Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning/Output


Note. This module was added on 2006/05/23. Originally, speaking and writing were included in the Interaction module, but there are aspects of speaking and writing that do not involve continuous or regular social interaction. So these "asocial" aspects of speaking and writing will be added here. Until removal of this note, readers should consult the Interaction module for additional information about and resources for speaking and writing.

One issue to be resolved is the overlap of resources and tools for improving writing and speaking with content of the Exercise and Coureware module of this wikibook. One possible solution is to consider here only resources and ideas related to actual acts of writing (including composing) and speaking (including audio recording of radio programs and podcasts). This would eliminate exercise and drill-type resources from this module. But it would include resources such as audio recording software (e.g., Audacity and GarageBand). Also, if this module is to be distinct from the Interaction module, it should deal with "asynchronous type" writing and speaking, not synchronous writing (e.g., text chat) and speaking which assumes that one is interacting in real time with someone else.

Add information about Swain's output hypothesis.

  • Swain, M. (1985) Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In Gass, S. and Madden, C. (Eds.), Input in Second Language Acquisition, pp. 235–256. New York: Newbury House.
  • Swain, M. (1995) Three functions of output in second language learning. In Cook, G. and Seidelhofer, B. (Eds.) Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics: Studies in Honor of H.G. Widdowson, pp. 125–144. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Also see Krashen's critique of the need for comprehensible output to acquire a second language.



Composing is a higher order cognitive skill than writing, and so deserves perhaps a separate section to deal with online resources and tools that help language learners understand content-genre considerations (that is, how various types of writing in different disciplines are organized into rhetorical structures), rhetorical effects (i.e., how writing is organized top-down as in a newspaper, or most-important-last as in an academic essay), literary genres (e.g., how haiku is structured vs. the sonnet), and the process approach to writing (see Bridgewater College OWL). This section might also include advice on brainstorming, peer editing in groups, KWL (Know-Want to Know-Learned; NEA), the I-search (Macrorie, 1998), WebQuests (B. Dodge, 2006), and other ways to organize research and the writing process at various age and ability levels. (Submitted by EH-S, 03 JUL 06)

  • Brainstorming
    • Template to use in brainstorming an essay (B. al-Othman, 2001)

Here L2 students and instructors can create a blog in French to practice writing and network with other French speakers.

French writing advice

These links advise L2 writers in the process, mechanics, and style of writing in French. Good advice for writers in any language!

Here L2 students can follow directions on how to format their word processor (Microsoft Word in this example) to write a foreign language text.

French transitions

Click on "View Card List" to see a list of about 25 English transitions and their French translations.




These webpages are useful for learners of Chinese. They provide how to write Chinese characters (esp. the order of strokes) as well as the pronunciation of those characters.



Xie Tianwei

Dragonwise: Chinese character Stroke order

Dragonwise: The origin of Chinese characters


  • Machine translation: An unorthodox way of writing in a second language would be to write first in one's first language, then use a machine translator (such as Google's) for a "rough draft" translation and then fix it up using one's own L2 knowledge, grammar checkers and spell checkers.This could be something to try in class. > language tools Try this from English to French
  • Word Processing: What about word processing spell and grammar checkers? If you have the U.S. version of MS-Word, what's involved in getting the spelling and/or grammar checker in another language. Also consider looking at Open Office's free write program ( to see what spelling and grammar checkers may be available in different languages. Gary Cziko 16:53, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Web-based word processing: Google Docs; Zoho; ThinkFree;
  • fuzzmail "Fuzzmail records the act of writing and lets you send it as an email. Dynamic changes, typoes, pauses and writeovers are captured and communicated. We created fuzzmail because we wanted a more emotionally expressive alternative to email, so that an emailed love letter does not have to look the same as a business letter." (from website). Fuzzmail may be useful for language teachers and students to investigate the process of writing.



  • see Input module




  • Rhyme in Spanish This website gives instruction on how you can write your own poetry in Spanish and have it rhyme.


  • Google's Gmail includes a multilingual spelling checker. The user can select the language or let the spelling checker decide which language is being written. This tool can be used for non-e-mail writing by pasting text into a Gmail compose windows, checking the spelling, and then copying and pasting it into another application.
  • Google Toolbar Spell Checker. The Google Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer has a spelling checker for text entered in any web form. Works in 12 different European languages.
  • Spellink a free, online multilingual spell checker offered in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian
  • Lenguaje An online Spanish spell checker.


Word processingEdit

Many word processing programs provide writing tools of use to second language learners. These include spell checkers, grammar checkers and thesauruses.

    • A free online Grammar checker for English
    • Microsoft Word offers multilingual spell check, grammar check, and a thesaurus for free. Simply edit the preferences of spell check and select the alternative language(s) you would like to use. The computer will automatically detect the language you are writing in and use the tools accordingly.
  • Microsoft Word Microsoft Word provides a spell check for many different languages. Right click on a highlighted word and scroll to the language setting. You can also set a language as the default and with any new documents Word assumes you are writing in that language
  • Open Office's Writer program is a free, open-source word processing program that includes dictionaries for spell checking in multiple languages.
  • How to check spelling and grammar in another language in Word 2003 (Windows)
  • Ichitaro word processing program commonly used in Japan.


  • Audio Recording: is another option for students to record themselves speaking without the use of a camera. I think this would be easier for beginners because one of the hardest parts about speaking in front of a video camera is actually seeing yourself speak what you actually look like (does that make sense)? Anyway, this is a more private approach to practicing speaking. The teacher could again track the students progress so that by the end of the semester they will have a record of all of the recordings they have done throughout the class.

Audio RecordingEdit

  • see for web-based recording
    • You must create an account (free) to record. Your computer must have a microphone, and it's best to use headphones when recording. When recording, leave the Odeo browser open for best results.
    • The default save setting on the drag-down menu "Place in" is called "Don't place in a podcast." This will only save your recording as an mp3. In order to save your recording as both a Odeo directory web link and an mp3, select your account name from the "Place in" menu. Click "Save," and your recording will be an mp3 and a view link. You can directly embed the mp3 and view link on the web or elsewhere. The view link leads your audience to your recording on, and they do not need an account to listen to it. The advantages of the view link is that listeners will also see any notes you made about the recording, the title, and any links, tags, or images you've added. You can also edit and update your account while maintaining the same view link/mp3 file.
    • When you playback your recording before saving, it may speed up unnaturally (for some reason, this only happens once in a while). This does not affect the recording itself once it is downloaded as an mp3 or on the view link.
  • GarageBand for Macintosh
  • Audacity (free) for Windows, Macintosh and Linux
  • is a free service for recording by phone
  • has a seven day free trial and lots of features
  • is another free service for phone recording*

This page is being temporarily used as a collection point for resources on writing and speaking to be eventually transferred to the main Output module. Gary Cziko 16:14, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

    • Audacity
    • GarageBand
    • Dialcasting
    • WavePad
    • Gmail with Google Talk. If a user has two Gmail accounts, both associated with Google Talk, it is possible to send voicemail from one account A to account B (and even have account B forward the message back to account A). In this way a learner could use Gmail + Google Talk as a recording facility, although it is limited in its functionality as it has no pause, edit or append functions.

Video recordingEdit

  • Videotape: At first this idea may seem a tad strange, however in an intensive spoken Spanish class I am currently enrolled in, this is an activity I have to do once a week. Basically, my teacher assigns one major topic and we have to speak about it for five minutes in the target language. I never realized how I sounded when I spoke Spanish, heard first hand grammar mistakes I often make, or words that I use too much. This activity can be geared towards ability level in that length of recording can vary along with degree of difficulty of the topic. I would recommend this for intermediate learners who have a stronger background and more practice speaking the language. Nevertheless, I think this is a great way for students to practice speaking and listening in their target language.


Macrorie, K. (1988). The I-Search Paper. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

O'Brien, M. G. (2006). Teaching pronunciation and intonation with computer technology. In L. Ducate, & N. Arnold (Eds.), Calling on CALL: From theory and research to new directions in foreign language teaching (pp. 127–148). San Marcos, TX: CALICO. ISBN 1085-2999.