Friday, September 18, 2015

DELTA Module 2 - Course Outline and Tips

I have decided to take the face-to-face option of Delta Module 2 at International House Tbilisi. The blended option with the Distance Delta was way too expensive.

In Week 1 of the course we had one diagnostic observation for which we had to write a full lesson plan. The lesson plan paperwork, self-reflection and the tutor feedback have to go into the Appendices of the first assignment - Professional Development. Before the start of Week 2, we had to submit one part of it (Stages 1 and 2) - 1000 words, which is actually quite doable. In this part of the PDA you are asked to reflect on your beliefs and classroom practices as a teacher, identify your key strengths and weaknesses and suggest an action plan.
NB When suggesting an action plan, bear in mind that you are going to be evaluated on how far you are progressing in whatever there is in your action plan throughout the course. So be realistic with what skills you can improve in about 3-4 weeks.

Week 1 was also the week in which we had to start getting to know our learners to be able to write a group profile and an individual profile for the first LSA in Week 3. The class profile may not be as difficult to write as the individual profile because you need information about your students' learning preferences and styles,  their interests and reasons for learning English, their general strengths and weaknesses. So during the first week you may need to design lessons and/or questionnaires to find all this out to be able to write the information in your assessed lesson plan.
NB Decide what your first assignment is going to be about to pay attention to your learners' strengths and weaknesses in relation to your first assessed lesson as these two are also part of the individual profile. Typing up the individual profile takes a long time so start this one earlier just to add new information whenever you learn new things about your learners. For your other assessed lessons, you will be using the same profile, but you will need to change the strengths and weaknesses in relation to the lesson section.

In Week 2 we had two developmental observations and had to write two full lesson plans and this made it impossible to start writing the first Language Systems/Skills Assignment earlier. I ended up doing this over the weekend and this was a real burden. I thought I wasn't going to make it by Monday morning because for the research you do, you need to design a lesson based on ideas you discussed in your LSA and write a lesson plan. The challenge here is not to mix skills with systems in your main aims. If your assignment is about some grammar area, then make sure that everything you do in the lesson is around that and is in the main aims. Everything else you do, speaking as a follow-up activity or gist reading for guided discovery should be in subsidiary aims. Actually, you don't have to have subsidiary aims, so you can forget about that for systems assignment. I think this week was very stressful for all trainees and some, including me, even started thinking of dropping out. So be prepared for a lot of stress.
NB It would help if before starting the course you already knew exactly which 2 skills and 2 systems you would like to focus on in your LSAs and do a fair bit of reading about those. For skills you will have to choose 1 receptive and 1 productive skill, you cannot do research on two productive skills, for example. For systems, you choose from pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, discourse. Discourse might be too challenging to do, so perhaps you shouldn't think of that one.

In Week 3 we taught out first assessed lesson and had to wait until Friday to find out whether the first LSA was a pass or a fail. The tutors warned us in advance that many candidates fail their first LSA and we should not worry if that's the case. A lot here depends on your post-lesson evaluation: if you can discuss the key strengths ad weaknesses of your lesson plan and lesson execution objectively, say what the learners took away from the lesson and provide evidence for that, and explain how your are going to consolidate on the learning, this will affect your grade for the LSA. I got Pass on both the background essay and lesson execution.
NB To get a pass you need to pass only two LSAs (one skills and one systems), has to be the internally assessed one, the other one has to be the externally assessed one. So make sure that for your externally assessed lesson you save a skill or system lesson that is one of your strengths.

In Week 4 we had to submit our second LSA and were again assessed - this time the LSA was skills and I have to say this one was really difficult to analyse for most of us, the trainees. The thing here is decide on the title of your LSA an stick to it in the analysis. Mine was Helping lower level learners understand authentic texts using top-down processing. So in the background essay I had to define what an authentic text was in the introduction and analyse top-down processing in the Analysis section. I analysed the types of schematic knowledge and top-down processing which needed to be explained in relation to stages of the lesson and types of activities. This all has to be based on the reading you do. I found Nuttall's book very useful for this. I got Merit for both the background essay and lesson execution.
NB The stress level at this point started escalating. The course became hell for all of us by Friday when we were waiting for feedback. So be prepared for a lot of stress because if you cannot handle stress, you shouldn't be taking the course.

In Week 5 we had a bit of a break. This was the week of Experimental Practice when you choose any approach in ELT that you have never tried before and try it on your learners. You are only observed by your peers and the background essay, lesson plan and the post-lesson evaluation form Part B of your Professional Development Assignment. For a Pass in the Module, PDA has to be submitted and does not have to be a Pass.
This week we had a lot of fun, I have to say. Some of us experimented with Dogme, some with the Silent way, Suggestopedia and strong-end TBL. You need to do the research before you teach the lesson because you need to have a clear idea about the approach/method. You should also write the background essay before the lesson, 2000 words, + you write 500 words of post lesson evaluation which is part of the assignment. I did mine on Dogme and my learners loved it. I decided that Dogme was worth trying out with my own groups back home. I got a Pass for my Experimental Practice paper.
We also had a developmental observation this week for which we prepared a lesson to test one of the approaches we were going to use in one of the remaining LSAs. This was very helpful for us actually although that meant extra lesson plan writing. Still I would highly recommend requesting a developmental observation, which is not assessed, to practise the approach you are going to employ in your LSA 3 or 4, especially 4, as it is externally assessed and it is of utmost importance to pass both parts of it.
NB This week we all started to understand what the second module of DELTA is all about and it became a matter of good time management skills, because if you are bad at that, then the course will be even more stressful for you.

In Week 6 we had to submit LSA 3 background essay and teach the third assessed lesson. I think this week it was less stressful because we were all more worried about the external assessment the following week. In this week the tutors changed TP groups. So the first two lessons and PDA Part A were assessed by one tutor, and PDA Part B and LSA 3 were assessed by the second tutor.
For my third LSA I chose writing and the title was Helping lower level learners writ formal emails. The focus of the lesson was writing emails of enquiry. I found writing this LSA easier than the previous two, because we had our tutor's feedback to base this one on. Again, the Analysis section of the essay was not so easy, and everyone found skills analysis more difficult than systems analysis.
The moods in general were gloomy and everyone was only thinking about the end of the course. Although I got Merit on both - the essay and the lesson, I was a bit worried about LSA 4, perhaps because of the fact that this one was going to be assessed externally and had to be at least a pass on both.
NB It would help if you could think of your LSA 4 well before the time you have to write it. It saves you time and worry. I decided this in Week 4 and did not have to worry about not having ideas about how to stage the lesson and how to deliver it. Some of my peers felt drained by Week 7 and could not come up with ideas.

In Week 7 we had our externally assessed lesson. Although we all found writing LSA 3 easy, everyone was again stressed about LSA 4. And it did seem difficult to write. I think we were all overthinking and wanted to include everything our tutors told us about. But the word limit would not let us do that, of course. After the lesson we were given 48 hours to write the post-lesson evaluation and send it to the main tutor. I think this is a rule for all Delta centres, but I might be wrong. After the last LSA it was really hard to get down to the post-lesson evaluation and all of us felt the same way. We were too exhausted to do anything. But the next day after the external we all partly got our senses back. So I would think that it wasn't just us and many Module 2 trainees feel drained the day of the external assessment as it is way too stressful.
In Week 7 we also had to write Stage 4 for PDA Part A and submit it for it to get a final grade of Pass or Fail. I did this one before my externally assessed lesson as I knew that after that I would be more dead than alive to be able to write it. And it proved to be a good idea. I couldn't even reply to my mail that day, leave alone write an assignment. So if you can, try to complete your PDA Stage 4 before your external because after it, you may find it impossible to do.
The last day of the course was about where to next. But I don't think we were prepared to think about any other courses that day. We still need to get our results in two months' time so we are definitely not going to take any courses yet.
NB Don't worry if the external assessor doesn't talk to you or smile. They are not allowed to. So take it as something normal.

All in all, the Delta course is worth taking but you should forget about life while doing it and you must be prepared to a lot of stress.

Good luck to everyone who is about to start it. And good luck to everyone who is waiting for the results.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DELTA Module 3 Reading List

Before my course started, I wanted to read the books necessary for the third module to be prepared but I couldn't find much on the reading list for Module 3. When the course started, I realised how useful it would have been for me to have read at least some of the books beforehand.

To help other candidates, I decided to share the reading list for the module. Now, apart from the books for your specialism, which you ideally choose before the course starts, there are also books that are a must-have and a must-read for all specialisms. I will start with those.

The extended assignment for this module consists of five parts. For each part of your assignment, you ideally need to refer to 3-4 books (for your specialism even more), which should go into the bibliography at the end of your assignment. Some books are needed for parts 2, 3 and 4. To write the first part, you need to read quite a few books on the specialism of your choice. I chose Teaching learners online/through distance.blended learning. For this specialism as well as for some others, I will share the book list at the end of this post.

The second part of the assignment is Needs Analysis of your current or potential group of students. You need to read about learning styles, motivation, needs analysis and diagnostic testing. The books to read are:
  1. Graves, K. 1996 Teachers as Course Developers CUP
  2. Graves, K. 2000 Designing Language Courses Heinle and Heinle
  3. Hughes, A. 2003 Testing for Language Teachers CUP
  4. Lightbown, P.M. and N. Spada 2013 How Languages are Learned OUP
  5. Richards, J. 1990 The Language Teaching Matrix CUP
  6. Williams, M. and L.R. Burden 1997 Psychology for Language Teachers CUP
In the third part of the assignment you write your Course Proposal and for this you need to read about the principles of syllabus and course design. The books (in addition to the ones for part two) for this part are:
  1. Nunan, D. 1989 Syllabus Design OUP
  2. Nunan, D. 1988 The Learner Centred Curriculum CUP
  3. Harmer, J. 2007 The practice of English Language Teaching Pearson (not on the list but I found it very useful)
In part four of your assignment you need to discuss Assessment and Evaluation. To complete this part, you again need some of the books from the lists above and also:
  1. McNamara, T. 2000 Language Testing OUP
Part five is the conclusion so you just refer to the books you cross-referenced in part one of the assignment, books related to your specialism.

Now for the specialisms, which are:
  1.  Business English
  2. Teaching young learners/young adults
  3. English for Special Purposes
  4. English for Academic Purposes
  5. ESOL learners with clear specialist needs 
  6. Teaching exam classes
  7. Teaching one-to-one
  8. Teaching monolingual classes
  9. Teaching multilingual classes
  10. Teaching in an English-speaking environment
  11. Teaching in a non-English-speaking environment 
  12. Teaching learners online, through distance/blended learning 
  13. Teaching English to learners with special requirements
  14. Language development for teachers
I am sure you will know a lot more about the specialism you choose, so I would like to share the books which I was required to read for Teaching learners online, through distance/blended learning  and the books which I found useful for this assignment. A lot of useful articles regarding online teaching can also be found on the Internet.
  1. Dudeney G., N. Hockly and M. Pegrum. 2013. Digital Literacies. Pearson
  2. Hockly, N. and L. Clandfield. 2010. Teaching Online Tools and Techniques, options and opportunities.Delta Publishing
  3. Salmon, G. 2011. E-Moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. Routledge 
  4. Salmon, G. 2013. E-Tivities: The key to active online learning. Kogan Page
  5. Sharma, P. and B. Barrett. 2007. Blended Learning. Using Technology in and beyond the language classroom. Macmillan 
  6. Teeler D with Gray P 2000 How to use the Internet in ELT Longman
  7. MacDonald, J. 2008 Blended learning and online tutoring Gower Publishing Limited.
As in my research I focused on an IELTS exam class, I can also suggest some books for Teaching Exam Classes specialism. These are:
  1. Burgess, S. & Head. K. 2005 How to Teach for Exams Pearson 
  2. Baxter, A. 1997 Evaluating Your Students Richmond Publishing
  3. Hughes, A. 1989 Testing for Language Teachers CUP
  4. May, P. 1996 Exam Classes OUP
  5. McNamara, T. 2000 Language Testing OUP
  6. Bygate, M. 1987 Speaking OUP
  7. Anderson. A. & Lynch, T. 1988 Listening OUP
  8. Nutall, C. 2005 Teaching Reading Skills Macmillan
  9. Tribble, C. 1996 Writing OUP
  10. Kelly, G. 2000 How to Teach Pronunciation Pearson
  11. Thornbury, S. 2005 How to Teach Speaking Pearson
  12. Harmer, J. 2004 How to Teach Writing Pearson

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Zooburst - a storytelling tool

 Zooburst is a digital storytelling tool which allows users to create interactive 3D pop-up books. The tool is so easy to use, that teachers can ask their learners to create their own books as well. It has MyClasses section where teachers can create protected spaces for their learners' books, but this feature is not free.

 Having registered, click on MyBooks tab to start creating a new book. This is also the space where all your created books will show. At first you need to title your book and write a description. The latter is optional. What I like about this tool is that you can make the book visible to everyone, anyone with a link or only to yourself. So if you are going to use the book in the classroom, you can set it to "Only me".

The work area is self-explanatory - you don't really need to be an expert to create a book. To add a picture, you can either do a search inside Zooburst or upload your own photos. When creating the book, remember to save each page you have not to lose any. You can make a maximum of 10 pages but that's enough for a short classroom activity.

The first book I created was for my students to revise past tenses. I showed them a page at a time and they needed to write a sentence or two describing the picture and connect the description of the first picture with the following one to end up with a story. The students were working in pairs and spent a great deal of time discussing each picture and negotiating the meaning. They all enjoyed the activity.

Another interesting feature of this tool is that it can be presented online. All you need to do is to print the ZB logo, click the Camera tab above the book you want to present, show the printed logo to the camera and your book will pop out from the logo on the camera.

Here is what the book is like.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

E-Book Publishing Options

Sometimes the coursebooks we use do not seem to contain what our learners need, or the information is outdated and we, teachers, start adapting or upgrading the content.

E-book publishing sites actually allow teachers and their learners to create textbooks that meet their requirements. Here are 3 of those sites.

The good thing about this one is that it has an in-built cover builder so that you don't have to create one yourself. There are quite a lot of images to choose from for the cover and it also has a table of content option. These two options make it really easy to create a book. In terms of the book itself, there are two options: either to type the book inside the site or upload a written up book from your computer. Video or any other interactive source cannot be added but you can add images.

On the negative side, the book is not embeddable which for me is not such a good option. I need to create a book which I can embed into my learners wiki and/or Moodle, because, otherwise, they will not complete the tasks not to make their posts public.

This site works more or less the same as BookRix but it doesn't have an in-built cover or content options - you will need to create these yourself. It also doesn't have an option of typing the book in-site - you have to upload a ready made book to it but, I think, the book looks a lot better and you can also get an embed code to add the book itself to a site you run for your learners. Th flipping pages also look good.

Issuu also doesn't support any interactive options, but still it is worth having a look at it.

This is the same book but published on Issuu this time.
3. Glossi

Glossi is a fairly simple tool. You use page templates offered on the site. You create your own cover and can search Google for images for your cover or pages you want to create. Video can be embedded easily which makes it a great tool for a flipped classroom. But make sure to save every page you create not to lose the work if something goes wrong.

The book can be embedded onto a site and is very interactive.

Here's what I have created on Glossi.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

DELTA Module 1 Tips

Having completed the first module and taken the exam, I decided to share some tips with those planning to take the course.

I chose to do the course with TheDistanceDelta because the online mode is more convenient for me as I don't have to give up work and travel somewhere to do it and I can also take care of my family while doing the course.

Initially (the first week only) the course seemed easy enough and we were all quite optimistic about it but then we started doing the assignments (tasks from the exam papers), panic set in and the forums started filling up with pessimistic and desperate  messages. Sometimes I didn't even want to check the threads not to lose faith completely. Working full-time didn't help either. So, if you can work part-time while taking the course, it will be a very good idea to do so.

Although the course is very demanding, there are some things which could be done before and during the course to ease the tension.

1. Before the course starts

Make sure you read (and even re-read)

  • Beyond the Sentence by Scott Thornbury,
  • About Language by Scott Thornbury,
  • An A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury (this one is a must-have book for the whole course and you'd be better off almost memorizing the terms in it as good use of terminology will earn you extra points),
  • How to teach pronunciation by Gerald Kelly (this one is also very important because knowledge of phonology and phonetics is tested very often).
This is essential to do because it will help you a lot during your training.

2. During the course

You will need to refer to An A-Z of ELT during the course, so I would advise buying the book. Throughout both exam papers terminology is tested and you are expected to use the correct terms not the ones you use with your students (for the latter you don't gain any points) and the terminology needs to be spelt correctly for you to get a point - any mistakes and goodbye a valuable point. This British Council page may also come handy.

There is a Quizlet set to memorize the terminology and practise spelling and the app is free for Android and iOS so you can install it on your phone or tablet and work with the cards on the way to work and back home. Alternatively, you can create your own set on Quizlet but before the course because during it you won't have much time.

It is also useful to have Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrot which has grammar tasks for teachers to do and they help a lot in the exam preparation.

During this time it is very important to read about the development of ELT, the approaches and methods from Grammar Translation to Principled Eclecticism - names of people and approaches taken in each method are very important for the exam. 

Revise testing terminology and what each kind of test tests. This also comes up very often in the exam papers. There is even a task which asks you to analyse a test in relation to a certain learner with certain needs in a certain context. 

Also read this Examination Report to see what the guideline answers are and how you should approach each task. 

And revise terminology of phonology again and again. Analyse anything your students say in English for features of connected speech, assimilation, elision, etc.

3. Before the exam

Make sure you do a full mock exam under exam conditions to see which sections you need to spend more time on and, in general, to get a feel for the exam itself. Timing is tough for the tasks and you may find that you do not have enough time to complete a task or two. I managed to complete the tasks but didn't have time to check anything at all. This, I think, is one of the toughest challenges in the exam. 

The day before the exam, I revised terminology for phonology and I was right in doing so - most part of the exam tested phonology related terminology and various features of pronunciation.

And finally, get enough sleep! 

Good luck with the exam!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The '11 Challenge' Post

I wonder why the '11 Challenge' started around Christmas time - maybe we have more free time to take the challenge. 

Here are the 5 rules for tagging or perhaps tag blogging or blog tagging.

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has asked you.
4. List 11 bloggers. You cannot nominate those bloggers who have nominated you.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated to answer. 

Task 1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

I have been tagged by my dear friends Debora Tebovich and Sanja Bozinovic.

Task 2. 11 Random facts about me.

1. I only like shopping for books, DVDs and computers.
2. I really dislike cold weather.
3. Because I dislike the smell of beer, I mix it with Sprite to drink it and many people laugh at me when I do that.
4. I love my first cup of coffee in the morning.
5. I love Doctor Who and Torchwood series and can watch the same episodes over and over again.
6. When I was 4 years old I fell into a lake and nearly drowned. Since then I am afraid of water and never learned to swim.
7. I can play the piano.
8. I love reading detective stories and at the moment my favourite writer is James Patterson.
9. I love Chinese food and can cook it too.
10. I don't watch TV at all. To watch the programs in point 5 I buy the DVDs.
11. I dislike crowds and during public holidays I don't go out. Being in a crowd makes feel dizzy.

Task 3. Answer the questions put forward to you by the nominating blogger.

Answers to Debora's questions
1.   How often do you feel exposed to dilemmas as an Educator? How do you work them out?
Every so often. My response to a dilemma largely depends on what the problem is. If, for example, some of my students are lagging behind, I try to understand the reason and address it.
2.   What plants and flowers do you have at home?
I have quite a few plants at home but, to be honest, I don't know what they are called. One of my colleagues keeps on giving them to me and I look after them, but haven't even tried to find out what they are.
3.   Have you ever got stuck in an elevator?
Yes, I have. This was a very long time ago. This was 20 or 22 years ago. I got stuck in the lift with two of my friends and before the 'rescue team' arrived, we had spent the time doing homework. I thought it was fun. :)
4.   What is that lovely childhood memory that comes to you every once in a while?
My mum decorating a cake with oranges and tangerines and me secretly eating them off the cake.
5.   If English is not your mother tongue, do you ever need to read subtitles when you watch a movie in English?
I did before, like about 10 years ago. Now I don't need subtitles mainly because the main language of communication for me is English.
6.   What makes you laugh?
Many things and situations. I actually like laughing and can find something funny in everything.
7.   If you could spend a year focusing on research, what would you research? Why?
What effect online/blended learning might have on children diagnosed with so called ADHD. I still doubt the existence of such a thing and I would like to know if these children could cope with learning better in an online mode.
8.   How do you keep track of your digital files?
I save them in Google docs, Dropbox and Diigo.
9.   When was the last time you danced?
On 25 December we were celebrating Christmas in the office. I put some music on and we danced a bit before our lessons started.
10.    Who do you admire and why?
There isn't just one person I admire. I admire those who don't give up if they encounter problems and try to make a difference. Perhaps because I myself don't give up, I dislike it when people break without even trying to do something. 
11.    Are you good at setting goals? Do you follow a certain process to set your goals?
I think I am usually good at setting goal, although I can be too ambitious sometimes, especially when it comes to doing various courses. I might sometimes choose to take more courses than I can actually handle and then try to complete them. There is n certain process, I think I mainly just prioritize the important ones.

Answer's to Sanja's questions (I might be cheating here by answering two bloggers' questions, but  I am trying to save time :) )
1. What are you going to do differently in the new year (at least during the first month)?
I am not sure how successful I am going to be but I am planning to get enough sleep. 
2. If you could get a free ticket to any destination in the world, where would you like to go?
To South America - if I get a free ticket to one of the South American countries, I can make my own way to the others. I would really love to go to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, etc.
3. If you could choose to live all year in one season, would yo choose winter or summer?
I would definitely choose summer, I really dislike winter and the cold weather that goes with it. 
4. What do you find hardest to teach your students?
Assimilated sounds. They find it hard to understand why sounds change, etc.
5. What do you like about the space you teach (your classroom)?
I think my classroom is welcoming and I really like everything about it. I also like the fact that I don't share it with anyone and can design it the way I like.
6. Which is the most important quality you look for in a community of practice you belong to?
The most important quality for me would be the openness of the community members and the readiness to share and cooperate. This is how we develop as teachers, I think.
7. If you weren't a teacher, what would you do?
Not really sure, but perhaps a lawyer as this was my childhood dream.
8. What is the best way to share what you learn about teaching?
Through blogging and Facebook group. 
9. What do you never go to work without?
I don't have to take anything to work, to be honest, as I have everything I need in my classroom. 
10. Can you think about and share one thing that people usually don't know about the part of the world where you live?
The capital city, Yerevan, although very small, has three micro-climates: it might be snowing in the north of the city, raining in the central part and sunny and warm in the south.
11. If Santa was to bring you only one gadget you can use for teaching or in your free time, what would you wish for?
Lenovo Yoga 11 IdeaPad - I have fallen in love with it, although I don't really need one.

Task 4. Nominate 11 bloggers

1. Dora Bozanic
2. Rose Youssef
3. Hakan Senturk
4. Merve Oflaz
5. Elvina Castillo
6. Adam Simpson
7. Silvia Heshiki
8. Sara Rodriguez Arias
9. Kristina Smith
10. Ana Rivas
11. Claudia Carrill

Task 5. Ask 11 Questions.

1. What is your favourite book genre?
2. Which film have you seen many times and can still watch again? Why?
3. If you could choose any country to move to, which country would you choose and why?
4. What's your favourite drink? How often do you drink it?
5. Which English language course book do you like most and why?
6. Which web-based tool do you like most and why?
7. What's the most difficult for you in your job?
8. What's your favourite place in your town/city? Is there any place you dislike?
9. If you could change one thing in your house/flat, what would you change and why?
10. What's your favourite dish? Can you cook it yourself?
11. What don't you have enough time for?

I look forward to your replies!!! :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Web-Based Podcasting Tools

There are different options for creating podcasts, with Audacity being perhaps one of the most popular ones. But because the software looks a bit too complicated, I usually opt for web-based tools available for free.

There are many things an educator can use podcasts for. I mainly use podcasts for various speaking activities as the main aim and listening as the subsidiary aim. This allows my students to practise their speaking skills even more. They can tell stories, or continue each other's stories, etc.

In this blog post, I would like to share some of my favourite podcast tools with you.

AudioPal is the only tool that is interactive, i.e. if an AudioPal recording is embedded into a site, it starts playing automatically as soon as the site loads. So a greeting message or a site introduction message could be perfect. It also allows you to record your message by phone which is a nice option if your mic isn't working very well.

No registration is required and the tool is easy to use. It has record-by-phone, text-to-message, record or upload an MP3 options.

I think the screenshot is pretty self-explanatory.

Chirbit - this site has some nice options: apart from the usual click-to-record to create a podcast option or upload option, it also allows users to convert a Youtube video into a podcast (Chirbit, as it is called on the site) and you can also convert text to audio just like with AudioPal.

It actually takes a very short time to turn a yotube video into a podcast which then can be embedded into a blog or any other site. There is a commenting option, which can be used with students to discuss a Youtube-to-Chirbit talk. Chribits can also be transcribed something that my students enjoy doing. They say that this improves their listening skills and concentration.

Here is an example of a Youtube video turned into a Chirbit.

PodOmatic works more or less the same as the previous ones. With the free account you get 500MB of storage and 15GB of bandwidth a month. So not too bad.

There are many options for sharing the recordings: you can embed the podcast into a blog or a wiki, you can send it to someone's email address, you can share it on many social networking sites. The episodes can aslo be downloaded. So if you are worried about storage, you can just download the episode and then delete it from your podomatic page.

You can also follow other educators and use their recordings, with their permission of course.

Vocaroo - this one is probably the easiest to use. All you need is to go to the website and you are ready to record or upload an audio message.

As you can see, the tool is pretty easy to use. just Click to Record and start speaking.

After you have finished recording, you can listen to it and save or if you dislike it, you can re-record. Then all you need to do is to click save and then you get the options seen on the screenshot below.

You can share the recording, email it to the person it is intended for or simply download it.

The best thing about Vocaroo is that the recordings on the site are not searchable so we don't have to worry too much about privacy.

Voxopop - This tool is the same as the other ones but it is also different in that it is really good for group discussions. A teacher creates a talkgroup and invites students to take part. This could be a discussion of a burning issue or a piece of breaking news. Learners listen to what their teacher has to say, then in the same group they record their own opinions and listen to each other's ideas. Here again we have integrated skills practice: listening and speaking. If the students are required to read the news before they can take part, then they also improve their reading skills.

This is what a talkgroup looks like.

I myself use this tool a lot with my IELTS students. They record their replies and then I record my feedback in the same talkgroup. This makes it easier for each student to track their progress and not get lost in lots of different links.

There are only two drawbacks: 1. the talkgroups are not embeddable, and 2. you do not receive notifications about new posts; you have to log in every day to see if there is anything new or not. Even so, I really like Voxopop.