Creating Audio Materials for EFL Teachers

Posted on Sep 11 2018 - 2:32pm by Zdenda

Nowadays everyone can create audio-visual materials in professional quality. But the question is what materials we should create. The audio files, as we know them, contain a short text which students listen to and then they answer some comprehension questions. But is this the best audio which we can give to our students?

Unfortunately, there is very little ELT methodology that would suggest some other listening materials which would be helpful for our students. In this post, I would love to share several new kinds of listening exercises and I will show you how to make them. If you have any more ideas and suggestions for listening exercises please share them with me at rotreklzdenek@gmail.com. Thank you.
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Creating Audio

WavePad is the tool I have been using for creating audios most often. I know there are many free tools but I like this paid one for the following reason: unlike all the others, this one allows you to add your voice anywhere into an existing sound file. It sounds like something that every audio tool does, but unlike all the other tools this one doesn´t delete the existing part of the file. It simply adds your voice there and expands the original file. You can see how it works in the video below:

 

What is this good for?

Thanks to this feature I can create the following exercises:

  • rocketlanguages listening – As the name suggests, this exercise was inspired by rocketlanguages.com. Their lessons always contain a recording in the target language and then the phrases are explained and taught using the mother tongue. Students are asked to listen, repeat and translate various words and sentences and thus they learn the language of the original recording. You can see an example lesson in the video below (Even though the lesson is a video, it is based on the recording created in WavePad and it could work without the video too.)

    • Read and repeat – by inserting silences into the original recording, you can have a great exercise where students read a text and listen to it. At the end of each sentence, there is a silence in which the students repeat what they have heard and read. In this way, they can improve their pronunciation. It could be used the other way round, too. Students read the text and then they listen and check whether they pronounced the words correctly. You can see both of the exercises in the following video.
    • Zdenda listening – students hear a sentence in English, its mother tongue translation and then there is a pause in which they repeat the sentence in English. I have been using this exercise for several years, but I am not sure how useful it really is. You can hear an example below.

Dictations

This software is great for creating various forms of dictations. The simplest form of dictation is the one where students listen and write what they hear. Then they or the teacher check their texts against the original. You can see and hear such a simple dictation below.

Another kind of dictation is a simple gap fill. Students listen and write the missing words.

The third form of dictation I have been using is the receptive dictation. Students listen and they have two options and they say which sentence they heard.

Sound dictation is the last form of dictation I can think of. To create a quality sound dictation, you need a piece of software to help you mix two or more tracks together. For mixing I use the Audiodirector by Cyberlink. Normally, it is really expensive, but you can get a free copy with some specialized computer magazines or if you buy Powerdirector.
You can get free sounds at Freesound.org. Once again, the quality varies but some are awesome. To be able to share your creations, just make sure that you use CC0  sounds. You can hear my sound dictation below. There is a worksheet too.

Where do I get native speakers to record something for me?

This used to be a real problem in the past. Fortunately, now it is a breeze to hire a native speaker to record anything for you. I frequently use the paid services at http://www.fiverr.com. My favourite speakers there are theleam, caz3 and zazzbizz.

www.Fivesquid.com is another site where you can find native speakers who will record anything for you. It is slightly more expensive and the delivery takes longer, but I loved the performance of EmilySBrooks123 there. It was perfect for ELT purposes.

If you do not want to spend any money on voiceovers, you can try Rhinospike. You place a text there and a native speaker will record it for you. To be able to download the recording you need to record some texts in your mother tongue in return or buy some credits. Unfortunately, the quality of the recordings varies a lot but it is for free.

Songs

To be honest, I am not really sure how useful songs are for learning English. I have met several students who sang their favourite songs, translated and learnt the lyrics but their English was not good. Unlike students who played computer games or watched films in English, these students didn’t progress.
Even though I doubt the usefulness of songs, I have created a few for my students. You can see them below:


If you think that I am really talented, think again. I just wrote the lyrics and I used the fiverr.com services again. I can recommend Douglas Haines who recorded several songs for me (The second song is by him).

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