Tuesday, June 17, 2008

About the Interactive English Learning Lab

This trip is part of a self-study course I am writing for my MBA, called “Integrating Technology into a Developing Economy’s Educational Curriculum.” One of my major objectives is to leave the school with some resources for teaching the kids to speak English. Understanding English is an important skill to have, as it often leads to some of the best-paying jobs in the country—tourism. The city of Siem Reap is the home of the famous Angkor Wat and surrounding temples, and about a million people come to see them annually. To get a job in one of the luxury hotels that are popping up all over the place, the kids need computer experience and knowledge of English. I want to Establish an Interactive English Learning Lab there in Wat Bo, which offers basic conversational English learning with computer-based software I am writing, complete with audio instruction and commentary in Khmer.

To get jobs in the tourism industry, kids need two skills: computer proficiency, and basic conversational English. The interactive English Learning Lab accomplishes both of those missions. Here is a screen capture of the Interactive English Learning Lab:

Interactive English Learning Lab
All the words, as well as the individual letters, are clickable, and take advantage of the fact that .wav audio files will play directly inside Internet Explorer without any plug-in, visible controls, or delay. So, when someone clicks on a word or a letter, the sound plays instantly, creating an interactive, self-paced learning tool. The sounds are preloaded and embedded in the page, which makes the pages load slowly. There has to be a better way: if any fellow techie out there knows of a better way to play audio interactively on a website, please let me know. Maybe version 2.0 can correct the slow load time...

I realize, as you may, too, that the view you are seeing above is not going to be much help to someone who cannot speak English. I will have a Khmer speaking person translate the directions and those will be provided as audio files as well. The “def” feature you see next to some of the words will be expanded so it appears after every word, and when clicked it will play an audio file that provides a Khmer translation for the English word. I dabbled with printing the words in Khmer script, but that was scrapped when I realized that to turn on Khmer is to turn off Roman letters; the two don’t mix on a computer. (A lesson I learned in a most heart-dropping manner when I attempted to install a Khmer font on my system and all of the sudden I had boxes all over the place instead of English characters! Good thing I am so familiar with Windows dialog boxes and icons because if I wasn’t I would have had to re-format my computer.) So, unless everything is Khmer, it turns into a big mess.

The Interactive English Learning Lab is a web browser-based software, but it runs without Internet connectivity. Ideally, I would have liked it to be a website, but I didn’t want to miss my delivery if the school did not get the DSL connection in time. Furthermore, even if Wat Bo gets the Internet we may not give it to the kids right away, at least not until we can devise a plan to keep them safe from predators. Future editions may run online, but this first edition runs on the computers in the lab at Wat Bo.

1 comment:

VISIONet Digital Language Lab said...


In the world of globalization, English is one of the most powerful tool to get succeed in life. Thus, interactive English learning labs are the best program to get expertise in the language.

English Language Lab | Language Lab Software