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English As A Second Language

   Table of Contents

Program Title

Publisher

Rating

Instructional Area

Operating System

Software        

12 American Voices

Yale University Press

4

Non-Native/ESL/EFL

Windows Macintosh

8 in 1 English Dictionary

English Computerized Learning Inc.

4

English Dictionary

Windows Macintosh

ELLIS       

CALI Inc.

3.4

ESL Training

Windows

ESL Instant Immersion English

Counter Top Software

3.4

ESOL

Windows Macintosh

Learn to Speak English 8.0

The Learning Company

4

ESOL/ESL

Windows

ESL Intermediate, TOEFL Prep Software

Merit Software

3.7

ESL

Windows

Oxford Picture Dictionary

Oxford University Press

3.3

ESL

Windows

Phonics Alive!  2

Forest Tech./Quick Mind

3

ESOL/ESL

Windows Macintosh

Pronunciation Power 1

English Computerized Learning, Inc.

2.8

ESOL/ESL

Windows Macintosh 

WordAloud

Cloudworld Ltd.

3.5

ESL or Reading

Windows

TOEIC Pronunciation of American English

The Chauncey Group International

3

ESL

Windows

Macintosh

Tell Me More

Auralog

3.9

ESL

Windows

Ace Reader

Stepware Inc.

4

Speed Reading /ESL Reading

Windows

Plato

Plato Learning Inc.

2.9

Reading/Writing/Math/Social Studies/ESL

Windows

Internet Sites

 

 

 

 

Randall’s ESL Listening Lab

Randall S. Davis

3.7

ESL

Internet

Plato on-line

Plato Learning Inc.

3.1

Reading/Writing/Math/Social Studies/ESL

Internet

Dave’s Café

Dave Sperling

3.7

English Language

Internet Connection

Kathy Chareonsup’s ESL Center

Kathy Chareonsup

3.3

ESL and English Review

Internet Connection

Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonists Index

MSN

4

Social Studies / ESL

Internet

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Program Title

12 American Voices

Publisher

Yale University Press

Subject

Non-Native Listening/ESL or EFL Classroom

Level

Low Advance ESL – High Advanced ESL

Program features

Textbook and CD together

Computer Requirements

Windows 95/98 Macintosh 3.5

Price

$24.00

Overall Rating

4  Excellent

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1 = not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:   There are 12 selections on the CD taken from David I Say’s award winning radio stories from National Public Radio.  Each selection or session weaves interviews and narration.  The ESL/EFL student hears a varied range of American dialects.  These are real issues.  Some of the American dialects presented are Chinese-American, African American, Puerto-Rican-American, New Yorker, and middle American.

Navigation and Structure:  It is easy to navigate and users can exit at any point.

Instructional Applications:  The CD used in conjunction with the textbook in excellent.  This well-integrated combination of listening and ext offers a unique experience for the ESL/EFL student.  The interviews and the adult issues transport students from Rock Springs to many aspects of American life. 

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Program Title

8 in 1 English Dictionary

Publisher

English Computerized Learning, Inc.

Subject

English Dictionary

Level

Beginning/Intermediate ESL

Program Features

Audio Components.  Speaking/Recording practice.  Print capability on each screen.

Computer Requirements

Macintosh:  Power PC, 100Mhz or faster; System 7.5.3 or later, 19 MB of available RAM; 800x600 resolution at 16-bit (thousands) of color; 4x CD ROM drive or faster; high quality microphone; speakers; 5MB available disk space.

Windows:  Intel Pentium processor; 100Mhz; Windows 95, 98 and 2000, Windows NT 4; ME, XP; 32MB RAM; 800x600 resolution at 16-bit (thousands) of colors; 4x CD ROM drive or faster; high quality microphone; speakers, 5MB available disk space.

Price

$49.95

Overall Rating

4   Excellent

 Evaluation Scale  (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of Loading Software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:   This program gives the student an opportunity to build vocabulary and practice pronunciation simultaneously.  Options include sound, alphabet, and text.  A person can locate words quickly by inputting all or only part of a word.  Words also appear in simple sentences to demonstrate their use.  Thirty-nine themes are available to help the student focus on one subject at a time.  A teacher in an ESL class as well as a teacher in a foreign language such as Spanish could find many uses for this program.  Its 39 themes open many possibilities, such as working on compass directions and locations, or body parts, and all of these themes can be printed easily and quickly.  With a color cartridge, the teacher could create interesting vocabulary and sentence practice for homework.  This would be especially useful if there are many nationalities in a classroom, and if they are literate in their native languages.

Another application to be emphasized is the ease that a teacher or student can pick up vocabulary and instructions in languages other than English.  Any teacher or student learning one of the 12 other languages might find this program useful.  

Navigation and Structure:   It is easy to navigate and exit at any time.  Changing from one of the 13 languages to another only takes 3 or 4 seconds.  The program is simple to operate.

Instructional Applications:   This is a useful supplement to classroom instruction for ESL students.  It is more than a dictionary; it can be a self-guided tutor for inquisitive students.

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Program Title

Dave’s ESL Café      http://www.daveseslcafe.com

Publisher

Dave Sperling

Subject

English Language for Non-Native Speakers and teachers

Level

High-Beginning through Advanced  ESL

Program Features

A ton of information for language learners and their teachers

Computer Requirements

Internet connection

Price

Free

Overall Rating

3.7   Excellent

Evaluation scale (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

3

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

0

Affordability

4

Content

3

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.7

Description of Content:    Dave’s ESL Café is a collection of information for students of English and teachers of English.  It contains activities, tests, explanations, idiom usage, vocabulary, and teaching ideas.  It has a chat feature where students can talk to other students or to teachers any time there are others willing to chat.  It also contains links to other sites that might be of interest to those using it.

Navigation and Structure:    There is a wealth of information on this site and also a lot of advertisement.  This can be a bit cumbersome, especially for the beginning computer user.  Also, without direction, a high beginning English student could easily get lost and not find a suitable spot to study.

Instructional Applications:    Again, this is an Internet program, so the price is right.  The only cost would be due to being suckered into some of the many ads available to you.  I enjoy looking at the teaching ideas and explanations for different grammar points or word usage.  My students have copied off idioms and practiced making sentences and dialogues using them.  They then can be the teacher and teach their new vocabulary to the rest of the class.  I have also found answers to some of my own grammar questions and the site gives you examples to use when teaching a particular point to students. 

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Program Title

ELLIS English Training Software

Publisher

CALI INC.

Subject

ESL Training

Level

Beginner to Advanced ESL

Program features

Reading, listening, speaking, and grammar by using video clips, pronunciation (animated placement of tongue and sound origin graphics), voice recognition and recording to compare sounds, help features that explain all of the different functions

Computer Requirements

OS Windows 95, 98, NT 4, 2000  

Pentium 133 or faster

64 MB memory recommended

SVGA video – 16 bit color

SoundBlaster compatible

4x or faster CD-ROM

Requires MS Active Movie or IE 4.0 or better

Price

Price varies, call  801-756-1011

Overall Rating

3.4  Good

 Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

3

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

3

Affordability

2

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.4

Description of Content:    This software is designed to help ESL students with an advanced beginner English background to improve skills, attain cultural education, and learn practical skills.  The Placement testing allows evaluation of the student so he/she can be placed in the appropriate level, whether it is Introductory or Advanced Mastery.  The content and graphics are appropriate for traditional as well as non-traditional ages.

Navigation and Structure:    The program is fairly easy to navigate.  It would help if the buttons had a mouse rollover message to identify each one until the student is comfortable.  When playing the video clips they cannot be stopped with any of the buttons, which makes it a little more time consuming if only one part was needed, however, the repetition allows for faster learning.

Instructional Applications:     An instructor can set up the students in the class with ease.  Students have to be in the system before they can use the program.  It is very useful in preparing reports to evaluate individual and collective progress.  The ELLIS program also provides a good background for ESL students to continue on to an advanced level and acquire additional understanding that will aid in preparing for the COMPASS testing and required tests for international students.

Additional Comments:

Had some problems installing and running in a Windows 2000 environment, but it worked just fine in Windows 98.  

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Program Title

ESL Instant Immersion English

Publisher

Counter Top Software, Redmond, WA

Subject

ESL

Level

Beginner – High Intermediate ESL

Program Features

Audio and speaking and recording components

Computer Requirements

PC:  Windows 95/98/2000,NT; 100MHz or faster; 32 MB RAM; 5MB HD; 800x600 Resolution at 16-bit of colors; 4x CD-ROM drive or faster, speakers, mouse, microphone.

Macintosh:  PowerPC; 100MHz or faster; System 7.5.3 or later, 32 MB RAM; 5MB HD; 800x600 resolution at 16-bit of colors; 4x CD-ROM drive or faster; speakers; mouse; microphone.

Price

About $29.95; sale $16.99

Overall Rating

3.4  Good

 Evaluation Scale  (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of Loading Software

4

Affordability

4

Content

2

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.4

Description of Content:   Two of the four disks have interactive English lessons that require considerable English knowledge before one ever begins.  Feedback is instantaneous and student records are kept automatically by the program and students have quick reinforcement.  Disk 3 is Speech Solutions and contains drills in sounds, words, and sentences.  Students are asked to discriminate words they hear in a sentence, for example, “Would you be willing to weed/weld that?”

Because of the advanced level of English knowledge required, two of the disks would not be useful to beginning students.  It is touted as an “immersion program,” but it is immersion in a very advanced crowd with a sizable vocabulary.  There are many user-friendly qualities about the program, but it is boring, difficult for beginners, and leaves much to be desired.

Navigation and Structure:   It is easy to navigate through the program and exit any time.  Each time one chooses to go to a different exercise, one can hear a click that indicates there will be a quick movement to the next activity.  The student may select American or British English.  “Teacher’s Records” are easy to access.  Disk 4 is the 8-in-1 English Dictionary, which is veritably a program to be assessed separately.  All disks are easy to install and they are quick. 

Instructional Applications:  This program could be used for basic pronunciation drill or practice for advanced students. 

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Program Title

Kathy Chareonsup’s ESL Center

Publisher

Kathy Chareonsup  http://members.aol.com/eslkathy/esl.htm

Subject

ESL and English Review

Level

Beginning – High Advanced ESL

Program Features

Great variety

Computer Requirements

Internet access

Price

Free if AOL member

Overall Rating

3.3   Good

 Evaluation Scale  (scale 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of Loading Software

0

Affordability

0

Content

3

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

0

Average

3.3

Description of Content:    There are links for ESL teachers that have endless possibilities.  First choices offered the teacher or student are Lesson Plans, Games & Activities, ESL Resources, More Lesson Plans, Services & Useful Stuff, Journals & organizations, Publishers and Bookstores, and much more.

 It could take pages to describe what is available on this website.  The only caveat would be the level indicated for some of the worksheets.  Some of my beginning students would definitely not be able to understand or complete some of the worksheets that are labeled as “beginning student.” 

Navigation and Structure:   Games & Activities, for example, contains 11 choices.  Pizzaz begins with a description of the activity and ESOL student level, which is beginner through advanced.  The next step is going to Poetry with 11 kinds of poems students could write such as a 3-line Haiku.  If this is a choice, then one has 23 website links for Haiku poems if one does not know how to write them.

Other activities I looked at were Flash Quizzes for English Study, which is another form of activities for ESL students, which has 34 Easy Questions.  An exercise on colors was good.  Fine tuning one’s understanding of use of a versus an before a noun is one of the typical work sheets.  Typing in contractions was a good exercise also. 

Instructional Applications:   This is a very good source for ESL instructors!  This connection gives an instructor many, many options for all levels of students. 

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Program Title

Learn to Speak English  8.0

Publisher

The Learning Company

Subject

ESL

Level

Beginning to Advanced ESL

Program Features

Audio Components.  Practice and record speech.  Ease in moving about.  Progressive lessons from very basic.  Internet linked.

Computer Requirements

Windows IBM and compatibles.  Pentium 90 MHz or better, Widows 95 with 16 MB RAM; Windows 98 with 16 MB RAM, 256-color SVGA, Windows—compatible sound card.  (Internet Link is an option for one section.)

Price

Version 8.1 is $19.99

Overall Rating

4   Excellent

 Evaluation Scale  (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of Loading Software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:   This program consists of pronunciation, basic course, business course, internet lessons, and cultural movies.  The student receives instant feedback relating to pronunciation or correct answers.  One response is a gauge with a moving needle that indicates a person’s response between tourist and native speaker.

Definitely good software for beginning to intermediate ESL students.  It has good survival skills for everything from asking directions to visiting an attorney.  The game—Go Fish—could be difficult if one is not familiar with the game or could not read the English instructions.  Occasionally the English instructions are lengthy and require a large vocabulary—perhaps they are intended for the teacher and not the student.  The accompanying user’s guide is simple and helpful to the instructor.  The workbook is a good grammar book, and it is full of action dialogues that would be useful in the classroom.

If their foreign language programs are as good as this one, it behooves one to make an investment in one of them. 

Navigation and Structure:   Pretests help a student choose an appropriate lesson.  Cultural movies give a student practice in vocabulary and comprehension.  Sound is excellent even with cheap headphones. 

Instructional Applications:   Students of various English-speaking abilities could benefit from this program.  A new student, who could go to the computer lab, but not to a class on a regular basis, would definitely benefit from this program.  It is progressive from the very basics and does not get boring.  Conversational programs require an active response from the student and a real response to his or her statement and an actual reply is given back to the student. 

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Program Title

ESL Intermediate, TOEFL Prep software bundles

Publisher

Merit Software

Subject

ESL

Level

Low Intermediate to High Advanced ESL

Program features

Language training and TOEFL Test Preparation

Computer Requirements

Windows (9x, ME, NT, 2000)

5 MB of RAM

200 MB Hard Disk space

Minimum screen resolution of 800x600 pixels

Price

There are many options to choose form (separate programs or bundled software).  The bundled software allows for lower pricing for a combination of products.  The prices listed are the average for bundles.  Individual pieces may range from $27.00 (Home version) to $2199.00 (site license)

 

 

Configuration

Price

Multi-user Enabled*

1 Station: Stand-alone

$1,200.00

Yes

5 Stations: Networkable

$2,900.00

Yes

10 Stations: Networkable

$5,800.00

Yes

30 Stations: Networkable

$11,600.00

Yes

Site License: Networkable

$17,700.00

Yes

Home Version

$299.00

No

*Home Versions keep records for two users only. 1 Station: Stand-alone version keeps records for 42 users.  Network versions keep records for 1000 users.

Overall Rating

3.7  Excellent

 Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

2

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.7

Description of Content:    English grammar, writing, and vocabulary taught and explained (ESL Intermediate)  Covers the skills that students learning English need for success in American colleges and universities and passing the required English test (TOEFL Prep). 

Each software bundle includes:

ESL Intermediate

2002 Basic Skills Pack (Comprised of the following three curriculum components: Reading / Vocabulary, Writing / Grammar, and Mathematics)

TOEFL Prep

2002 Language Arts Bundle for College Prep (Covers language arts competencies necessary to prepare a student for college level work. Contains a wide variety of teaching activities effective in increasing a student's reading, vocabulary, writing, and grammar skills. Texts and formats designed for older students) 

Navigation and Structure:    Windows-based, easy to navigate menus. Self-paced tutorials allow the student to choose the lessons that advance as they demonstrate readiness.  The right answer must be given in order to move on, and the program keeps track of the overall points. 

Instructional Applications:    This type of software can be used for Adult Learning, High School instruction and ESL students.  One nice feature for the use of instructors is the Teacher Program Manager (TPM). The TPM allows teachers to manage all student records in one place, monitor students' progress, and view and print details of individual students or classes. 

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Program Title

The Oxford Picture Dictionary Interactive

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Subject

English Language for Non-Native Speakers

Level

Beginning to High Advanced ESL

Program Features

12 Units, 128 topics, variety of activities, games, tests, recording feature

Computer Requirements

IBM – 80486 or Pentium system

16MB RAM (32MB preferred)

Windows 95 or later

Graphics/Monitor: sVGA or higher, 640 x 480, 256-color mode

Price

$150.00

Overall Rating

3.3  Good

Evaluation scale (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent) 

User Friendly

3

Interesting Interface

3

Ease of loading software

3

Affordability

2

Content

4

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.3

Description of Content:    The Oxford Picture Dictionary Interactive CD-Rom compliments the Oxford Picture Dictionary.  It uses the same pictures as the book to demonstrate a word or phrase.  Students will see the same symbols used in both the book and the CD-Rom.  Along with giving spelling and pronunciation for each word or phrase, this program incorporates interesting activities and games to further reinforce the usage, spelling, pronunciation, and etc. of more than 3700 works. 

Navigation and Structure:    Once a student becomes familiar with this program’s features, getting in and out of activities is easy.  We chose to have students save their information on their own student disk, a 3 ½ floppy.  They must come up with a password to access their past work, but they can print reports for the teacher to see what they have worked on and how they did at tests or other activities.  Keep in mind that the student disk will become full and a new one will be needed periodically.  You will know when you need a new disk when you begin getting errors every time you try to open the program.

The biggest problem my students have had initially is in viewing the contents of each page using the scroll bar and mouse.  Because each page is the same as the book pages, they are too big to fit entirely onto the computer screen.  Because of this the student must learn to use the horizontal and vertical scroll bars to navigate around the frame.  This is tricky at times and slow for some students not used to this method.  We must spend time initially going over, several times for some students, the proper way to view the entirety of each page.

Another problem we have run into has to do with Windows 2000.  With Windows 98 we had been inserting the CD and waiting for a prompt to insert the student 3 ½ floppy.  However, when our computers were upgraded we would get an error message after insertion of the CD.  We discovered that if we put the student disk in before entering the program we could use it without problems. 

Instructional Applications:  This is a great reinforcement tool to use in conjunction with the Picture Dictionary.  Students also enjoy coming in during their free time to use this software in the lab.  Once they become familiar with the features it is easy enough for them to get in and out of it themselves and to study the vocabulary that they are in need of using.  It is limited as far as the pronunciation component because it only records.  It does not give you any idea if your pronunciation is close to that of the speaker.  It is also limited in the amount of dialogue practice it gives, so to be the only form of instruction, it may not be the best choice.   

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Program Title

Phonics Alive! 2

Publisher

Forest Technologies/Quick Mind

Subject

ESL

Level

Begging – High Advanced ESL

Program Features

Audio and record-keeping components

Computer Requirements

Windows:  A PC 486DX or faster IBM compatible running Window 3.11 or Windows 95 with SVGA display set at 256 colors, 8 Mb RAM, double speed CD-ROM player.  Monitor set to 640x480 pixels and 256 colors.

Macintosh:  A Macintosh 68040 or faster running System 7 or higher, with 8 Mb RAM, double speed CD-ROM player.

Price

$49.95

Overall Rating

3   Good

 Evaluation Scale  (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

3

Ease of Loading Software

2

Affordability

3

Content

2

Age Appropriate

3

Sound

4

Average

3

Description of Content:   This program teaches beginning, middle, and ending sounds of English.  Students practice sound blending, and they learn to say words in the various categories.  Because of the many blends in English, there are many opportunities (5 ½ hours) for practice.  Students can practice the blends and words, but there is no voice-recording feature on the program.  Pictures are animated, and exercises move at a fairly slow pace.

Although this program is advertised for helping students in grades 3 through 10, it has application for adults in ESL as well.  The program seems to move slowly, but this can be an advantage to beginning ESL students who need time to think about the sounds that are being formed and how to spell the words associated with them.  All of the pictures are cartoon characters, but they would not be demeaning to adults in an ESL, GED, or basic reading program.  With initial guidance from an instructor, this could be a useful ancillary program for ESL instruction.

Navigation and Structure:   Moving through the program is simple, but installing the CD and the score recording feature takes some time.  Much of the program is set up in game form, for example, “Identify a word before the bubbles burst in the undersea picture.” 

Instructional Applications:   ESL students who are struggling with fundamentals of English sounds and blends could benefit immensely.  Particular sounds or blends that are giving a student considerable difficulty can be easily found on one of the main menus.  Learning basic rules of phonics will help adults as well as youth to apply this knowledge to other words they will be adding to their vocabulary.

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Program Title

Pronunciation Power 1

Publisher

English Computerized Learning, Inc.

Blackstone Multimedia Corporation

Subject

ESL

Level

Beginner to High Intermediate ESL

Program Features

Audio Components.  Recording and playback feature.

Computer Requirements

Windows:  Intel Pentium Processor, 100Mhz; Windows 95, 98, 2000; Windows NT 4 32MB RAM; 800x600 resolution at 16-bit of colors; 4x CD-ROM drive or faster; high quality microphone; speakers; 5MB available disk space.

Macintosh:  Power PC 100Mhz or faster, system 7.5.3 or later; 20MB of available RAM; 800x600 resolution at 16-bit; 4x CD-ROM driver or faster, high quality microphone, speakers, 5MB available disk space.

Price

$144.95

Overall Rating

2.8   Good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluation Scale  (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent) 

User Friendly

2.5

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of Loading Software

2

Affordability

3

Content

2

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

2.8

Description of Content:    This software is prepared for beginning and intermediate English as a Second Language students.  There are mainly four parts to the student activities:  Lessons, Exercises, Dictionary, and Games.  The section on Lessons gives a student practice in the 52 basic English sounds.  The student can view a graphic representation and movement for each sound and also a partial face of a lady pronouncing the sounds.  In the Exercise section the student can listen to an expression like “He is kind,” and then record it and listen to his or her own recording.  The Dictionary has pronunciation and use of the words, but no definition, just pictures where possible.  The Games section is about word matching, that is, matching what one hears to a picture on the screen.

Hearing sounds and words pronounced, and then recording and listening to one’s own voice offer many advantages to the self motivated.  The Exercises do help the non-native speaker to hear the rhythm and intonation of English.  The Dictionary section is quite functional, and the Games were rather contrived, although verbal encouragement to the user was good. 

Navigation and Structure:   Navigation takes some instruction and patience.  An advantage may be that 12 different languages may be accessed for instructions.  Students will need assistance for a time in understanding the many options if they have not had some computer experience already. 

Instructional Applications:    Students who are motivated to improve their English pronunciation could benefit from the program if they have time outside a structured class.  Building vocabulary would be a plus. 

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Program Title

Randall’s ESL Listening Lab

Publisher

Randall S. Davis  www.esl-lab.com

Subject

English Language for Non-Native Speakers

Level

Beginning Literacy - High Advanced ESL

Program Features

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced recorded dialogues for students to listen to and do activities with.

Computer Requirements

Internet connection, Real Player 8.0 (free one)

Price

Free

Overall Rating

3.7  Excellent

 Evaluation scale (scale score  0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

2*

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.7

**Downloading Real Player can be tricky

Description of Content:   Randall’s ESL Listening Lab is a collection of dialogues that students must listen to and then answer comprehension questions.  It allows them the opportunity to listen as many times as they wish, with or without the script.  After completing the comprehension quiz they can move on to a cloze passage that uses a portion of the script dialogue.  Topics are interesting and useful for students with a variety of speakers of different ages and accents. 

Navigation and Structure:   Once the Real Player is installed, this Internet site is easy to navigate through.  The home page lists all the choices in the three levels, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced.  The student simply points to the topic they want to hear and click.  Usually in a matter of seconds they will hear the passage.  They may choose “Play audio only” or “Play with script”.  Each dialogue has a similar comprehension quiz format with the ability to check answers by viewing the correct answers.  It also gives explanations on some of the answers.  Then it prompts you to go to the cloze passage and again gives you the opportunity to check your responses with theirs.   

Instructional Applications:    What I like most about this program is that it is free and students can access it anywhere they can access the Internet and have Real Player or the ability to download it.  They enjoy the conversations they hear and try to imitate the speakers’ usage of new words.   The pre and post listening activities give the teacher a way to incorporate what they hear into a lesson in a classroom set up.  It also allows for writing and conversations to incorporate into the lesson.  Students can discuss the voices they heard and decide if there is a colloquial accent of any kind or if the speaker may be of a certain generation. 

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Program Title

Tell Me More

Publisher

Auralog

Subject

ESL

Level

High-Beginning - High Advanced ESL

Program Features

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced activities including video, dialogues, and exercises.

Computer Requirements

IBM PC or Compatible: 486 DX4 100 MHz or higher, Windows 95 or higher, 8 MB RAM or higher, 30 MB available on hard disk, 2X CD-ROM drive or better, 16-bit Windows compatible sound card, SVGA video card (640X480 resolution with 256 colors or higher), microphone, and speakers or headphones (included).

Price

$29.95

Overall Rating

3.9  Excellent

 Evaluation scale (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

3

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

3.9

Description of Content:   Transparent Language has crammed a lot into an affordable package.  There is video that introduces the vocabulary and topic along with dialogue where the student must choose a response and speak it in a recognizable voice.  The computer then can tell the student if the response is acceptable.  Each topic has a variety of exercises.  These include scrambled sentences, crossword puzzles, matching, fill in, etc.  My only criticism involves the content.  At time it seems contrived and doesn’t always sound like natural English usage. 

Navigation and Structure:   The icons on the main menu take you to all the features of this program.  They are quite appropriate and easy to figure out without translation, however, translation is available in the native language if needed. 

Instructional Applications:   This program is one we offered for our students to purchase for their home computers as well as for use in the lab.  It is so affordable that many of our students with computers at home opted to buy it to give them extra practice at home.  It comes with a headset and microphone so as long as the computer has recording ability it worked well for most students.  After a student finishes a topic a report can be put on the screen that shows how the student did.  It not only shows if they completed it but also if they were successful on the first try or if it took them repeated tries.   

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Program Title

TOEIC Pronunciation of American English

Publisher

The Chauncey Group International – a subsidiary of ETS – Educational Testing Service

Subject

American English Pronunciation for Non-Native Speakers

Level

Low Intermediate – High Advanced ESL

Program Features

Video and diagrams to assist students in using correct mouth shape and tongue movement, a variety of exercises to check understanding of stress, intonation, and rhythm

Computer Requirements

IMB- At least a Pentium 133 mhz or faster with 16+ megabytes of memory, 4X CD, and a t least 8-bit color depth.  The computer should be multimedia enabled with speakers and a microphone installed and functioning.  QuickTime of Windows must be installed (included).  Macintosh compatible as well.

Price

$74.95

Overall Rating

3   Good

 Evaluation scale (scale score 0=not applicable, 1=not recommended, 2=fair, 3=good and 4=excellent)

User Friendly

3

Interesting Interface

3

Ease of loading software

3

Affordability

3

Content

3

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

2

Average

3

Description of Content:   Each chapter has a video presentation that introduces the main points.  The student can follow along with the speaker as the text is contained on the page.  After listening to the explanation, the student is walked through a variety of exercises for practice, both orally and auditory, as well as applying their new knowledge by adding their own words that follow the same pattern in pronunciation. 

Navigation and Structure:   This program has a pretty straightforward way of getting at the information and exercises.  The main menu gives the student choices as to the chapter they want to study.  Most everything is written out for students to follow along.  There is some choice for explanation in other languages.  This could be helpful, especially when some concepts are not clear.  

Instructional Applications:   There is a pretest the students can take that has them fill in the blank with personal information and then they read it and record their voice.  When they have completed the program they can then return to the pretest and again read and record their voice.  In this way they can see and hear the progress they have made.  There is also a full workbook with written activities that could easily be incorporated by an instructor as follow-up to the computer work.  This would be a handy way for an instructor to see how a student was doing with the program and a way to check their pronunciation. 

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Program Title

WordAloud

Publisher

Cloudworld Ltd

Subject

Assistive reading program

Level

ESL or Reading Disability

Program features

Ability to read any text or html file on the computer

Computer Requirements

The program runs on Windows 95, 98 and Windows ME, and requires,
100 MHz CPU or greater
4.5 megabytes of free hard drive space
16 megabytes of RAM.

Price

$ 44.95 for a personal copy

Overall Rating

3.5   Excellent

 Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3=good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

3

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

0

Sound

2

Average

3.5

Description of Content:   This review is based on a trial version of WordAloud.  It came with an excerpt of the book “Alice in Wonderland” as a html file.  It also has detailed instructions in the Help file.  More content can be added to use with any text or html files as needed. 

Navigation and Structure:   This program comes with a range of customizable options. For instance, you can change the background and text colors of the display. You can change the font, and the font size of the text, and the speed at which the text is displayed. As well, WordAloud comes with a wide selection of voices, both male and female, to choose from. As well, the reader's voice can be tweaked by changing its speed, volume, and pitch. WordAloud also comes with two very handy files, a demonstration module that shows you some of the uses of the program, and a help file that teaches the first time user how to set up and use the program.

WordAloud is easy to use. You simply open the program, select the file you want to read, open it, and select the 'play' button. As the text is read, it is displayed, one word at a time. You can elect to have the program pause after each word; this option requires that you click on the forward button to proceed to the next word. You can also have it read one full sentence before it pauses, or you can set it not to stop until the entire file is read. The program can also be 'told' to spell out a given word in the text, which it will do, one letter at a time. You also have the option of pausing the reading at any point, and you can move forward and backwards within the text that you are reading. As well, if you are using the 'text' only option and come across a word that you cannot read, all you need do is pause the program and have it read the word to you. 

Instructional Applications:    People with special needs (dyslexia, visual impairment, or other problems reading text from the computer).  Also it wound be helpful to ESL students in reading and pronunciation. 

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Program Title

Plato

Publisher

Plato Learning Inc.

Subject

Read, Write, Math, Social Studies, Life/Career, ESL

Level

Beginning Literacy – High Adult

Program features

Audio, Management system, Print rec, password, customize

Computer Requirements

Windows 95/98, Win NT 4.0/2000, CD-Rom

Price

Price varies, call 1-877-517-5280

Overall Rating

2.9   Good

 Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

2

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

2

Average

2.9

Description of Content:    This software is designed to improve the knowledge and grade levels of students form K-Adult.  It covers a wide variety of subjects from ESL, Language, Math and Reading, to Social Studies, Science, Calculus, and Life and Career skills.  The program is knowledgeable and easy to read and use for the student.  There are tutorial sections that explain and apply basic concepts in addition to mastery tests.  If mastery tests are not passed, a new set of tutorial and mastery test questions are provided.  

Navigation and Structure:    The structure is fairly easy for the learner to navigate.  The programs provide encouragement and “kudos” for success by literally placing gold stars by assignments successfully completed.  Both half and full shaded boxes are placed next to assignments to help students keep track of completed assignments.  Feedback and hints are provided immediately after each question in the assignment.

The management system is quite entailed and requires some study to implement.  Assignments can be as classes or individual and can be a whole curriculum or set-up as bits and pieces. The reports show current use, time on task, grades, and mastery levels. Programs can be designed based on TABE (and other) conversion scores to provide individualized study. 

Instructional Applications:    This program can be used as a supplement for class instruction and is ideal for main study in a lab situation.  A program can be designed for each individual based on needs.  This is especially useful to an instructor with students at varying levels of proficiency.  This program is very conducive with students who prefer to use the computer.  This courseware will align with several standardized tests (i.e. TABE & others) so individual plans can be developed. 

Notes of concern:

The beginning English curriculum has some assignments that are bothersome to students because the talking section is slow and they cannot move easily to the next screen.

The Trigonometry curriculum is not ideal for self-instruction, but would be good combined with class instruction. 

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Program Title

Plato - Online

Publisher

Plato Learning Inc. www.plato.com

Subject

Read, Write, Math, Social Studies, Life/Career, ESL

Level

Low ABE- College Prep.

Program features

Audio, Management system, Print rec, password, customize

Computer Requirements

Internet Access, Win 95/98/00, CD-ROM

Price

$300/per access computer, per year – existing customers

Overall Rating

3.1  Good

Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

2

Average

3.1

Description of Content:   This program is designed the same as the Plato stand-alone and network systems, except you access the program through the Internet.  The software is designed to improve the knowledge and grade levels of students from K – Adult.  It covers a wide variety of subjects from ESL, Language, Math and Reading, to Social Studies, Science, Calculus, and Life and Career skills.  The program is knowledgeable and easy to read and use for the student.  There are tutorial sections that explain and apply basic concepts in addition to mastery tests.  If mastery tests are not passed, a new set of tutorial and mastery test questions are provided. 

Navigation and Structure: The structure is fairly easy for the learner to navigate.  Assignments are chosen by the instructor and can be assigned as a class or individually.  Students would go through programs as they would regular Plato tutorial applications and mastery tests.  There is a status legend that lets students know if they have completed a section or if they have been locked out of a mastery test until they take the tutorial again.  The status legend also lets a student know if they have started a program or mastered it.  The status is located next to the assignments and is represented by an empty circle (not started), a half filled circle (in progress), a full circle (completed), a gold star (mastered), and a red lock (locked).

The management system is the same as for regular Plato. It is quite entailed and requires some study to implement. The reports show current use, time on task, grades, and mastery levels. Programs can be designed based on TABE (and other) conversion scores to provide individualized study. 

Instructional Applications:   This program can be used as a supplement for class instruction and is ideal for main study in a lab situation.  A program can be designed for each individual based on needs.  This is especially useful to an instructor with students at varying levels of proficiency.  This program is very conducive with students who prefer to use the computer.  This courseware will align with several standardized tests (i.e. TABE & others) so individual plans can be developed. 

Notes of concern:

The beginning English curriculum has some assignments that are bothersome to students because the talking section is slow and they cannot move easily to the next screen.

The Trigonometry curriculum is not ideal for self – instruction, but would be good combined with class instruction.  

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Program Title

Ace Reader

Publisher

Stepware, Inc.

Subject

Speed Reading (ESL reading, non-native reading)

Level

Low ABE- GED

Program Features

Save, Download, Drills, Bookmarks, Multi-Levels, Diagnostic Reading Tests

Computer Requirements

Windows 95/98 2000/XP OS Support, Macintosh OS support

Price

$566 for 10 computers

Overall Rating

3.9  Excellent

 Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1 = not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of Loading Software

4

Affordability

3.5

Content

4

Age Appropriate

4

Sound

0

Average

3.9

Description of Content:    ACE Reader calls itself, "a productivity and self-improvement reading tool."  It is a multi-level speed reading computer program that can also help ESL students, dyslexic learners and the visually impaired.  This is accomplished with diagnostic tests, comprehension tests, eye games, adjustable speed, various colors of text and adjustable size of text.  The Deluxe Network package is designed for reading labs where students do not need to sit in front of the same computer for each session. 

Navigation and Structure:  ACE Reader encourages a spirit of "play" and "adventure."  Therefore, the navigation is easy and fun.  A student can exit at any point of the program.  Feedback is immediate and useful. 

Instructional Applications:  Use ACE Reader as an entire Speed Reading Course (1 credit hour) for college students.  Use ACE Reader as a supplement for ESL students and/or non-native college students in a non-native reading class.  It could be interesting to use ACE Reader with students who are diagnosed with dyslexia and/or visual impairments.  ACE Reader could also be used to help GED students with comprehension. 

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Program title

Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonists Index http://cagle.slate.msn.com

Publisher

MSN

Subject

Social Studies and ESOL

Level

Low Intermediate ABE

Program features

website

Computer Requirements

Internet access

Price

Free

Overall Rating

4    Excellent

 Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent) 

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:   Excellent, provoking, offensive, diabolical, sadly truthful, and hilarious political cartoons will keep your students in class reading and discussing American political and contemporary culture, events, and ideas. 

Navigation and Structure:   Cartoons are well organized with graphical links to topics.  Students can also use the search engine to find other cartoon topics.  Teachers may want to study the Teacher Guide and Teacher’s Tour of the Index for ideas on how to use this site.  Cartoons are printed easily or can be e-mailed for use in class assignments. 

Instructional Applications:    Online handouts will help students interact with this website in scavenger hunts, tic tac toe, and cartoon bingo as they infer the artists’ meaning and opinions and interpret symbolism in political cartoons.  Students can also use cartoons to inspire writing assignments.

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