In this class, I have you use Moodle to practice dictation. You listen to the audio and then fill in blanks that I have made. You can stop the video at any time and you can look at the Japanese text in order to understand the meaning of the English narration. After you finish filling in the blanks, Moodle shows you what you got right and wrong, and also shows you the correct answers. If you made some mistakes, you can try the same exercise again until you get everything right. I hope that these features help you get used to the words and phrases in the narration. As your teacher, Moodle is also good for me because it lets me check to see how much progress each one of you is making.
On the other hand, using Moodle in this way has some disadvantages. First, the words and phrases that I have made into blanks may not be the ones that you need to study the most. Sometimes, you may find that I have made a blank over a word or phrase that is very easy for you and that you do not need to study. Conversely, there may be a word or phrase that is difficult for you and that you need to study but that I have not made into a blank. This problem with the location of the blanks is one reason why I suggest that you practice dictation outside of Moodle, using the mp4 files that I have made for you. If you practice dictation using the mp4 files outside of Moodle you can decide what you need to study and what you do not need to study. Another advantage of using the mp4 files to practice directly is that you can do it on your smart phone. The Moodle dictation exercises do not work well on a smart phone so I think you need to have a large tablet or a computer in order to use Moodle. Finally, if you download the mp4 onto your smart phone or other portable device, you do not need to be connected to the internet in order to practice dictation.
In this video, I'd like to show you how to use one of the mp4 files I have made to study English and to practice dictation on your phone in the following ways:
- while looking at the text
- without looking at the text
- while you looking at the text
- without looking at the text
- after looking at the text
- without looking at the text
In the beginning, I think it's a good idea to read the English subtitles as you listen to the text. If you have trouble understanding what is being said, stop the video so that you have time to check the Japanese translation and to reread the English. If you find words or phrases that are new to you, it's a good idea to look them up. I hope that the Japanese text helps you understand the meaning of the English text. However, the final goal is to understand the English as English. For that reason, I think it is important to study the English text until you feel confident that you can understand it without referring to the Japanese text.
1b. Listening without looking at the text
One goal of practicing with the mp4 files I give you should be to get to the point that you no longer need the text on the screen in order to understand what is being said. If you listen to the text without looking at the screen, you may find that there are some parts that you can understand easily and others that are still difficult for you. Review the difficult parts until you feel you can understand them easily.
I can recommend two basic ways to avoid looking at the text while you listen to an mp4. The first is to just put your phone in your pocket and listen as you are walking or doing something else. This is fine if you don't want to stop the video from time to time. When you feel the need to stop the video occasionally as you listen, I recommend playing the video in portrait mode, like this. Then, you can use a piece of paper or a sticky note to cover the text but, because the video is playing in portrait mode, you should still be able to use the control buttons.
2a. Repeating while looking at the text
Play a phase or sentence and then hit "stop" so that you can repeat out loud what you have just heard. Feel free to look at the English text on the screen as you repeat what you just heard. I recommend that you practice doing this until you feel that it is easy for you to repeat each phrase smoothly. Also, do your best to imitate the pronunciation you hear. Doing so will not only help you improve your pronunciation; it will also force you to concentrate on what you are listening to and that will help you improve your listening ability.
2b. Repeating without looking at the text
One way to practice repeating without looking at the text is to put your phone in your pocket and try to "shadow" what is being said. When one shadows, one does not stop the audio but tries to repeat everything that is said while the audio continues to play. If you can do this and you feel that it is helping you, that's great! If you find it to be difficult, however, don't worry. I think it's fine to stop the audio and then repeat the sentence or phrase you have just heard. To do this without looking at the text, use the portrait mode method I described above. After you have tried to repeat a phrase or sentence without looking at the text, please look at the screen in order to check to see that you remembered the phrase or sentence correctly. If you find this to be difficult at first, start with short phrases. I think you will find that the length of the phrases you can repeat accurately will increase with practice.
3a. Writing after looking at the text
Writing "after" looking at the text means that it is OK to look at the text as you listen. However, after you finish listening you should not look at the screen until you have finished writing the phrase or sentence. After you have finished writing, then you should look at the English text on the screen to see if you have written all of the words correctly. Even though you have just seen the English text on the screen, you may find that it is difficult to remember the phrase or sentence well enough to write it correctly. One thing you can do to make remembering the phrase or sentence easier is to repeat it out loud after you hear it and then to repeat it again as you are writing it. Keep practicing until you are confident that you can write out any sentence or phrase in the mp4 file you are studying immediately after listening to it.
3b. Writing without looking at the text
Writing without looking at the text is dictation. It is the most difficult of the six ways of studying an mp4 file that I am describing in this podcast. To do it well, you will need to understand the meanings of all of the words and phrases you hear, to recognize the pronunciation you hear, to repeat each phrase or sentence in your mind until you have written it, and to write with proper spelling and punctuation. It is difficult because it involves all of these skills and types of knowledge. On the other hand, if you can do it successfully, you can be confident that you have learned a lot about the English you have just written.
When you practice dictation, watch the video in portrait mode so that you can hide the video but can still use the controls. Then, after you have tried to write down a phrase or sentence, look at the text on the screen to see if you have written it correctly. Keep practicing until you can write each part correctly.
Using these six methods to study the English in the mp4 files I provide should help you learn the English in them very thoroughly. However, please do not feel that you need to spend a lot of time studying every part of each mp4 file carefully. Instead, I recommend that you spend relatively little time on the parts you find easy and then spend more time studying the parts that you find to be difficult. Your ability to decide what you need to study carefully and what you can skip is what makes studying in this way even more effective than using Moodle. Once you get used to studying in this way, I think you will find that checking your dictation results yourself helps you learn where your weaknesses are and to correct them as well or better than the feedback that Moodle gives you automatically. Moreover, you can you use the methods I have described in this video to study any audio for which you also have the text. I'll explain how to do that in another podcast.