Activity Workshop
 

BBC Catchphrase

It's not quite clear how old the original "Catchphrase" course from the BBC is, but it's old enough to be "archived and no longer updated", and old enough to mention "John Major" and "Bill Clinton" in the present tense. (And old enough to still host .ram and .rtf files!).

It looks like it's a very useful resource, with a large collection of audio files and course notes, and being from the BBC it's completely free. But technically it's showing its age, and the BBC aren't going to update it any more. So I obtained permission from the BBC Wales to create some derivative works using what they have produced.

The aim here at the activityworkshop is to reinforce the effectiveness of the learning by using multiple media at the same time. Although some people prefer to concentrate just on listening and repeating sounds (and some courses such as "SaySomethingInWelsh" concentrate exclusively on audio), many people benefit from seeing the written form as well, preferably at the same time as they hear the audio. For those who find it easier to remember things which they have seen, this provides an important way of connecting the written notes with the way the language sounds.

The mp3 files provided by the BBC demonstrate very well how the language sounds from a native speaker, so this leads to a kind of multimedia experiment at the ActivityWorkshop. The idea is to use the unmodified mp3 files from the BBC, together with subtitle files, in exactly the same way that little subtitle files can be used with videos. Depending on which browser you're using, it may be able to do this directly in this webpage, which is by far the easiest way. The benefit is that when the Welsh words are introduced in the audio, the written form can be shown at exactly the right time, reinforcing the learning effect.

If your browser can't do that, you can use a video player like VLC to play the mp3 file, and load the subtitle file in addition (in VLC's case, using the menu command Subtitle -> Add Subtitle File...). Note that for some reason, VLC doesn't show the subtitles if the audio visualisation is off (this is probably a bug I guess), but you can choose any of the visualisations from the "Audio -> Visualizations" menu. Another advantage of using your browser to do this is that it doesn't try to show a distracting visualisation at the same time.

The course notes included in some of the lessons are taken also from the BBC notes, and were converted from rtf into a more readable format and condensed for clarity. The notes can be used before or after the lesson as a summary of the main points covered. There was a proposal for converting these course notes into book form (either paper or epub), but unfortunately this isn't seen too favourably by the BBC, so this won't happen, and that's why the course notes for the later lessons haven't been converted. That's a bit of a shame because the rtf files are a bit ragged but the contents would have looked great in a book.

There is however a dictionary showing some of the vocabulary used in the lessons. It also shows you the lessons in which each word first appeared, so you can listen to those lessons to get the correct pronunciation.

As you can see, these are the tentative beginnings of an experiment, to see if the idea catches on. So accordingly only the first few of the dozens of Catchphrase lessons have been adapted so far. If you think it's a useful idea, please get in touch and give your feedback.

The lessons

The lessons are split into groups of six, and build upon each other in sequence: