LangLab PASSPORT At a Glance

What it is and isn't

LangLab PASSPORT is a suite of software modules (shown in our How It Works section) that help students acquire aural, oral, reading, and writing skills as well as cultural knowledge—or other kinds of knowledge, in courses other than language courses—through active use of lessons teachers design. Teachers can use existing multimedia or text resources and new resources they create. Students log in and choose their course from a menu. A course can have any number of lessons, and a lesson can have any number of "items" or activities. In self-paced work, students choose lessons from menus, click to go from item to item, and resources are available—teachers don't waste time finding files and sending them to students.

Alternatively, a teacher working with a class can take control of the module students use, for instance to administer a standardized test or have students practice for one. Such tests impose restrictions on listening to an audio clip and on recording responses, and a teacher controlling the students' module can make it play a clip and stop it or initiate recording and stop it. Teachers can also use this mechanism to ask questions and have the class record responses on the fly, thereby improvising lessons the teacher has not had time to assemble before class.

Lesson activities can involve both tools "internal" to modules and additional multimedia instructional materials on Web sites or in file form. Teachers link resources to items, and in self-paced work students simply click on buttons to access them. Internal tools include the following:

  • sound clips that teachers record themselves or import
  • recording of oral responses, including during recording pauses. Responses during recording pauses are combined with the original sound clip as a new file, so that comparing responses to model utterances is very easy and doesn't require switching between tracks.
  • small pictures that pop up automatically when a student is using an item
  • a scrolling text window for instructions, text material, written questions, and radio buttons, checkboxes, and text boxes for entering answers to multiple-choice, fill-in-the blanks, or essay questions. You can choose colors and fonts to suit an age level or to make the lesson varied and visually appealing.

External tools a teacher can link to items of lessons include anything in file form—video clips, pictures, maps, drawings, and other images, longer audio clips, Powerpoints, documents, etc.—or any Web page.

Activities can call for viewing video, images, and documents in conjunction with listening, recording, reading, and writing. The ability to combine these functions in imaginative ways enables teachers to teach all skills together in an integrated manner, so that for a particular aspect of language, the multiple impressions a student receives help the student learn faster and retain knowledge longer, and an activity focusing on one skill reinforces related activities focusing on other skills. With this rich toolkit, the teacher can hold students' interest by introducing extraordinary variety—reflecting the myriad circumstances of language use—in diagnostic testing, instruction, and assessment of proficiency. (For a white paper detailing combinations of functions and how they might be used, click here.)

Students can work alone in a drop-in lab or outside, and a whole class of students can work individually—or a teacher can have the class work in unison, with the teacher controlling listening and recording. Students can also work in pairs or groups, using a special module that lets a group listen to and view materials as a basis for discussion (with the discussion recorded if desired). A teacher can listen to students and guide them while they work, in a real or virtual lab. Afterward, the teacher can analyze their work and provide feedback by inserting comments in recordings or by adding corrections and comments in a word processor to a file of written work.

LangLab PASSPORT itself isn't a general-purpose classroom-control system for multimedia broadcasting. Such systems are valuable but are usually usually limited to giving students passive exposure to very large units of material. Most also lack the authoring and asynchronous-feedback tools LangLab PASSPORT provides, don't support remote use, and run only under Windows. LangLab PASSPORT provides more structured and interactive exposure to multimedia materials, using them in smaller units to elicit frequent oral or written responses from students and to help learners master language skills methodically.

Where classroom-management capabilities are desired, LangLab PASSPORT can run at the same time as very affordable classroom-management software. (A teacher can use two screens, one displaying LangLab PASSPORT and the other displaying classroom-management functions.) Using these products in combination gives a teacher additional instructional tools (e.g., watching a student do written work in LangLab PASSPORT, or sending one student's recording or LangLab PASSPORT screen to others), and provides additional ways a teacher can improvise lessons. The total cost of ownership of the combination is still far less than what other vendors charge for language-lab systems with classroom-control capabilities.

Using LangLab PASSPORT

  • Students can go through lessons as their schedule permits.
  • Teachers can review and insert comments in students' recordings at their convenience.
  • Teachers can bring up a file of written work and add corrections and comments.
  • A teacher can monitor and assist a class as students work.
  • A teacher can control listening and recording for ensemble work and standardized tests.
  • A teacher can see at a glance which lessons and items students have finished and how much time any student has spent on each one.
  • Time teachers spend preparing lessons is an investment that pays off for many years, since teachers no longer have to prepare classes in which those lessons are going to be used.

LangLab PASSPORT gives an educational institution or business engaged in language training the flexibility to accommodate different needs and experiment with different instructional techniques. LangLab PASSPORT makes it easy to track students' progress over time, measure their achievement, and adjust the curriculum to accommodate the needs of individual learners.