Greetings Dear Readers ...
Quite a bit has been happening at The Language Collaborative lately!
Language Mentor Version 1.4 Released
We've just released a shiny new version of Language Mentor on the Apple App Store and the Android Play Store. We've been working on this update for the last few months. We haven't made major changes - just a whole bunch of minor tweaks that we think will make Language Mentor easier and more enjoyable to use. While we don't expect that Language Mentor will ever be finished - (we have lots of ideas on how it could be improved) - we're feeling that we've reached a point where it works very nicely.
This being the case, we're going to start focusing our energies on other aspects of the Language Mentor project, including...
We've just release five new German lessons, and over the next few months we and our collaborators will be releasing more new lessons for Chinese and German learners. Stay tuned. :)
Authoring Tool Improvements
Two things are needed for a language learning platform like Language Mentor - a player, which plays the lessons, and an authoring tool which helps authors to create lessons. While the Language Mentor player is complete, the authoring tool, which we're calling "Lesson Creator", is still in development. It's currently at a point where it's quite useful, but there's still more that it could do.
Creating and deploying lessons requires a number of steps, including:
- Converting lesson scripts into XML-formatted files that Language Mentor's code can understand
- Recording and editing audio
- Checking and comparing audio files and XML to make sure that all audio files are present, that files are correctly named, etc.
- Deploying lesson audio and XML onto the Internet (i.e. onto servers) so that Language Mentor can find and download the lessons.
Currently, the authoring tool allows authors to do steps (1) and (3) with the click of a button.
We're not sure whether it will ever do, or even help with, item (2). The world already has excellent free and inexpensive audio editing software (e.g. Audacity) and we're skeptical that we can improve on these offerings. We're inclined to let our users use other tools to create audio, at least for the foreseeable future.
So our next step will be to focus on item (4). We'll be extending the authoring tool to make this step easy, or at least easier.
If you're curious to see what the lesson creation process currently involves, take a look at our Creating Lessons pages.
Until now we haven't really done much to let the world know about Language Mentor. We made an effort back around 2012, got a little bit of interest, and decided that neither the Language Mentor app nor the sample lessons that we'd created were ready for prime time. This graph shows how many visitors our website has been getting - i.e. not many lately!
We've been working since that time to polish the app and create more sample lessons, and are now ready to try evangelizing the platform again. How will we do this? Well, we have a few ideas - Twitter, posting to forums, etc. We'd also welcome suggestions!