English language learners and LiveCode

Richmond richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Wed Jun 13 03:37:21 EDT 2012

On 06/12/2012 11:31 PM, Alejandro Tejada wrote:
> Richmond, in this mail list, you and Nicolas Cueto
> are English teachers.
> If you want to test the premise that learning
> LiveCode could help you students in their
> process of learning the english language,
> What kind of specific tasks would you
> assign to them, to prove or disprove
> this hypothesis? :-)

I don't think learning Livecode could help students in their
process of learning the English language in any way beyond
the way performing anything in the target language assists
vocabulary development.

What I do think is that Livecode is a bl**dy fantastic programming 
environment that
should be available in almost every school that has pretensions to 
developing its own
in-house software for content delivery and reinforcement.

I also believe that language schools rely far too much on software that
has been developed by the publishers of the textbooks they use, and that 
is never tailor-made, never adjusted to local needs, requirements and 
and based on the one-size-fits-all idea, which really means that it 
never quite fits

---------------- Historical Contextualisation for why I believe the 
above ---------------

Prior to my setting up my own language school in Bulgaria, 8 years ago, 
I worked in a series of Universities in a variety of countries where 
part of my duties involved developing exactly the
sort of in-house software I have mentioned above.

Possibly the toughest time was when I was developing software with 
Toolbook 6 (NOT
because of Toolbook) in the United Arab Emirates where I had to juggle 
the language
requirements present in the textbooks (Longman "North Star") with the 
sensibilities of
the Islamic authorities in the University. The obvious reason that I was 
developing that software in the first place was that, at that time at 
least, there was no EFL software that could deliver the
"goods" and not fall foul of Islamic-Wahabi feelings about matters that 
they felt, very strongly, were not suitable for their University students.

Here in Bulgaria I use Longman "Backpack" for my children, and Heinle 
"Outcomes" for my teenagers and adults. I don't make software 
specifically for "Outcomes".

The "Backpack" software is, in my opinion, puerile and banal, and is 
based on a model of children working their way through one of the seven 
levels (!!!!!!) a year. But, as that is based on a model class of about 
20-30 kids, and I teach kids in groups of 4-6, I generally get through 2 
to 2 and a half textbooks per year, as well as a whole range of 
supplementary stuff. Therefore I have an ongoing development programme 
(called "what I do on Wednesdays") where I develop software that can 
serve my specific needs.

If I did not work with Runtime Revolution Livecode I would, probably, be 
obliged to run Microsoft Windows on my computers in my school; an 
unnecessary expense and headache as far as I am concerned; as I would be 
dependent on one of the 'other' RADs that, apart from being inferior 
(pace Toolbook) tend to produce standalones for Windows or Macintosh.

Between Livecode, GIMP, Audacity and a digital camera I can produce what 
I require very quickly indeed.


However, and it is a big 'However', I have a 35 year track record of 
computer programming; 24 years of that specifically for education.

The problem (if RunRev is interested) is how to get teachers, who are 

1. want to make their own in-house software.

2. set aside the time to learn how to do that.

About a month ago I went to a presentation by Jeremy Harmer at Hotel St. 
Petersburg here in
Plovdiv. Harmer made an impassioned and well-crafted speech for using 
technology intelligently
to the assembled EFL people of Plovdiv. Those of us who understand 
Bulgarian and were flapping our
ears heard this sort of comment; "That's all very well, but our kids 
learn English perfectly well without all that, and why should I spend 
time outwith the time I teach getting all that stuff ready? My employer 
will not pay me more and/or set aside time from teaching to do that."


Imagine, if you will, the following:

A room with 13 computers, each running Livecode; 12 hooked up to 
monitors, the other to a data projector.

A series of well thought-out lessons on how to make a set of content 
delivery and reinforcement standalones based on pre-prepared templates.

Teachers attending this 'course' being paid to attend.

Teachers being 'given' copies of Livecode so that they can develop in 
the comfort of their own homes.

Teachers being rewarded every time they produce a half-decent program 
that can be run on the machines in their places of work.

Pie-in-the-sky? Doesn't have to be.  There is, however, a general apathy 
and lack of will power.


Sorry Alejandro; perhaps not what you wanted; but what I care 
passionately about.

Richmond Mathewson. BA, MA, MSc.

> Al
> --
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