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Textivate revisited

Textivate has been around for a while now, so I am having another look at it, having previously reviewed when it first came out around the summer of 2012.

If you are not familiar with the concept, you can create tasks such as jigsaw reading, gap fills, matching, re-ordering tasks, filling in letters and separating continuous text into words. Exercises can be stored online if you register, or stored "locally" on your own computer.

It is a further development of the original Fun with Texts programme from Camsoft which was the most popular text manipulation computer programme of its time in the early days of what was christened CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). An Ofsted report from 2002 stated:  "Text manipulation packages are being used more often. (Fun with Texts) was originally designed for less sophisticated technology some ten years ago. This is still one of the most effective, particularly with able pupils, but also with the less able, including those with SEN".  In this context Textivate can also be seen as a legacy of the pioneering CALL work done by the late Graham Davies who set up Camsoft in 1982.

Textivate may not be revolutionary in that the exercise types are  familiar to anyone who has used Fun with Texts or Taskmagic, but this latest incarnation of the Fun with Texts is flexible, instantly accessible, easy on the eye and very functional.

It is a very useful tool for developing reading comprehension, grammar, written accuracy and vocabulary. It also has that great advantage of self-authoring tools in that you can adapt it precisely to the needs of your own class and instantly make it available on line for class or homework. In addition you can print off worksheets which can make homework setting very easy..

Whilst you can use Textivate resources created by others for free (if you have the URL), nearly all the benefits of using it come from three levels of paid subscription which make much more sense if you want to use it for classes. A student individual login allows a pupil to do what used to access resources, textivate "on the fly", save to their computer, but not not upload. What is, effectively, a whole school subscription costs £100 a year. This provides:
  • up to 1000 shared logins for students, with 10 teacher logins
  • up to 1000 resources storable in the cloud
  • you can embed your resources on a website, blog or wiki
  • upload public resources, which can be shared via a url or embedded in other web pages, or accessed via the public resource browser 
  • upload shareable resources, which can be shared via a url or embedded in other web pages, but are not visible in the public resource browser
In an era when there are probably too many gimmicky uses of ICT in MFL, this is a package which will stand the test of time, provide a good mental challenge and support any language course you can imagine. It appeals to the teacher who values analysis in language learning, but also provides good comprehension material which you can grade to the needs of your class. Crucially, it is a super time saver, being quick and easy to use, even for any technophobe teachers.

You can probably guess that I recommend it highly.

Try it here:


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"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

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"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

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We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

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