Virtual University, English

Getting to know you: English listening for first-year Japanese College Students.


Project Goal

The goal of this project is to create internet-based listening materials for first-year Japanese learners of English. The basic materials will consist of tape-recorded interviews of three speakers on twelve different topics and supporting exercises and a quiz at the end. There will be a pre-test, mid-term and final. The testing will perform two basic functions: to provide feedback to the students using the material and will be used to evaluate the course. The materials will provide practice for fifteen ninety-minute sessions. Although the materials will be designed to be used as a stand-alone listening course they can also be used as supplementary materials for other courses. Because the interviews will be used to generate speech that is natural, personal and conversational, these listening materials should fit well as supplemental material for lower to intermediate level speaking classes.

Target Audience:

First year English students at Hiroshima University.

Behavioural Objectives:


We will choose fifteen units which will include some of the following: Introductions, Sports, Music, World Problems, Food and drink, university life, Japan, hometown/home country, family, and dating,


Interviews will consist of asking twenty fixed questions to three different speakers for each unit. From these fixed questions, other follow-up questions will be asked depending on the answer to the first question. The speaker will be informed in advance about difficult topics, however, since the intention is to get natural-sounding speech, preparation will kept to a minimum. We hope that using foreign students here at the University of Hiroshima, we can create interviews that will be interesting and relevant to their Japanese peers. We hope that being able to learn to listen with a high level of comprehension to these interviews at their normal speed will provide confidence and motivation to the users of these materials.


A summary outline for the preparation of materials:

  1. Make list of topics
  2. Prepare questions for the interview.
  3. Perform the interview.
  4. Upload the video from camera to computer.
  5. Edit file (cutting out unecessary material), arranging order, k
  6. Compress file to the form needed for the web.
  7. Segment file so that students are allowed easy random access to different parts of the interview.
  8. Download unit to the computer.
  9. Transcribe speech.

Support materials:

The interviews themselves are considered a database on which supplemental materials will be built. Supplemental materials will consist of various exercises, some made with Hot Potatoes software available from the URL: or will be developed with WEB-CT software which provides a richer Materials will consist of pre-listening, arranging words to make correct sentences, cloze tests and multiple choice. There will be a test given at the end of each unit plus a test for the first half, second half and a final comprehensive exam. In addition to these materials, the data-base will be there to access for different kinds of practice. For example, some additional materials could be developed for pronunciation practice that might involve learning about intonation or identifying vowel sounds from the data-base.

The current state of the project:

We have created a pilot interview found at

This is a primitive version, but it gives some idea about the direction we are going. We are not happy with interface right now, but are working on it. Also, we wanted to make it so that one could click on a hyper-link within an exercise page which would take you to the speech referenced there. The only way we have of doing this now will create a new RealPlayer window. We hopefully will solve this problem, but at this point, we will make the exercises separate and provide references to the realaudio. For example with the existing pilot-test, one could add "to hear the clip for this exercise, please click Q1 on the realplayer window".



A project of this nature will naturally develop as we go along. Although we have some idea of what we think the final product will look like, it will likely change as we see how it looks and what others think of it and especially how users react to the project. We can expect great changes to occur especially after students use it and express their reactions to it. A further goal is to make the materials extendable. One cannot foresee from the start how raw materials that can be fairly easily changed a


Target audience

Using the technology


Although each unit will be able to stand alone, efforts should be made to give coherence to the entire project. That said, one should insure that the final product is not just the same thing over and over with the result that the materials are terribly boring.


The research team

Brian Teaman, Coordination, Technical

Peter Skaer, Pedagogy

Kamada, Japanese materials

Joe Lauer, English materials

Research Assistants

Student workers will assist in various aspects of the process. What they do will depend on what they want to do and their ability to do it.

Why a technical Solution?

Listening skil


Behavioural Objectives




Units (we will be selecting fifteen of these.


Food and Drink


Sickness and Health



Nature and Environment


Global Issues

Things that are free


Life Goals


Favorite People




Sample Lesson: Introductions


Part 1: 10 standard questions/Limited vocabulary, careful speech.

What's your name?

Where are you from?

What's your hometown like?

Is you’re the place where you are from well known for anything?

What do your parents do?

Do you have any brothers and sisters?

How old are they?

What do they do?


Part 2: Stories

Tell us some stories about your family?

What was a normal day like, in elementary school, in junior high schoo, in high school?

Are there any stories you'd like to tell about your home town.


Part II: Standard questions in a more free-form format.

Part 2:


Technical Aspects

The actors

The equipment



Feb. 28, 2001, Complete overall plan. Complete preparations for Unit 1.

Jan. 31 meeting.

Fine-tune plan.

Agree on duties

Feb. 7, recording of first subject


March 31, 2001, Test Unit 1 completed.

March 1, Filming of first subject. Download to computer.