Make Games and Programs for your Students with iSpring

I wanted to introduce you to a fantastic piece of software I have been using over the past year. The software is called, iSpring. It allows you to create presentations in PowerPoint and then convert those presentations into flash and HTML animations, which can be used in class — or uploaded online for students at home.  It is my goal to deliver greater chances for students to interact with English and learn better communication skills. I belive language-learning software can successfully accomplish this. Normally creating software on this level would take years of schooling in computer programming and game development. But with this software, I am able to bring my ideas to life and directly to my students.

Here are two examples of the kind of games and software I have been able to create, using iSpring.

 1) Talk More! English: language software for students 


click on the image to try a demo

This software uses high-quality audio, pictures and animations which are brought to life with iSpring. I am able to take whatever target sentences I want and transform them into living conversations for students to access and review at home.

2) Zombie Ping-Pong

zombie English
click on the image to try a demo

This game uses ping-pong as a metaphor for communication, giving questions the power to drive the ball back and forth. Incorrect responses are signified by “dropping the ball” in the game.

The benefits of this software and these games to my students have been incredible. My students go home and practice English at home and come to me the next day telling me they used my software to teach their younger brother or sister English — or that they finally learned how to say something that just didn’t register for them with the textbook. The link between the work I do and the impact on students has been quite immediate. Using this software has given me the opportunity to make a difference with students and their exposure to English in ways never before imagined.

iSpring is really great for a lot of reasons but the top three reasons for me are as follows.

1)      High-quality audio and image conversions. The same crystal-clear integrity of audio and images I create in PowerPoint is preserved in the flash animations iSpring creates.

2)      Ease of use. The button for converting a presentation is streamlined into Microsoft PowerPoint so I can easily create flash whenever I’m ready. Once the file is finished converting, I can immediately upload it on a website or use it on my computer for class.

3)      Simplification and access to powerful tools. In the past, it would take hundreds of hours of studying computer programming and game design to create the kind of software I’m able to build in PowerPoint. This software opens the world of computer programming to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

I hope that seeing this post will give you some inspiration for creating some software of your own. If you have any questions or you would like to contribute to this project please post your comments below.

How to Teach “Directions” with the New Textbook (Free Material!!)

Many of you may be wondering how to teach the unit on “giving directions” to first grade JHS students this year. This was an activity originally targeted for 2nd year students, but it was moved to the first year textbook, posing a challenge for both students and teachers. So I have prepared a new PowerPoint presentation using Totoro from the famous Japanese cartoon as a way to help introduce and teach this unit to first graders. Click here to download the “Help Totoro!” PowerPoint file now!

Use this PowerPoint to teach 1st grade JHS students how to give simple directions. Click on the link below to download the ppt. file.

Use this PowerPoint to teach 1st grade JHS students how to give simple directions. Click on the link above to download the FREE ppt. file.

Title: Help Totoro!

Purpose: Teach how to give simple directions with a fun back story

Level: 1st year junior high school students

Time: 5-10 minute introduction or review activity

Notes: Read the slide notes for a model script on how to use the PowerPoint

*I used to teach 2nd grade students “giving directions” with a PowerPoint and a story about Ichiro Suzuki looking for Yankee Stadium. Follow the link to see the old PowerPoint.

Speech Accent Archive Rocks!

The Speech Accent Archive houses over 200 examples of accents from around the world. Showing this resource to your students could be a good way to introduce them to the idea of accents. In Japan, teachers tend to unfairly put emphasis on the American way of pronouncing English. Showing students this epic variety of accents can illustrate that accents are normal and interesting. Plus, if you really connect the dots for them, you can also show Japanese students that their own accent isn’t something they need to be embarrassed about. Embrace the differences!! Even if you don’t use this as a classroom material, please check out this amazing archive for yourself.

Click on the image to browse this extraordinary language resource and learning tool.

P.S. ALT♦JTE Conect is back from spring break! With new textbooks and a new school year there will be tons to discuss.