Vance Stevens – Second Language Listening with Blogs and Odiogo

November 21, 2010 



     Vance Stevens discovered recently that English language colleagues were creating listening exercises for their students by recording themselves reading them, so he suggested they set up a blog with the readings and have them read by Odiogo, at

    For this session, I have in mind setting up two blogs (for comparison purposes) and creating the tag for them fromreading2listening whereby we apply the Writingmatrix principle ( so that those using that common tag can find each other’s similar blogs.  My presentation will show how we can collaborate on setting these up so that we essentially create a set of podcast sites with beginning, intermediate, and advanced listening passages.
To explain how this can happen, Vance  started a document outlining what will happen during this presentation here:

     All interested teaching practitioners are welcome, but what we need from participants is for you to come prepared with at least one good story for a short listening passage. I’ll add you as contributors to the two blogs and get you to post or email your story (as text) to this blog and/or post it to And we’ll see how each of these can be enabled with Odiogo to create the listening exercises that will benefit our students.

The last step will be to tag our posts writingmatrix and fromreading2listening (see the “tags” for this blog post).  When readings are posted, we should set up additional tags for beginnerintermediate, and advanced, to distinguish the types of listening passages there are. The listening passages will be created in podcast format automatically when Odiogo renders our posts from text to speech.

If others around the world create similar blogs, they can tag their posts similarly to ours, and in theory we should be able to find one another’s posts using blog searches such as Technorati, e.g. (No results show in 2013)

During the presentation, or at any time you are exploring this project, I encourage you to tag in Diigo or Delicious any web sites you think are pertinent to this project with the tag fromreading2listening.  Also, if you microblog the event, use the hash tag#fromreading2listening and if you blog it or create any artifacts associated with the project, tag them fromreading2listening.

So, please prepare a story of particular use to second language learners (we can try out different languages ;-), and hope to see you online, or find out from you later if this might be of any benefit to you and your students (leave comments below if it is, thanks :-).

For more information:


Reflections: The session accomplished its goals of setting up two blogs where people could send their stories and then, in less than an hour:

  1. Registered multiple users in both those blogs
  2. Got those users to send in numerous stories as posts to the blogs
  3. Voice activated each blog
  4. Accessed the listenings through widgets on the blogs themselves
  5. And accessed the podcasts of both blog text to speech recordings
  6. Established a tag fromreading2listening system whereby if anyone else creates similar blogs we can find each other’s, in theory.

The voice rendition wasn’t bad. Someone tried out Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, etc. Jeff Cooper put in Richard III’s soliloquy and you can listen here to see what you think


One of the blogs set up for this purpose is still Odiogo enabled (as of Apr, 2013).  Some of these comments and stories below (but not all) were posted  to that site: But the Posterous blog set up as one of the experimental sites ceased to exist on April 30, 2013.  So Vance has harvested what was in that blog and posted it here.

Rita Zeinstejer had commented: The Firefox Text-to-Voice addon in English is here:

Nina Liakos experimented with Bad House

I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): “You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”

TeacherGilmar submitted Cathy and the House

At first Cathy liked her new house. It was large, spacious, and had a garden you could get lost in. The only thing that worried her was the house next door. There was something strange about it. Even when a strong wind was blowing, it seemed to be very still. Cathy used to tell her brother the house was covered in glass, so the wind never touched it. One day they decided to explore the house to see if the glass was there. Cathy was nervous and her brother went in front of her. Suddenly her brother stopped. He was pushing against a wall that Cathy could not see. “You silly boy”, she said. Her brother laughed and they both crept up to the edge of the garden. They saw nobody so they ran across the grass.

“Can you feel the wind?” Cathy asked. Her brother had to admit that he could not.

They reached the front door. Cathy crept along the wall to look in at the windows. The house was dark and empty. She came back to her brother. The air felt heavy. They could not move. They pushed the door. They felt something pull them through the open door. They could not do anything. They were lost in the darkness, held by it like by a huge hand.

Dennis Newson contributed As I was going down the stairs

As I was going down the stair

I met a man that wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today
I do wish he would go away.
Dennis Oliver contributed Clary Elkins
Clary Elkins was an unusual old woman who lived in the village I grew up in: Louisville, Illinois.
Clary spent most of each day wandering around Louisville’s village square. She pulled a two-wheeled cart stuffed with all manner of (to her) treasures as she made her daily rounds. What was unusual about Clary (other than her dress, which was always, shall we say, distinctive) was her glasses: she wore three pairs simultaneously. It was always a comical sight to see her nodding her head up and down as she moved from one pair of glasses to the next so that she could see things at different distances.
Clary was considered to be a kind of “village character,” but not in any way a weird one.
I’ve never forgotten her, though I haven’t spent any time in Louisville for at least 20 years.
Rita Zeinstejer contributed Mike Krath High and Lifted Up

It was a windy day.

The mailman barely made it to the front door. When the door opened, Mrs. Pennington said, “hello”, but, before she had a real chance to say “thank you”, the mail blew out of the mailman’s hands, into the house and the front door slammed in his face. Mrs. Pennington ran to pick up the mail.

“Oh my,” she said.

Tommy was watching the shutters open and then shut, open and then shut.

“Mom,” he said, “may I go outside?”

“Be careful,” she said. “It’s so windy today.”

Tommy crawled down from the window-seat and ran to the door. He opened it with a bang. The wind blew fiercely and snatched the newly recovered mail from Mrs. Pennington’s hands and blew it even further into the house.

“Oh my,” she said again. Tommy ran outside and the door slammed shut.

Outside, yellow, gold, and red leaves were leaping from swaying trees, landing on the roof, jumping off the roof, and then chasing one another down the street in tiny whirlwinds of merriment.

Tommy watched in fascination.

“If I was a leaf, I would fly clear across the world,” Tommy thought and then ran out into the yard among the swirl of colors.

Mrs. Pennington came to the front porch.

“Tommy, I have your jacket. Please put it on.”

However, there was no Tommy in the front yard.


Tommy was a leaf. He was blowing down the street with the rest of his play-mates.

A maple leaf came close-by, touched him and moved ahead. Tommy met him shortly, brushed against him, and moved further ahead. They swirled around and around, hit cars and poles, flew up into the air and then down again.

<  2  >

“This is fun,” Tommy thought.

The maple leaf blew in front of him. It was bright red with well-defined veins. The sun-light shone through it giving it a brilliance never before seen by a little boy’s eyes.

“Where do you think we are going?” Tommy asked the leaf.

“Does it matter?” the leaf replied. “Have fun. Life is short.”

“I beg to differ,” an older leaf said suddenly coming beside them. “The journey may be short, but the end is the beginning.”

Tommy pondered this the best a leaf could ponder.

“Where do we end up?”

“If the wind blows you in that direction,” the old leaf said, “you will end up in the city dump.”

“I don’t want that,” Tommy said.

“If you are blown in that direction, you will fly high into the air and see things that no leaf has seen before.”

“Follow me to the city dump,” the maple leaf said. “Most of my friends are there.”

The wind blew Tommy and the maple leaf along. Tommy thought of his choices. He wanted to continue to play.

“Okay,” Tommy said, “I will go with you to the dump.”

The winds shifted and Tommy and the leaf were blown in the direction of the city dump.

The old leaf didn’t follow. He was blown further down the block and suddenly lifted up high into the air.

“Hey,” he called out, “the sights up here. They are spectacular. Come and see.”

<  3  >

Tommy and the maple leaf ignored him.

“I see something. I see the dump.” The old leaf cried out. “I see smoke. Come up here. I see fire.”

“I see nothing,” the maple leaf said.

Tommy saw the fence that surrounded the city dump. He was happy to be with his friend. They would have fun in the dump.

Suddenly, a car pulled up. It was Tommy’s mom. Mrs. Pennington wasn’t about to let her little boy run into the city dump.

“Not so fast,” she said getting out of the car. “You are not allowed to play in there. Don’t you see the smoke?”

Tommy watched the maple leaf blow against the wall and struggle to get over. He ran over to get it but was unable to reach it.

Mrs. Pennington walked over and took the leaf. She put it in her pocket.

“There,” she said, “it will be safe until we get home.”

Tommy smiled, ran to the car and got in. He rolled down the back window and looked up into the sky. He wondered where the old leaf had gone. Perhaps one day he would see what the old leaf had seen – perhaps.

Nina Liakos submitted A History of Cancer

This is an excerpt from a book review in today’s Washington Post, “Chronicling a Modern Plague.”

It’s time to welcome a new star in the constellation of great doctor-writers. With this fat, enthralling, juicy, scholarly, wonderfully written history of cancer, Siddartha Mukherjee—a cancer physician and researcher at Columbia University—vaults into that exalted company, inviting comparison to the late physician and historian Lewis Thomas and the late paleontologist and historian of science Steven Jay Gould.

Calling his book a biography of cancer, Mukherjee opens “The Emperor of All Maladies” with the disease’s first mentions—in the musings of Imhotep, an Egyptian physician who lived 4,600 years ago, and in the case of Queen Atossa of Persia, who, according to Herodotus, ordered a Greek slave to cut off her tumorous breast and lived.

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