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Internet Multimedia Resources for Language Learning

(This article appeared in The Language Teacher, August 1998, Volume 22, Number 8, pp. 45-47. Publication of The Japan Association for Language Teaching. Copyright @ Tim Newfields and Randall S. Davis.)

Until recently, watching a video usually meant inserting a 190-mm cartridge into a video player connected to a TV, then pressing a switch. The Internet, however, is revolutionizing the way people not only watch videos, but create them. The integration of video, television, and computer technologies is well underway and many multimedia resources are now available on the Internet. This article outlines some of those resources which are useful for foreign language classes.

Accessing Movie Resources
Multimedia resources available on the Internet comprise everything short of full-length feature movies. Are you looking for a review or summary of a popular movie? The Movie Critic Homepage (http://www.moviecritic.com/) or Gene's Movie Reviews (http://expert.cc.purdue.edu/~gehowell/REVIEW/Movie.html) probably have what you want. The Internet Movie Database (http://us.imdb.com/) is also a must-visit site for comprehensive information on thousands of movies. Would you like to read a film script? Over 4,000 scripts can be ordered online from the Script Store (http://www.writerswebsite.com/scrnplays/).

Drop by the Scripts OnScreen Homepage (http://www.scripts-onscreen.com) or Drew's Script-O-Rama (http://www.script-o-rama.com/), where you can find hundreds of scripts online. Are you searching for sound and video clips from recent blockbusters? The Movie Sounds Page (http://www.moviesounds.com) or Movie and TV Video Clips homepage (http://www.cris.com/~Calbus/xmovclps.shtml) are two excellent resources.

If your interest is more in educational films, we recommend Thinking Allowed (http://www.thinking-allowed.com), the Media Channel (http://www.mediachannel.com), Social Studies School Service (http://socialstudies.com/), and Schoolhouse Videos & More (http://www.schoolroom.com/). A large number of educational videos can be found at The Reel (http://www.reel.com), one of the most extensive online video stores.

Using Internet TV and Radio Resources
Anyone with hi-speed Internet access can download audio or video broadcasts, and in ways consistent with fair use policies, use them for class. CNN Interactive updates (http://www.cnn.com) are contain clips from recent new stories. You can also watch BBC television news bulletins (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/on_air/default.stm) three times a day using the RealVideo player . In addition, American National Public Radio broadcasts (http://www.npr.org/index.text.html) and Timecast: RealAudio & RealVideo Guide (http://www.timecast.com/) contain links to a whole kelidescope of radio and TV news broadcasts.

To play a sound or video clips on your Web browser, you'll probably need to download special third party software plugs such as ShockWave (http://macromedia.com/index.html), RealAudio (http://www.real.com/), or QuickTime (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/). A list of common Netscape software plug in extensions is available online (http://home.netscape.com/download/) and the most common MS Explorer extensions can be found at (http://www.microsoft.com/ie/download/). The book "How to Play Sound and Video Files on Your Computer" (http://www.deseretbook.com/multimedia.html) also explains plug ins thoroughly.

Creating Online Video Resources
The Internet has opened up several possibilities in using video technology online. The most salient one is a chance to bring people from diverse physical locations together into one virtual space via video conferencing. Other uses include classroom multimedia projects or multimedia language learning sites.

1. Video Conferencing: A simple camcorder (a device halfway between a digital camera and a video recorder) with any compatible program such as ICQ Meeting Point CU-See-Me (http://www.cu-seeme.cornell.edu/) and VideoPhone (http://www.connectix.com/html/videophone.html) can take video images of up to 20 frames per second and transit them over the Internet.

Real-time video conferencing offers the spontaneity of a phone conversation and varied levels of privacy. There are over three hundred different public video "chat channels" on the Internet. (Those supporting CU-See-Me protocols are called "reflectors.") A list of public reflectors is available at (http://ccwf.cc.utexas..edu/~streak/ref.html). For example, the Nesna College reflector (128.39.163.112) out of Norway is for discussions of educational research. The Global Schoolhouse reflector (199.106.67.100) is mostly for classroom-to-classroom educational exchanges. The University of Tsukuba reflector (130.158.64.240), permits discussions on any topic, but nudity or profanity are forbidden. Over one-third of all public video reflectors are devoted to sexually explicit themes, so teachers wishing to screen out these sort of conferences had best visit the cite in advance to check the traffic and the content. Each different channel has its own purpose and rules of etiquette. Desktop Video Conferencing Product Survey (http://www3.ncsu.edu/dox/video/survey.html) gives an extensive list of video conferencing software products used on a variety of computer systems.

Many universities, companies, and even individuals can set up private channels in which they speak directly to selected individuals. These services resemble private phone calls in which people communicate through voice and gestures. Whereas international phone calls are not feasible for most classes, live video conferencing requires no special phone charges, and the equipment itself is usually well under $200. Moreover, those with limited bandwidth might prefer to type their messages instead of speaking and also reduce the frame rate of their camcorders. Two sources of further information about videoconferencing are Videoconference.com (http://www.videoconference.com) and Nerd World (http://www.nerdworld.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi?cat=1934) of KeyInfo Services (http://www.keyinfo.com/help/howto.html).

2. Classroom Multimedia Projects
Another way to integrate video and multimedia resources is to convert classroom videos into multimedia web pages. Creating a classroom page with video and audio clips encourages students to consider how they want to present themselves and how to integrate graphic, audio, and text material.

One example of a student page with AV components is available at Hoffer Elementary School (http://cmp1.ucr.edu/exhibitions/hoffer/home/hoffer.video.html). These kinds of projects are especially useful for students who are contemplating sales, marketing, or computer careers. To create video clips for viewing online, you will need a video camera, a method of digitalizing the video, for example, with a computer video card, and a tool like the RealVideo encoder (http://www.real.com/products/creation/index.html) to encode and compress your file. Several excellent resource detailing how to add video to your site are Builder.Com (http://builder.cnet.com/Graphics/Video/ss06c.html), Adding RealVideo Files to Your Web Page (http://www-lib.usc.edu/~khowell/video/realvideo.html), and Video over the InterNet (http://www.rad.com/networks/1996/video/video.htm).

3. Multimedia Language Learning Sites:
Besides classroom projects, teachers and material developers can create online audio-visual materials making use of the multidimensional nature of audio, video, and text combined. At Sounds English (http://www.netmatters.co.uk/users/gjtaylor/), you can find the Animated Alphabet, a pronunciation guide with sound and lip-synched animation, and the English Karaoke Jukebox, both running with QuickTime technology in innovative ways.

Another site, Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab (http://www.esl-lab.com), has created an online JavaScript listening quizzes using RealAudio and RealVideoTechnology. Students listen to the audio and video clips and then answer multiple-choice or true-false questions. The students' answers can be check immediately by the page, and this feedback appears in a separate window.

There are many sources for obtaining multimedia software over the Internet to help you get started creating similar sites. Fortunately, many of "hi tech" effects can be accomplished on low budgets with appropriate software. A useful list of multimedia software programs is available at . Another recommended source of internet multimedia software can be found at TUCOWS (http://tucows.roppongi.or.jp/).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Internet also offers many interesting ideas about how to use multimedia and videos in a foreign language classes. The JALT Video N-SIG Homepage (http://langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt/nsig/video/index.html) and Dave Sperling's ESL Cafe Video Web Guide (http://www.eslcafe.com/search/Video/) and are two excellent resources in this category. The Ed Tech Pages (http://www.fortunecity.com/skyscraper/networking/68/index.html) is also worth a look.

Conclusion:
This review has outlined some of the multimedia resources available on the Internet today. It is important to note that the technology is changing rapidly and many new resources will be available in the future. Those without Internet access who are interested in getting a glimpse of what it possible might want to read Dave Sperling's Internet Guide from Prentice Hall Regents (1998-2004). A review of this book is available at: http://home.worldnet.fr/pinkpig/theteflfarm/reviews_internet_guide.htm.

Reviewed by Tim Newfields & Randall S. Davis

Reference:
Sperling, D. (1998). Dave Sperling's internet guide. Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents.


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