Recording real conversations for language learning and analysis

Taff, Alice
Taff, Alice
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Sufficient exposure to everyday conversation is crucial for language learners to become fluent; however, such exposure can be difficult for learners in small language communities with few active speakers. For the Tlingit (Alaska/Canada) language community we are producing videos of spontaneous conversations with time-aligned bilingual texts with the aim that these recordings fill some of the learners’ needs for exposure to real language. Today Tlingit has approximately 200 birth speakers. The mortality rate over the past two years is 13%. This project serves as a case study in small language documentation, conservation, and revitalization. In this session we describe the collaborative processes by which we video spontaneous conversations, create time-aligned bilingual annotations, and produce accessible language learning materials. We discuss how this collaboration creates new opportunities for language use and for weaving the generations together in language transfer. The core team for our NSF-funded project includes university administrators, professors, researchers, and students. We collaborate with local and regional school district administrators, teachers and students, with tribal administrations and with individual language community members. Since Tlingit ancestral territory includes both US and Canadian lands, our project includes Tlingit speakers and learners on both sides of the border. Working with people: We discuss adapting the project design to meet the needs of students and speakers, finding fluent speakers willing to record, and making the recordings. We describe transcription/translation sessions between fluent speakers and learners. These sessions, focused on specific items of language, give the learner and speaker opportunities to transfer language directly from one person to another. With the goal of doing their work IN the target language, the pair develops a Tlingit phrase repertoire to use during their work. Language learning takes place during recording sessions, translation/transcription sessions, and with the language community use of the end-products of the recordings. Working with technology: We describe workflow; capturing conversations on DVcam formatted video-recordings, computer processing in iMovie, reformatting as .mov and .wav., ELAN and PRAAT as aids for bilingual annotation and acoustic phonetic or morpho-syntactic analyses, production of interlinear texts and subtitled QuickTime videos for language learning, making materials available on the Web, and archiving. We discuss challenges and solutions in tracking the media as it migrates from one format to another and one person to another as well as the challenges of training dispersed team members in the many details of several software programs.
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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
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