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Audacity or Sound Recorder: Pronunciation Exercises and Quizzes

More Ways

Computer(s), USB headsets, audio recording software

Activity Description

Have students use the free audio editing software Audacity or the Sound Recorder available on Windows operating systems to make audio recordings for pronunciation exercises or quizzes or general practice of oral skills. In order to complete this activity using Audacity, you would need to have "administrative rights" (on all the computers your students will use to do their recordings), to download and install software. Or you will need to have your tech people do this in advance. (Snacks for the techs are always a motivator. :-) Otherwise, use the internal Sound Recorder on Windows computers which will work fine too.

Preparation

  1. If using Audacity:
    • Download Audacity  on the computers students will use and familiarize yourself with how to use the program by reading the Audacity tutorials  or view and print the Example Document (above) titled Simple Audacity Directions and make copies for students as needed.
    • Using a USB headset (with microphone), have students follow the directions for recording their voice and saving the audio file. (See Example Document (above).
    • Export the audio file as an mp3 file so that it will be more accessible on more types of computer systems and mobile devices (rather than as a wav file). In order to be able to export audio files created on Audacity to mp3 files, you will need to download the LAME mp3 encoder. Instructions on downloading and installing  the LAME encoder.)
  2. If you use the Sound Recorder on Windows computers:
  3. Test the audio recorder on the computer(s) students will use to make sure that there it will work properly and so that you can anticipate and be prepared for students’ questions and difficulties.
  4. Plan and type out the pronunciation script you will have students read/record, using words, sentences, or a paragraph with the pronunciation focus you intend to teach in class, based on your students’ level, course content (topic, vocabulary, grammar structure), and course outcomes. For example, if you are teaching noun plurals or third person –s, you may want to write a script that includes words that have the three final –s pronunciations. If you are teaching simple past tense, regular verb –ed endings could be the focus. For question formation, intonation could be the pronunciation focus.
  5. Finally, decide how you will have students share the audio file with you (save on the computers’ desktops, as e-mail attachments, etc.

How-To

  1. Once you have planned the pronunciation exercise with a script, have students listen and repeat, practicing in class, and provide feedback. You could have students practice the script in pairs or aloud individually in class.
  2. Another option for additional practice is to record your own voice reading the text with pauses between sections that will give students time to listen and repeat what they hear. Share that audio file with students (have it pre-loaded on the computers’ desktops, share via e-mail as an attachment, upload to a class Web site or Course Management System such as Moodle, or create an account and upload the audio file to a file sharing Web site such as Google Drive , Dropbox , or Box  and share the URL [Web address] for the file with students for downloading), and show them how to download and listen to the file on the computer or mobile devices, using speakers or headphones as needed. Explain to students how to pause, stop, rewind, and replay the file using the media player on the computer or device they are using.
  3. Have students complete the pronunciation exercise or quiz by recording their own voices reading the script using Audacity or Sound Recorder. Provide written instructions and demonstrate for students how to use the audio recorder you have installed on the computers. (For Audacity, see the Example Document, above, "Simple Audacity Directions"). When they finish the recording and are satisfied with their pronunciation, have them save the file and share it with you (using a shared drive in the classroom, a portable USB device, via e-mail to you as an attachment, a shared class Google Drive , or other file sharing site, etc.).
  4. Listen to students audio files, providing feedback on a version of the pronunciation script by highlighting the words or sounds they still need to work on. Return the feedback form. Have students do the pronunciation exercise or quiz again, as desired.

Teacher Tips

  • Alternatively, students could call you and leave a phone message in which they read their pronunciation scripts. See, for example, Google Voice  if you do not want to give out your own phone number to students.

More Ways

  • If teaching EL Civics units or Citizenship, in which students need to answer questions (such as government and history questions for the Citizenship interview), you could create an audio recording of the questions which students need to transcribe.
  • Lower level students could listen to your audio recording that includes basic personal questions (What is your name? Where are you from? What is your address? What is your phone number?).
  • As a follow-up, students could write their answers (and optionally use the audio recording programs to record themselves reading their answers for oral practice).

Documents

Levels

  • Beginning Literacy
  • Beginning Low
  • Beginning High
  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
  • All Levels

Standards

Basic Communication

  • (0.2) Communicate regarding personal information

Basic Communication

  • (2.1) Use the telephone and similar communication systems

Basic Communication

  • (4.6) Communicate effectively in the workplace

Basic Communication

  • (7.4) Demonstrate study skills
  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
  • (7.1) Identify or demonstrate effective skills and practices in accomplishing goals
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.