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Learning A Foreign Language "Online"


by William R. Eubank

My Frontier feature this month tells about a trip that I will be taking between June 8th and July 3rd to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am going there at the invitation of the Rotary Club of Montserrat to teach English at several universities and to work with bilingual public servants of that city.

For years, I have been using computers in what is commonly know as CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) in public education. I have been doing this as an E.S.L./E.F.L. (English as a Second/Foreign Language) teacher to help Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish speaking immigrant students in the United States learn English. In the past I have worked in Yunnan, China, Yucatan, Mexico, and Hong Kong teaching students in those locations English.

Since August of 1995 I have actively collected 127 CALL computer programs covering 35 different languages from the World Wide Web. These programs are housed in the file libraries at One Crossroads Place BBS (663-1100) and are available for anyone to download and to use in studying the specific language. The programs are also available from the WWW at http://kcmo.com/languag1.htm and http://kcmo.com/languag2.htm .

In order to better prepare myself for my assignment next month I started using some of the Spanish drill programs from the OCP file libraries to brush up on my self taught Spanish (brush up - I am starting from darn near ground zero).

Anyway, Don Shorock, http://homepage.midusa.net/~shorock a friend of mine from Great Bend, Kansas (who has some Great Pages) suggested I look into AXXON http://axxon.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/axxon.html a science fiction zine published in Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina - so last night I fell into the black hole of cyberspace and didn't pop out again until I had read and read and read some more Spanish.

I must admit that most of the reading I did on this first visit was 'about' the magazine itself. Since I am familiar with the formats of infoZine such as READROOM and NEOBOOK, I know that there are certain stock information items that a digital magazine must give its readers in order for them to navigate this new digital media. This information looks pretty much the same in Spanish as it does in English. Navigation with AXXON is through a mouse or keys (enter, page up, page down, return, esc, or hot keys).

The layout of maga(zines) the world over is pretty much the same - cover page, navigation & legal page, subscription & reproduction page, publisher / editor page, index (features, sections, advertisements, letters to the editor, etc.) and staff page. AXXON has all of these and they are easy to understand - even with limited Spanish.

Issue #77 of AXXON is multimedia. Included in its 357 screens is a short novel (novela), notes (nota), art (Galeria Del 9.0 ARTE), technical information (Ensamblador 8086/88 - part 5), and two sound recordings (Musica). The novel is by a well known Argentine science fiction writer and one of the notes is a translation of an article by Arthur C. Clarke. Letters from all over the world written to the editor are answered or acknowledged.

The .zip size is large (900K) and the expanded size will take up 2 meg on your hard drive (plus the .zip unless you delete it). The art is ANSI and is about science fiction characters. I ran the program from my file manager with no problems - the program will revert to a screen saver if you don't keep moving through the pages.

AXXON es un producto Argentino. AXXON es GRATIS. Go get a copy http://axxon.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/axxon.html, I promise you will learn some Spanish and have some fun while you are at it.

Copyright William R. Eubank 1996

Added to the WWW 06-06-96
Updated 06-06-96

William R. Eubank Jr.

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