Tag Archives: Technology

TESOL Convention 2015: ‘Building bridges between online corpora and grammar textbooks’ by Ashley Hew

One of the sessions I attended on Thursday morning after the one on apps and websites for teaching pronunciation, which I described here, was about teaching grammar in EAP settings using academic corpora.

In the workshop we looked at how Michigan Corpus, or the MICUSP, can be used in EAP classes to teach grammar. MICUSP consists only of academic essays written by students at the university of Michigan. Usually there are senior or graduate students and their work has been selected based on their academic achievements. The samples contain both native and non-native English speakers work.


If we compare it to COCA then, the samples are much more limited (i.e. only students work). However, when teaching university students, this might prove to be an advantage since the answers we get will be much more focused and relevant to the students context. MICUSP is also much less complicated to use, especially for students. While MICUSP is only written English, its equivalent of spoken English is MICASE and can be found here. They’re both free to use.

All the activities that Ashley showed us during the session can be found on her blog here.

Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself when preparing activities using MICUSP are:

  • do the samples fit the grammar explanation in the book?
  • dos sts need pre-teaching vocabulary?
  • should I pre-teach any cultural references?
  • should I focus on a particular discipline (e.g. engineering) or have a wider sample?

You can narrow down the search by discipline, NS/NNS, paper type, level, textual features and student level.

Let me and Ashley know if you use any of the activities on her blog or create your own using MICUSP.

TESOL Convention 2015 – ‘Pronunciation through Practice: utilizing apps and the web’ by Amanda Yousuf-Little


One of the Electronic Village presentations I attended this morning focused on 3 apps and 2 websites we can use to help our students practise pronunciation in and outside the class. It was a 20 minutes hands-on practical talk that showed us the basic features and pros and cons of each of the apps and websites. Admittedly, I haven’t had a chance to play with these apps myself, so in writing this post I’m just relying on the notes that I took during the demo and on what I saw then. But if you have, please let me know what you think about these apps in the comments section.


All the apps are apparently only for Android devices. You can find them in the Google Play Store by clicking on the hyperlinks.

k&j app1. K&J app:

It shows you how to produce individual sounds, and gives example words with particular sounds and shows how to produce these. Some of the practice features are spotting the sound that the app says, or identifying the word that the app says

ep speak and listen2. EP Speak and Listen

This app is very good if your students are having trouble pronouncing words that they see written, which is not that uncommon if you think how terribly illogical English pronunciation is. So one of the features is that the student can type in a word they’re not sure how to say and the app will pronounce it for them. The student then can repeat the pronunciation and the app assesses the accuracy.

english pron3. English pronunciation

You can pick any sound you want to work on, and the app shows you the side view of the mouth, air flow, position of tongue, lips, etc.; taking you through the process of producing the sound. Unlike the other apps, you can choose between AmE and BE (when will apps, dictionary, course book writers and ELT in general start including Australian, Scottish, Irish and all the other native and non-native English accents??!!). You can listen to words and record your pronunciation to compare. Also, you can listen to a word and try to spell it phonetically (as you spell the app will pronounce each sound). Alternatively, the word is spelled alphabetically and you have to spell it phonetically.

pron training5. Pronunciation training

Apparently, the lessons are dull. However, the practice part is unique. You listen to a sentence and reproduce it. The app then evaluates you. It can track your accuracy and indicate where you went wrong in the sentence. There are 48 different sentences.

talk to eve6. Talk to Eve

Now this app sounds a bit scary. Basically, you interact with ‘Eve’ alias the app. You can say things to her (whatever you feel like at the moment I guess – leave it to your students’ imagination), and she’ll respond IF… Now here’s the tricky part. Eve will only respond if she understands your pronunciation. Unfortunately, the Internet was down, so we couldn’t really see how it works in practice, but apparently Eve can be quite witty in her responses too. So watch out!


Again, because of technical glitches, we weren’t able to see how the websites work, so if you’ve used them, please comment below.

http://www.lemoda.net/ – great for minimal pairs. The cool thing is it lists words by difficulty for students.

http://vocaroo.com/ – sts record themselves and send the recordings to you. These can be downloaded in different formats