Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Speakingpal - Guest post Elaine Hirsch

Elaine Hirsch is a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult for her to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites, including mine, and is writing about all these things instead.

Here she is writing about a mobile phone app called Speakingpal. Whilst I'm not particularly endorsing the product, the concept is the tip of the iceberg. This article demonstrates how mobile technology will, in the future, assist the autonomous language learner in their quest for self guided learning.

Tutor 2.0: Speakingpal Revolutionizes Interactive Online Education

For those in the education sector, the 21st century is an equally exciting and challenging
time to be alive. Communication and information technologies are simultaneously making
life easier for educators and threatening their livelihood in some ways. With so much free
information floating around the web, teachers in K-12 to master's degree programs can
feel somewhat superfluous at times. Mobile applications like Speakingpal in particular are
changing the face of education like never before.

What Is Speakingpal?

Available on both the iOS and Android OS platforms, Speakingpal is a virtual tutor that
teaches users the basics of English vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Knowledge
of the English language is considered a must for global commerce. As the lingua franca
of the Internet and a commonly-spoken tongue for over 2 billion people, being fluent
in English is a valuable skill. Speakingpal helps them to do that in fun, easy, 2 minute
increments. It gives users the ability to interact with a virtual training partner which
grades them on how well they complete specific phrases in quick conversation sessions.

Price and Features

Speakingpal is a polished, ground-breaking application which comes at an affordable
price. While the mobile application is free to download, you'll need to purchase a three-
month subscription for $14.99 to get access to sample conversations to practice with.
The biggest selling point for Speakingpal is its vibrant community, which encourages
sharing and collaboration.

Possible Applications

The success of Speakingpal means we'll be seeing more programs like it geared at
learning other languages in the near future. While Speakingpal is a fun and interactive
tool for learning English at your own pace, it's probably not going to replace actual
human tutors anytime soon. Software can be engineered to be quite good at replacing
people for certain tasks, but in this case it's still best to have a live instructor. However,
Speakingpal is the perfect compliment to language classes and can only serve to speed
up the learning process.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to the Internet, education at all levels is changing in ways that people still don't
fully appreciate. With online tools like Speakingpal as well as free tutorials for learning
a wide range of skills, the education sector is bound to become more competitive.
That's actually good news for tutors and educators who can leverage that technology
to their advantage. Software isn't inherently good or bad, regardless of its function.
For dedicated and forward-thinking teachers, it's just another tool that can be used to
enhance the learning experience for their students.

Here's some more of Elaine's work if you are interested in her informative writing.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Wordle of Mantras of a MadMan


I've just updated my Index page to show all my posts in reverse chronological order and then created a Wordle Word Cloud from the labels. The result is really quite satisfying. Please feel free to browse the list of posts here: http://mistermikelcc.blogspot.com/p/index.html
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