Audio self evaluations

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Teaching Listening

Readers of this site know that I have spent a lot of time researching ways to help students learn to listen and speak in a second language, and then implementing those ideas in the classes I teach. I have also become fascinated by the power of audio, particularly the idea of creating radio, and been fortunate to be able to create opportunities for students to both listen to masterfully crafted audio stories from Radio Ambulante, as well as create their own radio shows thanks to our student run, college owned radio station.

This past year I tried something new.  I asked my students to use the idea of “radio” and a “radio show” as a way to chronicle their speaking and listening progress over the course of the semester.  At the midterm and final exam points in the term, I asked them to create a short “radio show” in which they would curate snippets (not entire recordings) of what they considered to be examples of their learning during the term.  I also asked them to incorporate snippets from their Listening and Speaking Journals, also as a way to share their growth during the term.  And snippets, as well, from their contributions to our class’ weekly radio shows (which, if you are interested, can be heard here).

Here is what the midterm assignment looked like:

Midterm oral self-reflection:

So far in HISP303 you have had the opportunity to record yourself completing assignments and tasks with varying levels of complexity and creativity. Some of you have DJ’d radio shows that were recorded.  Each of you has been asked to keep a listening/speaking journal to chronicle your listening/speaking efforts outside of class.

On or before Monday March 23rd (note: this is the first Monday of Spring Break)  you will submit to me a 10 minute “radio show”  that highlights your speaking and listening progress so far in HISP 303.  Your narration will be in English.  You can include music and sound effects (ie make it into a real radio show!),  but at least 7 minutes (70%) of the total recording must feature you, either your clips speaking in Spanish or you narrating in English.

You should include a minimum of three clips from previous recordings and describe/share/paraphrase a minimum of  three events from your listening & speaking journal.  Your narrative should explain why these were significant moments and what you learned as a result.

Your self reflection will be reviewed and assessed on the basis of organization, your thoroughness in your reflection, creativity  and the variety of items selected for review. It is worth 15% of your final grade. Note: this process will be repeated at the end of the semester with future clips and will also be worth 15% of your final grade.

Note: When saving your files in Audacity the general rule is 1MB:1 minute for audio. Your completed file should not be larger than 10MB so it can be sent to me as an attachment in an email.

The files were sent to me as email attachments.  I loaded them onto my phone because I was traveling that week and listened to them on some plane ride to somewhere.  To a person they were marvelous, insightful, honest and creative.

A note about technology and tools: As a class we spent a class or two talking about how to use Audacity, and I always made sure there was someone available for questions on the days/evenings when an assignment would be due.  What I discovered, however, was that most of the students, shared and learned from each other how to add effects and soundtracks and techniques to improve their ability to tell their stories. Over time I would hear Conservatory students using recordings of their own performances as musical interludes, or recordings of Skype conversations that were recorded via mobile phones pointed at laptop speakers, or ambient sounds from the campus and beyond.

With his permission, I would like to share one of the recordings here.  This is Alex’ midterm oral radio show self evaluation. I have scrubbed any mention of his last name, at his request, and have left the rest of the radio show intact.    Please take a listen (it’s about 10 minutes long).

Do you think this is an effective way for students to review and reflect upon their own learning? I welcome your comments!


Featured image: by “Structured Serendipity”  by  Giulia Forsythe,  CC by-NC-SA 2.0

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Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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