See it, hear it, say it!

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


The advertised Help/Options features of See It, Hear It, SAY IT! include: the user can select from male or female voice as the pronunciation model (to accommodate user preference); at the beginning of each session, the user can adjust the ‘Vocabulary Level’ to a higher level of difficulty than in previous sessions. Information is provided on how these difficulty levels, and the collection of the ‘most commonly used words were determined in the Teacher’s guide, in a separate document on the CD. Learners, however, do not have easy access to this information; the number of new words added to the practice session, or ‘Rebound Rate’ can be increased or decreased (though learners do not have access to a list of new and revised words, or a list of the words they have mistaken in any activity); the response time can be adjusted through the ‘Interaction Speed’ option on the control panel (but not during an activity); the level of pronunciation accuracy with which the program recognises users’ attempts can be adjusted as users become more proficient; There is also a note that localized versions provide bilingual support in some countries. While it is good to see new technology being incorporated into language learning programs so quickly, this reviewer feels that more attention needs to be paid to the pedagogical value behind the kinds of activities offered, and the methodology of the instructional design employed. On the pedagogy side, complete sentences providing more context for learners would be preferable to the single, isolated words currently offered. It is well established that the provision of context, either visual or aural, can enhance memory and recall. In addition, this reviewer questions the pedagogical value of only providing activities that require the use of memory/recall learning strategies, when these strategies have been shown to be less effective for the development of higher level processing. Another pedagogical problem is the restriction on learners to two attempts at any item, and the lack of a capacity to backtrack or revise, based on an individual learner's attempts in an activity. In order to cater for individual learner differences and to take better advantage of the computer to offer flexible delivery and self-paced learning, it is necessary to provide flexibility for this in the instructional design. From the perspective of instructional design, navigation and orientation could be improved for learners by creating the capacity to display help and supplementary features in windows on the main screen, rather than replacing the main screen. More facility to backtrack, repeat components of an activity, and exit more readily also need to be incorporated. Perhaps a reduced use of 'bells and whistles' such as sounds and animation sequences, and reduced number of on-screen icons might also provide a calmer atmosphere for learning. Finally, a note in the documentation and advertising material about the north American pronunciation focus of the package, would reduce frustration on the part of teachers who may speak some other variety of English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-176
Number of pages5
JournalCALICO Journal
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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