Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning/Interaction/Audio with or without Video

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Asynchronous Audio with or without Video[edit]

E-mail with audio and video[edit]

  • mailemotion is a free and easy way to create and send audio/video e-mail.

Voiceboards[edit]

  • Gong is free software that provides voice and text message boards. Gong can be used as a stand-alone system, as a Moodle module, or as a "MiniGong" web recorder.
  • Wimba is commercial software that provides voice and text message board.
  • Moodle Forum Moodle, an open-source website structure, includes a forum module that can include attachments. If an audio file is attached to a post, a flash player will automatically appear on the site to play the audio. This makes it easy for asynchronous conversations that flow in order with replies, pictures of who posted, and structure.

Audioblogs[edit]

Like regular blogs, people can use audioblogs to record their life and their thoughts.

A special feature that AudioBlogger has promoted is the capability of recording vocie messages in one's audioblog via telephone. One can use any phone they have to call a number that the Audioblogger has provided. However, the telephone number isn't a toll free number.

Audioblog.com is another company that provides audiblog service. Users can use webcam to record their voice and image. And then users can post it on the Audioblog.com. However, this service is not free. The monthly membership fee is $4.95.

Podcasting[edit]

Language students can create their own podcasts to be listened to by their teacher and fellow students, as well as by partner (Tandem) teachers and students.

  • Dialcasting is the technique of using a telephone to produce and publish a podcast. The advantage of this approach over other methods for podcasting is that the creator of the voice file doesn't need to be at a computer nor does she need to know how to record audio on a computer.
  • LetsTalk
  • Odeo provides free web-based audio recording, sharing, and listening tools. It is also possible to post audio files via a telephone call, create and manage channels and create and manage podcasts.
  • podOmatic

Synchronous Audio with or without Video[edit]

Telephone to Telephone[edit]

Public switched telephone network[edit]

Free Telephone Service[edit]

  • Futurephone Free international telephone calls to over 50 countries via a toll call to Iowa, USA at +1.712.858.8883. May not be charged an Iowa phone call, depending on your specific US telephone plan. Read about it in the following David Pogue blogs from the New York Times. Apparently no longer available.
  • JAJAH Free Global Calling Plan "The JAJAH Free Global Calling Plan applies to land line and mobile calls to and within the United States; Canada; China; Hong Kong; Singapore and Taiwan and it applies to landline calls to and within Australia; UK; Germany; France; Italy and most other European nations. It applies when both call participants are registered JAJAH users. In countries where free phone calls are not available, or if someone is calling a non-JAJAH member, calls are simply subject to JAJAH’s ultra-low rates" (from website)
  • Call China for Free Call China, Hong Kong and Singapore for free (promotional offer)

Broadband Internet Phone Service (VoIP)[edit]

Many new and traditional telephone companies now offer unlimited local and long-distance calls (domestic and international) for a fixed monthly fee to customers who have a broadband Internet connection.

As the fees charged are typically much less than traditional phone service, VoIP telephone service can be an economical way for users that already have broadband Internet service to practice their foreign languages with partners in other countries.

For example, for user in the United States, BroadVoice offers unlimited calls to 21 countries for $19.95 a month. For $24.95 subscribers can call 35 countries.

Talk About VoIP.com and Voxilla provide forums and useful information about VoIP service.

Before subscribing to a VoIP telephone service, you might want to make sure first that you can transfer your current telephone number to the VoIP service. You should also check if emergency dialing services (such as 911 in the U.S. and Canada) are available. Also keep in mind that unlike a traditional telephone, VoIP service will not work if your Internet connection is interrupted of if you experience a power failure. For these reasons it is a good idea of have a backup landline or cellular service.

Most traditional telephone companies such as MCI and AT&T in the United States now offer VoIP telephone service.

Here you can find a list of VoIP telephone companies and for comparison.

Computer to Telephone[edit]

  • Free World Dialup (FWD) [1]
  • Gizmo Project [2] See below.
  • iConnectHere [3]
  • Skype [4] See below.
  • TalkParade [5]
  • WebPhone [6]
  • 1899.com [7] Free calls to U.K. landline telephones
  • AdCals [8]: Free calls to US and Canada to any home, business or cell phone
  • VoipBuster [9]: Free computer to telephone calls to many countries/
  • Net2Phone [10]: Reportedly works well over busy networks and via dial-up modem.
  • DeltaThree [11]: Reportedly has very good computer-to-telephone performance and good online directory.
  • Applied Language Free Teleconferencing Nationally and Internationally.

Computer to Computer[edit]

All of the following programs allow synchronous text communication between Windows-based PCs and/or Apple Macintosh computers connected to the Internet. Most also provide synchronous audio and video communication as well.

For a review of the use of some of these programs for ATALL, see Cziko and Park (2003) pdf html See also New York Times article on PC-to-phone products and developments

  • Skype [12] Advantages of Skype are that it is cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Pocket PC), has a directory in which users living in selected countries who speak selected languages can be found, and has a video Skype also has a search function to find other members in desired countries speaking desired languages as well as the ability to search for users to who want to be contacted by other Skype users (Skype me). The disadvantages are that it uses a proprietary protocol, does not interoperate with other communication systems, can use bandwidth from connected computers for other calls, does not indicate when the other party is typing when text chatting, stores text chats on the user's local computer, and does not provide an option for audio recording. Starting in May 2006 and continuing until the end of 2006, Skype offers free SkypOut calls from computer to any regular or mobile telephone in the U.S. or Canada. For adding audio recording features to Skype, see Skypecasting. PowerGramo is a free program that allows Windows users to record Skype calls.
    • Skype Journal
    • Skype Companion for Language Learners is a program that helps Skype users find partners for language practice. The software is under active development. It's currently only available for Microsoft Windows, although Skype has announced that the Skype API (which this software uses) will soon be available for Linux and Mac OS X.
  • Google Talk [13]. Advantages of Google Talk are its simple interface and use of Jabber (non proprietary) protocol which makes it interoperable with some other instant message systems, shows when the other party is typing in text chat mode, and stores chat sessions on a central server along with the user's Gmail messages under "Chats". Disadvantages are that it does not have conference call capabiility, does not provide video, and does not allow audio for Macintosh users, and uses must have a Gmail account to use Google Talk. (more information)
  • Gizmo Project official website The advantages of Gizmo Project are that is uses an open source open protocol ( SIP) and therefore is interoperable with other SIP products. It is cross-platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux). Users can also receive free calls as dialed to one of several regular telephone numbers in the U.S. and U.K. (the caller must pay any normal charges incurred for the call). Conference calls with a large number of participants can be made. There are a large number of SIP telephone networks and university telephone systems that can be called using Gizmo. Gizmo also allows instant message communication with over 10 million Jabber system software users worldwide.
  • Windows Live Messenger [17]: beta version; to replace MSN Messenger.There are many advantages to using MSN Live Messenger. First of all it is a completely free program that only takes a downloading. MSN Live Messenger allows people anywhere in the world to interact using synchronous audio or text chatting, with the option of using a webcam. MSN also saves all text chats so people can go back a reference their conversations.
  • Yahoo Messenger (official site). Yahoo Messenger has the option of joing language specific chat rooms once the program is up and running. The user needs to select the "Messenger" drop window, select "Yahoo Chat," and then select "Join a room." Once the room list has been populated, the user needs to select the "Cultures & Community" folder followed by the sub-folder "By Language." Once this category is visible, it is possible to select a chat room in French, Spanish, Italian to name a few. It is also possible to use video and sound when chatting in the room. It should be mentioned that some of the content in these chat rooms can be of a vulgar nature, so users need to be prepared to hear or read such words/expressions. However, the positive benefits of hearing native speakers and possibly watching them on their webcams (if they allow you to watch them) is a great way to personalize L2 learning.
  • Gizmo (official site). Unlike the other synchronous voice communications programs listed here, Gizo uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard so it can communicate with other voice over IP (VOIP) products. Like Skype, Gizmo lets you call other Gizmo computer users for free and also lets you call (and receive calls from) regular telephones located anywhere in the world for a per-minute charge (although usually much cheaper than regular long-distance phone calls) For Windows and Macintosh with Linux version promised soon.

See also:

VoIP USB-Telephone Adaptors (USB to RJ11)[edit]

VoIP USB-telephone adaptors allow you to connect VoIP systems such as Skype, Google Talk and VoipBuster to your regular telephone system. This allows to do things such as:

  1. Use your regular home telephone system to receive and make VoIP calls from your computer.
  2. Call your home telephone number from your mobile (cellular) phone to place a call from your computer or to another phone (thus avoiding high mobile-phone international long-distance toll charges)
  3. When travelling abroad, you can use a computer VoIP call to connect to your home telephone and call your local calling area, again avoiding international long-distance charges
  4. Connect a cordless phone base station to your computer, allowing you to use use your cordless phone to make and receive Voip calls via your computer.

One source of VoIP USB-telephone adaptors in the U.S. is von-phone, offering two models. The AU-600 allows you to record your calls on your computer, but works only with Skpe on Windows. The B2K does not offer call recording, but can be used with both Windows and Linux using Skpe and with Windows using Google Talk, VoipBuster, Net2Phone, X-TenMate and SJPhoneMate for SJPhone.