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Learning lab helps language classes practice pronunciation.

"It's great to see a testing situation turned into a fun experience," says Dr. Sue Otto, the director of the Language Media Center at the University of Iowa. She is referring to the effects of the center's LLC-learning 9000 lab from Sony Audio Visual Products in Cypress, Calif. The LLC-9000 is effective for testing and communication activities for either pairs or small groups of students.

According to Otto, ESL, Chinese and Japanese language classes benefit greatly from the lab's ability to coordinate and monitor pronunciation drills and improves listening comprehension. These classes are usually divided into groups of two to four students, who are then given a communicative task to perform.

Another emphasis, beginning German, utilizes the lab for testing listening comprehension. Students are paired together and perform a dialog that is recorded for grading at a later date. Over 300 German students are channeled through the center per semester. Otto describes their first test experience as being so relaxed that many students were laughing, and having a good time as they recorded their performances.

* Impressive Features

The new learning lab has been in place for less than a year. Previously, a Sony 5500 Series learning lab was installed in the Language Media Center Otto describes the old unit as being non complicated than, in her opinion, it needed to be.

So after over seven years she began investigating other labs, and learned of the LLC-9000. Impressed with its online tutorial and redesigned student deck, as well as the overall performance of the older lab, Otto decided to purchase Sony's newer machine. She was also swayed by the fact that many standard features on the former unit were now modularized, allowing the director to customize the machine to fit her requirements.

Also, regardless of where they are located physically in the room, the LLC-9000 eliminates the need for students to move chairs around or get up and walk about the center to vary partners. The language lab electronically assigns partners randomly or enables instructors to decide how to group students via a touchscreen panel. Students on opposite ends of the room can communicate with each other without leaving their seats.

* Current Usage

Otto says the language lab is booked 70 percent of the time it is open: 8:30 to 5:30, Monday through Friday. ESL, Japanese, Chinese, German and French students access the lab-as many as 50 classes per semester.

For the past 11 years the Language Media Center has also been used for taping the speaking portions of the American College Testing Program. Students are required to extemporaneously discuss a given topic; those discussions are taped and graded for proper grammar and sentence structure. The lab is so easy to use that these students, many of whom have never experienced the center, don't need any instruction on how to operate the equipment.

Students think it's

really nifty."'

Otto is most pleased with the instructors' response to the LLC-9000; it is well received by the teachers, who find it easy to use. But most importantly, the director was amazed when "two professors told me that they may have to change the way they teach their language courses to best take advantage of the lab!"

* To Be Continued

Otto realizes that the Sony lab has features she has not yet tapped-features she hopes to take advantage of in the future. She anticipates using the student response analyzer and the built-in editor, the latter of which handles audiotape manipulation. In addition, she may start storing records of student responses.

"The students think it's really nifty, it's easy for them to learn to operate, and the new equipment is fast," Otto asserts. "The lab has more than met our needs."
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Title Annotation:Applications; the University of Iowa's Language Media Center
Author:Greenfield, Elizabeth
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:618
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