Monday, July 25, 2011

English UK guide

The English UK guide has been published. I'm visiting Morelia, Mexico again and had the good fortune of sharing a room at Hostal Allende with Jonny Gannon, who recently spent a year studying and teaching in Aguascalientes. When I first arrived at the hostel I heard Jonny speaking to a friend in Spanish and his accent was so good, I asked myself whether he was Mexican. It turns out he has a knack and in turn did an amazing French, Scottish, and then an American  accent. When doing the American accent, he pretended to be Steven, a Boston red-sox fan from Massachusetts, and to my American ears it was flawless. Perhaps to make me feel better about my inferior Spanish accent, he acknowledged that it is his forte and that he's less strong in audio comprehension. (My strength is audio comprehension due to my watching telenovelas and series.) 

Jonny studies Modern Languages at the University of South Hampton and speaks fluent French, Spanish, and German. After a demo he volunteered for the project and we recruited Simran Chadha, a friend of his who was staying at the same hostel. We had a a jolly good time recording the digestive system.

Update 9/20/2012

Johnny now lives in France and is writing a funny blog on his experiences there.

Mandarin Expansion

Some new categories have been added to the Mandarin Guide数字 (Numbers),   面部 (The Face),  身体 2 (The Body II), and 农畜 (Farm Animals). The voice you hear is that of Julie Zhu,  director of director of the Los Angeles Chinese Cultural Center. Julie is orginally from Beijing but has been a longtime resident of Los Angeles. In addition to teaching at the Los Angeles Chinese Cultural Center she teaches at local high schools. There are some other recordings I made with Julie that I hope to publish soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

About the Ads

The board of directors of Language Guide has decided to run ads on portions of the English and French guides to try to fill a budget hole. If you're using these pages in a school environment, send me an email and I'll send you a link that disables the ads. We weren't able to reach our fundraising goal earlier this year which has required the ads. After the budget hole is filled, there are some ideals we're going to try to encourage donations, and we're gong to pursue other funding sources. Our goal is to fund the project through the npr/pbs model - a combination of donations and perhaps underwriters.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interactivity with SVG

If you're using a browser that supports SVG (IE 9chrome, firefox, safari), you'll notice new features on the body page (English body, French body, Russian body, Mandarin body, Japanese body) and face page (English face, French face, Russian face, German face, Italian face).
  • When you place your cursor over a red circle, the portion of the body that is being referred to is outlined. (The effect is most visually appealing in google chrome due to it's great support for SVG filters.) 
  • You can choose the level of difficulty that you prefer using a drop down menu that's next to the options menu. On the body page if you choose an intermediate difficulty, the red circles that refer to the names of individual fingers, the hamstring and shoulder blade disappear. If you choose the beginning difficulty level, you can focus on words like arm, leg, hand, and head. When doing a quiz, you'll only be quizzed on the words that correspond to your chosen difficulty.
  • When "speaking quiz" is selected under the options menu, a random object is outlined. Try to say the word for it aloud. A second or so later you'll hear the voice of your teacher either correcting or confirming your guess. The "speaking quiz" is available on the alphabet and number pages as well as the face and body pages. One of the goals of the site is to promote active learning and the speaking quiz is designed to force you to be active. Voice recognition is being built into browsers like google chrome and eventually I'd like to set up the speaking quiz so that it waits for you to speak before the teacher's voice chimes in, and to even check and see if you said the correct word.

Are these features helpful and would you like to see them in other categories?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spanish of Mexico Guide

A portion of the new Spanish of Mexico vocabulary guide is now available. This past winter I travelled to Morelia, Mexico and did most of the recordings there. (Thankfully the narco siege was over.)

Paula
One of the voices you hear is that of Paula, a teacher at the Baden Powel Institute, a Spanish school in Morelia. You can hear her voice here.

You can also hear my good friend Romelia Núñez Juárez here. Romy is a doctor that works for la cruz roja.
Katia
Finally there is Kathia Jemal who is originally from Morelia but currently works in an art gallery in San Antonio. You can hear her voice here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Italian Guide

Recently a new Italian vocabulary guide was published. One of the voices you hear is that of Giovanni, my hostel roommate in Morelia, Mexico. During our discussion of what we do, I gave him a demo of the project and he volunteered!

Giovanni is a winemaker and world traveler. When it's harvest time in the southern hemisphere, you'll find him in Chile, Argentina, or Australia. When it's harvest time in the north, you'll find him in a vineyard in California or Europe.