So, let's see how to use the system. It's usually up and available here. Click on the link, and you should get a screen that looks like this:
The text explains that
you'll be practising the kind of language you'd need in a restaurant
– reserving a table, ordering food, asking for the bill, and
that kind of thing. Enter “guest” (no quotes) as your
username, and hit Enter. (You don't need a password if you're
entering as a guest). Now you should get a screen like this one:
Click on “Allow” to give
the system access to your microphone. The screen should now be as in
the next picture.
If you didn't get the popup window, the
most likely reason is that your browser is unable to access Flash
content for some reason. Make sure you have a recent version of Flash
installed and check your firewall settings. If that doesn't help,
it's possible that your network is blocking Flash. (Many universities
do this). Check with your system administrator to see if they can
By default, the system starts off in
the version that teaches French to English people (the English and
French flags at the bottom right of the left-hand pane). We'll see
how to change languages in a minute, but for now let's just stick
with French. We're in Lesson 1, which teaches you simple ways to
order food, and the right-hand pane explains the grammar you're
covering. You might want to look at that first to get a clearer idea
of what the lesson is about.
The middle left pane, “ORDER
POLITELY LAMB”, tells you what you're supposed to say, so if we
were learning English we'd say something like “I'd like the
lamb”, “Could I have the lamb?” or just “The
lamb, please” - the system is flexible about permitting you to
say things in different ways. But we're doing French, and maybe we
don't know how to say it in that language. We can get assistance by
pressing the Help button – the blue question mark on the bottom
If we do, the screen will look like the
next picture. As you can see, the bottom pane now contains two lines
with examples of responses that should work. The first one has a
loudspeaker item on the left, meaning that you can listen to it as
well as read it. If you click on that line, you'll hear a recording
of the example.
Now you can try speaking yourself. Move
the mouse to the purple Recognize button on the top right, press it,
and KEEP IT HELD DOWN WHILE YOU'RE TALKING. Release
when you've finished.
The first time you do it, the system maybe won't understand you, and
you'll see something like this. Oops! It had no idea what you just
said, and made a random guess – the red bar on the top left
shows you got it wrong.
But don't give up yet! Listen to the example, and try again. After a
couple more tries, you'll hopefully get it right. This time, the
system recognized what you said and marked it as correct (the green
bar on the top left).
If you know some French and experiment a little, you'll also be able
to get a third kind of response. The screen below shows what happened
when I said “L'agneau, s'il vous plaît” (“The
lamb, please”). This a perfectly good way to ask politely for
the lamb, but it isn't what I was supposed to be practising in this
lesson: as you'll see in the text panel on the right (“Lesson
1”), you're meant to be learning the expressions “Je
voudrais ____” and “J'aimerais ____”. So I got an
orange bar, meaning correct language but wrong for the lesson.
Listening to your own voice
It's often useful
to be able to hear your own voice and compare it with the recordings
you get when you use the Help button. You can listen to the last
thing you said using the loudspeaker control at the bottom left.
Getting the next example
practiced the first example enough, you can move to the next one
using the green arrow button on the right-hand side. The arrow button
on the other side moves back to the previous example.
Changing the lesson
You can move to a
new lesson with the green Lesson button (top left). You'll get a menu
showing the available lessons. Double-click on the one you want.
Changing the language
You can move to a
new language with the orange Language button (top left). You'll get
another menu. As with the Lesson menu, select by double-clicking.
have had more work done on them than others. “French for
English Speakers”, “French for Chinese Speakers”,
“French for Arabic Speakers” and “Japanese for
English Speakers” have all been tested fairly carefully on at
least a dozen or so students.
Most of the
courses assume you already know a bit about the language, so are not
suitable for complete beginners. However, “Japanese for English
Speakers (WMDF)” is an exception. This course, developed by Ian
Frank at Future University, Hakodate, is meant to cover very basic
Japanese and assumes no prior knowledge at all.
Changing the recognition level
You can make the
recognition more or less “forgiving” with the control at
the bottom right. By default, this is set to “hard”. If
you think the system is failing to recognizing too often, move it to
“medium” or “easy”. The recognition module
will then consider fewer alternatives, and try to give you the
benefit of the doubt when it's unsure what you've said and one
alternative is correct.
How to study with CALL-SLT
How you use CALL-SLT to study is entirely up to you! But you will
probably get the best results if you do the lessons more or less in
the order in which they are presented, practice them systematically,
and do the examples both with and without help.
If you feel that you are really pronouncing the words right but
are still not being recognized, consider reducing the level of
difficulty to “medium” or “easy”, at least
for a while.
Now go to the demo and try it out!