodological material in the “Library” section of the website.  And not only that- we can link our project to this network to facilitate the access of the finding of the Tools and other http://www.languages.dk projects for the big family of language teachers.
More information: www.ecml.at

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Kick-off meeting Pools-3 Brussels

November 14, 2013

The POOLS-3 Transfer of Innovation project has just kicked off, and will surely be looking to try out the Clilstore platform with new languages…

POOLS - 3

Are you a language teacher interested in using the modern technology as a tool of language learning? Does lack of support and knowledge prevent you from meaningful use of ICT in class? Do you know what CLIL and CALL stand for? Are you familiar with „Task-based learning“?

Nowadays, there is a large number of teachers who want to use innovative methods. However, they lack information and effective tools which would help them to implement ICT and the digital video. The POOLS project addressed these needs by creating materials and tools for Computer Assisted Language Learning method.

POOLS-3 is a Transfer of innovation project based on the original POOLS project funded with support from the European Commission. It will adapt and translate the POOLS guides and manuals, produce digital video material for use of ICT in language learning in three new languages. It will also run teacher training courses on innovative…

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Tools presented at EfVET conference in Athens

October 29, 2013

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On the 23-26th of October, 2013 Tools project was presented at an EfVET (www.efvet.org ) conference in Athens. The theme of the conference “The College that Works” attracted more than 250 participants from all over Europe as well as several non-EU citizens from such countries as Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Hong-Kong, Japan etc. Antonio Silva Mendes, Director for VET and secondary education from DG EAC was among the speakers of the conference. As usual, the conference was very keen on sharing the good practice of the EU funded project, dedicating half day of the conference agenda to a special session called “round tables”. atena-7

Here participants of different EU funded project can present the outcomes of their work to other conference participants. Kent Andersen, Tools project coordinator presented the project together with two other members of the Tools team in two half an hour sessions during the main time of the conference agenda and attracted a big number of the audiences during both rounds. The project and the tool were further discussed among the project participants and the conference delegates and the feedback was more than positive. E.g. a principal from a school in Germany said he will make sure language teachers use the tool, as the school is very keen on IT and innovation in teaching. Other teachers were prepared not only to use this during their classes, but for their own language learning during their free time. The possibility to link the Multidict with various WebPages including famous news channels make it easier and more attractive to teach politics and history, said another teacher from Denmark. atena-5
This year the project could offer the finished web based tool- the Clilstore, which is connected to Multidict and Wordlink. The teachers were eager to try the tool themselves; however, due to a bit too slow internet it was not possible to do it directly during the roundtable workshop. The participants took DIY videos which will help them to try the tool in their normal surrounding s and we look forward to new users in the Clilstore.

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An t-Alltan, Clilstore, agus Guthan nan Eilean

October 25, 2013

Here is Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle’s recent presentation at a national conference for Gaelic teachers – An t-Alltan – speaking about his work for TOOLS on Clilstore.

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

Seo an taisbeanadh a bh’ aig Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle o chionn treiseag aig co-labhairt nàiseanta airson tidsearan. Tha An t-Alltan air a bhith a’ ruith o 2008, ach b’ e seo a’ chiad chothrom aig Caoimhín an obair a tha e a’ dèanamh airson Pròiseact TOOLS air Clilstore, Wordlink, agus Multidict a shealltainn. Cha robh aige ach 20 mionaid, ach rinn e an gnothach glè mhath – le “plug” airson Guthan nan Eilean san òraid aige cuideachd. Taing mhòr, Chaoimhín!

 

 

Here is Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle’s recent presentation at a national conference for Gaelic teachers – An t-Alltan – speaking about his work for TOOLS on Clilstore, Wordlink, and Multidict. He only had 20 minutes but still managed a plug for Island Voices….

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Tools team meets in Evora

October 12, 2013

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The beginning of the school year was marked by another productive event for the Tools project team. They met in Evora, a beautiful old University town in Portugal, which added to the atmosphere of the meeting, while the crowds of students dressed in black festive gowns for the inauguration ceremony were an additional proof of the relevance and usefulness of the work we are doing.

2013-09-16 10.14.41The meeting in Evora in September was combined with a EUROCALL conference, which provided a good opportunity for the Project team to gather additional feedback from language teaching Professionals from all over Europe. September was marked by finalizing the Guidebook for Clilstore – a guide book for teachers on how to use the software, including DIY videos and instructions on how to create a perfect unit.

The feedback gathered during the conference (in fact it has been planned in the application in order to make the Tool capable of serving the needs of teachers working with different types and levels of students) proved that the Team has created a product which has a future among the family of language teachers.

Some good news for tablet users: the Guidebook, as designed by Lone Olstrup, looks very attractive on the e-books shelf and is pleasant toAngelica read with a single touch of the screen to turn the pages.

Angelica Bucur, external evaluator of the project, took part in the meeting and presented her comments about the progress of the project activities. The overall picture is very good – as seen from Angelica’s smile!

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Robert Burns on Benbecula

October 11, 2013

The first Clilstore units using dictionaries of Scots…

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

As rumours circulate that Prestwick Airport is to be renamed “Robert Burns International Airport” the Island Voices project expands its linguistic scope still further, placing local recitations of two of Scotland’s national bard’s most famous poems on the online Clilstore platform. Clicking on any word will take you directly to a choice of Scots, rather than English, dictionaries.

It’s true that the Hebrides are traditionally much more closely associated with Gaelic than with Scots, but here’s another reminder that people are much more mobile these days – even if they do still like to hold on to speech patterns acquired in younger days…

Dumfries-born Denis Johnston addresses the haggis, while simultaneously wielding the knife here, serving up a tasty verbal hors d’ oeuvre: http://multidict.net/cs/1454

And Rob Keltie, in a prodigious feat of memory, takes his audience through the very substantial main course with a dash of Doric seasoning, delivering Tam…

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Catching up with Clilstore

September 18, 2013

Kent and Caoimhìn talk about how the idea that became Clilstore has developed over time.

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

The fourth meeting of the European TOOLS project has taken place in Evora, Portugal, following on directly from the 2013 Eurocall conference. At the heart of the project is the development of the innovative “Clilstore” software package.  In these short conversations Gordon Wells invited the project co-ordinator, Kent Andersen, and the program developer, Caoimhìn Ò Donnaile, to outline briefly how the project has developed and explain how it can help language learners and teachers. Kent speaks in English, and Caoimhìn in Gaelic.

Here’s Kent:

Here’s Caoimhìn:

The idea for Clilstore itself developed out of discussions and developments initiated in the “POOLS-T” project. You can hear Kent and Caoimhìn talking about that project three years ago in this Island Voices post.

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Experience of Clilstore workshops to Gaelic summer course students at SMO

August 25, 2013

1280-professor-versus-computer-learning
Over the last few weeks, I have been delivering Clilstore workshops to adult learner students on the Gaelic language short courses here at SMO, and I thought it would be worth sharing my experiences with the list…

Clilstore – or rather the combination of Clilstore, Gordon’s “Guthan nan Eilean” (Island Voices) videos, and the excellent “Faclair Beag” Gaelic to English online dictionary (which does lemmatization) – proved very popular indeed. A typical comment was, “Why have we not heard about this before?” I came across some of the students using it for themselves in the evenings and weekends outside of classes.

Demonstrations with an overhead projector were ok, but hands-on workshops worked much better. The Clilstore interface is now clear enough that it doesn’t need much of any demonstration beforehand. The students’ familiarity with computers varied widely though, so it was good to have them on individual computers and be able to sort out individual problems and questions.

Two important things I learned you should have with you if you are giving a workshop (in addition to the feedback forms) are (1) a form for the students to sign their names on, and (2) spare pens for students who have not brought a pen. That way you stand the best chance of getting paper-trail evidence which we can supply to the EC project evaluators.

The classes which most appreciated Clilstore were the intermediate level classes – the “breakthrough” level classes who would otherwise be struggling to find any authentic Gaelic language material on the Internet which they could cope with. The higher level classes found the Guthan nan Eilean videos wonderful, but they managed to cope with them ok with the help of the transcripts and made little use of the dictionary, whereas the intermediate level students used the dictionary a lot. One thing which emerged is that it would be good to have more advanced level material in Gaelic, at levels C1 and C2.

Another thing which emerged is that we have a bit of work to do on lemmatization within Clilstore/Wordlink/Multidict. Even though the Faclair Beag does lemmatization, other Gaelic dictionaries do not and the current compromise of throwing out ‘h’ when it appears as second letter is not good enough. This applies even more so to Irish Gaelic.

The class which was most effusive in their praise for Clilstore was an intermediate level Scottish Gaelic class for Irish Gaelic speakers – i.e. a cognate language. They would not have been able to understand the Guthan nan Eilean videos much at all without the transcripts. Even with the transcripts, they did not recognize a lot of the words because of spelling and other differences from Irish Gaelic. But with the help of the dictionaries they were able to recognize the connections immediately and made fast progress. This was very encouraging to see, because a cognate language learner was something which we promised to help support in the TOOLS project application.

Incidentally one of our full-time distance learning students told me that she found Wordlink tremendously useful for something which I had never expected – namely going from English into Gaelic. I had never expected that because nearly all Gaelic speakers these days know English better than they know Gaelic, and that was true of this student too even though she is German and living in Germany. So why should they be looking for a Gaelic translation of English words in an English texts? The answer is that this student does a lot of work on the Gaelic Wikipedia, and often translates parts of English Wikipedia pages to Gaelic. So she views the English Wikipedia page with Wordlink, and can easily find Gaelic translations of English technical terms as she goes along.

Caoimhín O Donnaile

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DIY Videos for language teachers now in Danish, English, and Spanish

June 11, 2013

Videos in Spanish, English, and Danish demonstrating how language teachers can easily create online units like those found at http://multidict.net

Here you can find the teacher DIY video in English:

The teacher DIY video in Spanish:

The teacher DIY video in Danish:

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Tools’ boat moves forward

May 28, 2013

IMG_0047The Tools project for CLIL methods is successfully moving towards its final goal – to create a free online service, where language teachers can author online multimedia learning units, where all words in a text are automatically linked to online dictionaries in +100 languages. The system has been functioning for more than a year now, and the project team has been testing it with various target groups in their own institutions as well as in numerous international conferences, workshops and other events. The interface of the Clilstore was the most important issue for several months. The project team has the ambition to make it user friendly in both ways – functional and visual. The software developer Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle (SMO expert on PHP and JavaScript programming) was compiling the website system layers mainly based on PHP coding with Javascript to enhance the user interface. Together with Lone Olstrup from SDE they were also renovating the design layout of the pages. The final version of the interface design was voted on in Valencia meeting by the Tools team. Now the system has acquired its final look, while at the same time Caoimhín is still polishing and optimizing the function details. E.g. a problem with Arabic script had occurred, because the letters looked too small, almost impossible to read, if the system used unique Times New Roman for all languages. Now it is possible to enlarge the font of the text for Arabic.  With finalizing the interface of the Clilstore, the time has come for Kent Andersen to create the DYI video, which will be translated into partner languages. With this video, which will be available on Youtube and in project website after June 10, language teachers will easily create their own exercises. Moreover, the course book as teacher’s manual is on its way and will be ready by the end of summer.