What do you do when you can’t find an accompanying CD for your coursebook or a listening lesson? Scream? Shout? Point fingers? Don’t worry, there are a few things you can do in replacement of the CD if it seems lost for that moment you need it. At our school, the problem for missing audio CDs seems to be a reoccurring problem. Each week, there is a frenzy to locate the missing CDs, and yes sometimes missing tapes. Unfortunately, those involved would often quickly place blame on other people for the missing CDs: “So and so used it last, so they mustn’t have put it back!”. I find it somewhat amusing that particular teachers are blamed but there seems no immediate plan to recover lost CDs. So, what is the best way to teach a lesson if you have lost a coursebook CD and what ideas could be incorporated for the future?
One thing that I have done in the past, actually when I was doing my Diploma at the University of Sussex, was to record our own soundtrack. I grabbed a few teachers and said, “Look, I can’t find the CD for this activity so I would like to record ourselves.” They were more than happy to help and I handed out the transcript to each teacher, got my phone and started the sound recording application. We took a few takes, recorded ourselves with the transcript to hand. The teachers were always so helpful and it made quite a nice change. I suppose you could spin it another way and get students to record themselves with their own smartphones, attach their smartphone to speakers and then get students to answer the comprehension questions which are then in the coursebook. All coursebooks have transcripts from their CDs, so it just makes life easier when you record teachers or students for missing audio.
One thing to do is to photocopy the transcript, tip-ex some of the words out, photocopy the amended transcript (after the tip-ex has dried – otherwise you end up removing the tip-ex from the glass panel from the photocopier) and then hand to students. The students then work together and try to reconstruct the transcript. Once reconstructed, you could students to act it out, record on a video and then upload to YouTube. The students will find this activity enjoyable and more memorable rather than forgetting about the listening that they done for 10-15 minutes.
Another thing that I like to do at home is to digitalize all my music and CDs on to my computer. Fortunately, with the advance of technology, you don’t have to worry too much about CDs breaking or getting misplaced. You can burn your CDs on to your computer and then transfer to an MP3 so you don’t have to juggle around with so much equipment when setting up and preparing your lessons. You could even get your laptop/PC to communicate with your smartphone via Bluetooth and play the audio through this method. If you do lose a CD and you have a digital copy, you can always burn it again to CD from your computer and have a backup just in case. I am surprised by the number of schools that rely on the original CDs but when they disappear, it can really hit the fan. If you have access to computers or servers are setup within your school and have access to these in your classroom, it would make sense to make a digital copy of your CDs or otherwise, purchase IWB software which contains all the audio and video included with it. This would save you time with juggling between CDs and/or tapes as well as DVDs to play in the classroom. You would be able to play the audio straight from your computer or school server. When I was undertaking the CELTA at the British Council in Seoul, all computers in the classrooms had access to the school server and all audio could be accessed via these computers. Of course, with any reliance upon technology, there were a few times when the computers crashed.
What are your best ways to incorporate the tapescript into your clasroom? Do you have problems with your school with lost audio CDs or tapes still? Do you have any advice for ensuring CDs do not go missing?