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My Soundcloud redux at VRT11

I presented at the semi-annual Virtual Round Table Conference for the first time on Soundcloud and thanks to a smooth experience with the technology (after the session began) and an enthusiastic (and supportive) set of attendees, I’m confident I’ll do it again.  The more I attend and especially present at these online conferences, the more I appreciate their value to our profession.  No longer are the days when teachers were restricted to a pricey conference once a year for their professional development (though they still have their place for face-to-face learning).  Now we can gather together online.  For free.

I wasn’t at home so I took my computer to English Central, thinking it’d be easy to just plug in the network cable there and tada, be all ready to go.  Little did I realise that the first attempt would result in me pulling the plug out of the socket causing all computers, cash machine and telephones to go offline.  Ack!  Minor heart-attack.  Wrong day for technology fail.  A coffee and deep breaths later, I recognised my error, plugged everything back and and tried again, this time with success.  Hooray! Though I know the session was recorded and should be put up on the VRT website relatively shortly, I include it here in Issuu format, so no sound, but lovely magazine-like slides to browse through.  Below it, you can find descriptions of the activities I mentioned.


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Session overview

  1. What is Soundcloud?
  2. What are its main features and how are they different from Youtube or Voicethread? (links inside Issuu magazine)
  3. Ideas for listening practice activities (see below)
  4. Ideas for writing practice activities (see below)
  5. Sharing on social media and blogs
  6. Points to consider when using Soundcloud

Listening practice activities

Self-directed dictation – Assign students an audio track to listen to and then give them or have them select sections to listen to specifically and transcribe verbatim in a comment.  After they’ve finished, you can see where they’ve left comments, move the orange indicator to those spots specifically, listen to the audio file and check what they’ve written in their comment at the same time.

Fish in a pond – Identify specific words that you’d like students to listen for (eg. unfamiliar words, word forms of familiar words, phrases, etc) and assign each student two or three.  They go to soundcloud, listen to the entire file and when they’ve found their target language, they leave a comment that says what the language was, or perhaps what it means from context.  It’s best to assign different vocabulary to different students because if they all have the same, then once one finds it and leaves a comment, the others can easily see where it is and don’t have to look themselves.

First letter guide – Pick out a number of vocabulary items from the audio that you think are definitely unfamiliar to students.  Tell them that they need to find, let’s say, 10 unfamiliar words starting with these letters (give them the first letter).  Students need to listen to the track and comment at the point they think they’ve found the unfamiliar word and write the word and it’s meaning from context in their comment.  You go through and check to see if it’s right.

Scavenge for answers – Write out a set of 5 – 10 comprehension and inference questions based on the audio file.  Cut them up so that each student has all the questions, but don’t label the order in which they appear in the audio file.  All students listen to the files at the same time and try to locate the answers to the questions.  When they think they’ve found one, they leave a comment at that spot with both the question rewritten and the answer from that spot.

Writing practice activities

Main point summary – Assign certain sections of the audio file to individual students.  They’re challenged to listen to that section, find the main point and summarise it into a comment at the end of that section.  As an extension, after everyone is done, have them listen to other sections and agree or disagree with their classmates’ comments.

Paraphrasing practices – My students always struggle with and can never have enough practice paraphrasing.  Let students find a couple of sentences from the audio file to paraphrase in their comments.  They should comment at the beginning of the sentence they’ve paraphrased.  As an extension, have other students go to their classmates’ comments, move the orange indicator there, read the paraphrase, listen to the original and then add a comment at the end of the original sentence with a new paraphrase of their own.  Take up with the class about which paraphrase is less plagiarised.  /// Another paraphrasing activity is for you to create 5 paraphrases from sentences in the audio file ahead of time and put them on a handout.  Have students listen to the audio file and when they think they’ve found the part that has been paraphrased, they leave a comment with the paraphrase in it.

The dialogue – Divide the class into As and Bs.  Allow students time to listen to the audio file.  Ask them to think about how they feel about what’s in it and whether they agree or disagree with a point that was made.  Tell the As that you’d like them to post a comment that expresses their opinion about the topic at that point.  After finishing, ask the Bs to find comments and reply to them with their opinions.  This can involve any target language you’ve been teaching or writing subskills, as simple as replies.

Further reading:  Soundcloud for listening practice

Recording of the session:  Soundcloud for listening and writing practice

If you have used Soundcloud for your classes, please let me know!  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  If you’ve blogged about it, I will link your blog post below.  Otherwise, please put your experiences in the comments.  =)
Visit Virtual Round Table Conference

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Marisa Pavan

Hello Tyson!

I enjoyed your presentation and I agree with you on the fantastic opportunity we have for professional development from the comfort of our homes and for free!
How terrible what happened to you just before your presentation and you disconnected all the machines!!! You looked relaxed and as if nothing serious had happened.


Bravo for a clear and apparently cool presentation – I really enjoyed it and I’m certainly looking forward to using Soundclound with my students – who I’m leaving standing for the moment to go to ISTEK and then IATEFL. It’s really great to have the whole recap here – I’m sending it to my collegues in the hope that someone actually gets there before I do… thanks a million


This is really intriguing! I’ve never used SoundCloud, but I will have to go and check it out. Thanks a lot for the info and ideas! I’ll put it on my list of things to try next term!

David Noël

Hey Tyson, we’ve been in touch before via the @SoundCloud Twitter account. Just wanted to quickly let you know we posted about your presentation on our blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Keep up the great work!


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