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TOOL 5: The Anatomy of Transcription Cards


In regular classrooms you have simplified texts and simplified tapes. The teacher adapts his teaching to the median level of language ability for all the students in the class. This seems to be the most workable approach to study, but it leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the moment the students walk out of the classroom, they enter into another world.

There aren’t any simplified texts and simplified audio sources outside the classroom. What you read and hear is made for the native speaker or advanced student. If you meet someone and ask a question, the answer will not be at a slow speed; rather it will be what native speak- ers would call “normal speed”. Normal speed to the beginner or a language student actually means fast, usually as fast as the muscles of the mouth will allow.

No matter what language you study, there is always an abundance of authentic material (TV, videos, radio, tapes, etc.) available. By authen- tic we mean material that has not been adapted or changed to suit the “requirements of students”. Because the ultimate end is to master authentic material, we feel that studying from authentic material is very important.

The idea behind Tool 5 is to use authentic material as a study source. We have recorded unrehearsed conversations and then transcribed them onto cards. Without the transcriptions, it would be difficult for language learners to study these conversations.

The English your students will hear on the tapes is spoken at the same speed they would hear as soon as they leave the class. (The lower level tapes, however, have been made with beginning students in mind.)

We have based the conversations on the Dialogue Card drawings for two reasons.

➀ Because the speakers who talk about the drawings had never seen the drawings before, they give the listener, your students, authen- tic conversations that they can base their studies upon. (Of course they are not completely authentic because the speakers knew that we were recording them.)

➁ Because your students have more than likely studied the Dialogue Cards, the transcriptions provide new approaches to familiar material. Limiting the context of the free conversations to this familiar material, enhances what they have already learned.

TOOLS Anatomy-05