doranwen (doranwen) wrote in linguaphiles,

Creating language learning lessons

First off, I should say hi. I'm Doranwen, I speak English natively, and I started studying Spanish in 2000 (though I haven't spoken it on a day to day basis for three years now). I've got a very tiny smattering of French, and beyond that merely bits and pieces of words and grammatical knowledge. Mostly I work on a language of my own that I'm creating, and that is what brings me here. A friend recommended I post here as well as conlangs, so if you're a member there too, I apologize for any inconvenience the crossposting may cause you.

So I've been working on a conlang I call Cerstan. I spent a good amount of time transferring vocabulary into a new program to handle the database, and am now ready to work on a set of lessons to learn it. You see, I have a cousin about 11 or 12 who is actually interested in it. He loves his big cousin, and thinks languages are cool. And as long as he's into all that, I'd be delighted to share a bit with him for as long as the interest lasts. (My dad always told us to learn the "real" languages and scoffed at creating them, but I think it's a delightful artform, and worth it just for aesthetic purposes.)

But a sure way to kill that interest is to have really boring lessons with no variety and all that. So I'm looking to put together a packet of materials, everything from lessons to read and answer questions to quizzes to run through certain programs to crossword puzzles to print out and do, to even interactive games if there are any I can make work for me. (And of course, I'll be chatting with him online when possible, and sending e-mails back and forth with bits of the language in them for practice.)

My first question to this community is, what suggestions do you have for creating this? Is there a sense of a format I should start with (greetings, etc.), any lists of vocabulary/phrases to introduce in certain orders? Obviously, some of this will depend heavily on my language's characteristics (it has a large set of cases and aspects, tending to be on the synthetic side of things, and I don't really have a whole separate culture fleshed out for it), but some universals must exist.

The second question I have is, what materials do you suggest I use along with a basic set of lessons? Any freeware/free open source programs you highly recommend? Keep in mind that my cousin uses Ubuntu, so anything I recommend should be simple and basic enough that it'll work through Wine (something like a Windows emulator, but not exactly). In other words, no 3D graphics or anything too flashy. But anything web-based will work great, and I do have a site I can host some miniature games and such things at, so he can go there to play them. I have a good crossword creation program, and I can render those sorts of activities as pdf files, which don't depend on a specific OS.

One note: Although I do have a special script (and a font for it), there is a Latin transcription which I use most of the time, and would use in any lessons to start with. It uses accented characters, such as á, é, ô, and ñ, among others (all are found in either French or Spanish, to the best of my knowledge). I have no issue typing these, and he probably won't either, but if the program or game won't handle anything but the basic 26-letter alphabet, it won't work.

I welcome any and all suggestions. Currently, the one program I know that I can make work is called MultipleChoice, a tiny (and by that I mean only 144 kb!) program that lets one create quizzes and take them, with three or four options to choose from. I'm sure that won't pose an issue to Wine, and it isn't bothered by accents. Beyond that, I haven't figured out anything else yet.

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