Subject: ICT in Language Education
Lecturer: Hartoyo, M.A., Ph.D.
CALL Program Assessment: CD Evaluation
by Efi Dyah Indrawati
Universitas Muhammadiyah Prof. Dr. Hamka
Jakarta – Indonesia
CD Evaluation that I perform here is based on the basis of five principles of self-access computer-mediated language learning program by Hartoyo (2006:90-91). They are:
1. ‘interactivity’ (feedback and instruction)
2. usability (flexibility)
3. content ‘appropriatness’
5. performance (attractiveness)
The followings are the ratings that I use for overall evaluation of a CD:
***** = Very Good
**** = Good
*** = Fair
** = Limited
* = Poor
Title : Issues in English
Publisher : Protea Textware Melbourne
Year : 1995
Rating : ****
Since the CD doesn’t use runtime files, I have to explore the content first then click the setup to install it, which is impractical for people who are not computer literate. Yet, I admit that the author of the CD is very creative in programming a way to improve English learning by using content approach on hot issues in life. The CD is very interactive, in the sense it stimulate user’s interaction by providing feedback.The appearance of the program is not bad, yet it could be a bit dull for people who love attractive colors and design.
After we launch the program, we can see the attractive exposition of menu or topics (rich content), such as Animal Rights, Euthanasia, Discrimination, Smoking, Public Transport, the Environment, Gambling, and Growing Old, presented from level 1 to level 4. All are provided with Getting Start, Listening, Vocabulary, Grammar, Speaking, and Writing buttons. The narrators on the video are various people, which make the CD more appealing. From level 1-3, there are Jenny, Michael, Parthena, Isobel, Andrew, Gary, Ryan, Sally Ryan, and Carol; while in level four, the features are experts or guests in each issue like John McPherson, Rob Wootton, Jim Roberts, Manar Tchelebi, Carol Oliver, Will Tomadin and. Kay Koetsier.
Talking about the usability (flexibility), the operation of the CD is very easy, just by doing the instructed action on each button, such as:
– Getting Start (questions on comprehension of the video): we just need to drag the available answer to match the question on the box. If we can answer then right, the feed back will be spoken “Right!”
– Listening: we just need to click the right word that we hear from the audio. If we can answer one question, the response can be “Excellent!”, “That’s right!”, “Well done!”
– Vocabulary (using pictures and words): we just need to drag the words to match the pictures. We will know that we didn’t give the right answer if we couldn’t put the right word to the right box.
– Grammar: we must type the right complement of a sentence using keyboard, and if we succeed the response will be “Good!”, “Well done!”, or “Excellent work!”
– Speaking: we record word using microphone, and we can click a word to listen to the sample pronunciation
– Writing: we must type using keyboard a sentence to fulfill questions on the issue presented by a speaker.
I found the CD is very practical for English self-learning. Yet, the navigation buttons are not provided with text, so we must try to click each one to know the function (such as the balloon callout sign means ‘go back’); this can be frustrating for people who lack of computer skills because they will get confused in choosing the menu. In addition, the quality sound of video are not good, it was choppy spoken sounds. I think that’s because CD burning quality is not very good; I finally viewed the text by clicking text button to help me understand the spoken statements by the actors/guest speakers. Anyway, one good point about this CD is that it also provides a glossary or index for learning, which is rarely provided in English learning CDs.
In my viewpoint, this CD is appropriate for students of junior or senior secondary school (ESL students), since the materials are ranged from level 1 (Basic English) up to 4 (intermediate English). This CD can be very effective to improve students’ mastery of the four language skills for their level: speaking, grammar, listening, and writing.
Title : Speak English: Talk More
Publisher : Eurotalk Ltd.
Year : 2000
Rating : ****
To start using this CD is quite easy if we have already had Quicktime program in our computer; this happens to me the first time I open it using my notebook. The second time I tried using it with my own home PC, I failed and have to restart my computer because this program asks a screen resolution of 1024 x 76.
The appearance (performance) of the program is very attractive: using bright colors and modern design, which makes is more appealing than the previous CD (Issues in English).The narrator who begins the program is very encouraging by saying: “Good luck, have fun, and enjoy it!” There are only two hosts or presenters, a man and a women, but it is alright. Like the previous CD, the navigations buttons are not accompanied by text, so we must try out each button to find out the functions. This is not very flexible in the usability, and it can be a bit frustrating for people who are not very keen on computers. Meanwhile, this CD is interactive enough by stimulating users to score higher, yet it is not provided with feedback (such “Good” or “Congratulations” for high scorer, or “Try Better” for poor scorer) like the precious CD. This CD is actually provided with Help Language, but we must insert Talk More extras CD, and of course I have none of them.
The effectiveness of this CD is on the materials to improve speaking proficiency, they are put in context for speaking, such as greetings, at the restaurant, shopping, getting around, at the hotel, on the phone, emergencies, leisure, and business. This really helps users to enlarge vocabularies in certain context. In addition, the pace of speaking by the hosts is very slow, and the pronunciation is very clear, sometimes they use sign language while speaking. This is quite helpful for people who want to improve their pronunciation skill by imitating the hosts’ speaking.
All in all, this CD is appropriate for learning speaking for ESL learners in the elementary level because the material is very easy to learn and understand. It can also meet the need of students of elementary and secondary school to practice speaking.
Title : Talk Now! Learn English: Belajar Bahasa Inggris
Publisher : Eurotalk Interactive London
Year : 2000
Rating : ****
This CD doesn’t use runtime files so I have to use the Window’s explorer to find the setup to install it first. Some problems for me who have just moderate computer expertise, I couldn’t open with my PC because it asks a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, therefore I use my notebook. Also, my computer is ‘hang’ while using this CD quite often, I don’t really know why.
I find this CD is very interactive; it can stimulate users, even seems to communicate with users by providing feedback on each attempt. For example, if we click a wrong answer, it will tell us by saying “No!”, and if we click the right answer, it will say “Yes!” It also rewards users if they can answer all questions correctly by saying “Selamat!” (the score is excellent). Talking about the usability, the navigations buttons are clear and provided with Indonesian description. For example is when we want to change the language, we can click the symbol of flag, or when we want to quit the program, we just click the symbol of a foot. Users are flexible to choose the menu; they can skip exercise that is too difficult to attempt. The appearance or performance of the program is very attractive: colorful and modern-stylish design, typical of product of the year 2000s.
The effectiveness of this CD is that it helps users to improve their vocabulary, phrases, and pronunciation. One thing that I notice is that this CD is appropriate for people who want to learn General English in the intermediate level and also students on the level of Junior to Senior high school.
Title : Easy to Sing
Rating : **
At first I couldn’t open this using either my PC or my notebook, and I thought it must be the bad quality of CD burning again, so that the file (or maybe the directory) is corrupted and therefore unreadable. But when I try using VCD players at a CD rental, I finally succeeded to open it, although only for once (the second time I replayed it was not successful).
The CD contains selection of songs, and users can choose what they want to listen to, so this not an interactive CD. There is no interaction between computer and users by providing feedback. The performance is not very attractive, because the layout of the screen is just standard. In dealing with the flexibility, the buttons used are standard and not very interesting, yet easy to navigate. The song lyrics on the CD are easy to catch and follow, which are quite helpful to create an enjoyable environment for learning. In my opinion, this CD is appropriate for English learners of beginner levels, such as kindergarten or elementary school. This is very helpful to develop student’s vocabulary through songs. The good points of the songs used in the CD are that they also teach some moral values of life. In my viewpoint, this CD is okay as an alternative choice for English learning, especially for the elementary level.