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Goals of the CAILS Lessons | Cross-Language Training | Tips on Using the CAILS Lessons

Uzbek lesson topics
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Goals of the CAILS Lessons

The CAILS lessons were designed to help students of Kazak and Uzbek reach the advanced-level in listening proficiency, as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines. The advanced level is characterized by the ability to understand the main ideas and important details of connected (paragraph-length) speech on a variety of topics beyond the immediacy of the situation. The CAILS lessons provide students the opportunity to work toward advanced-level listening proficiency by working closely with video clips that include examples of paragraph-length discourse.

Achieving Advance-level Listening Comprehension

CAILS lessons are content-based:  while a student’s Uzbek and Kazak improves, s/he also learns more about Central Asian cultures.  Topics covered by the lessons include the status of women, music in Islamic history, literature, education, demographics, history and more (see example 1). 

2-3 minute video clips in each lesson feature an individual speaker talking about his or her area of expertise or interest.  The interviews are not scripted, and, as a result, each speaker’s discourse pattern is individualized so that pronunciation, intonation, gestures, lexicon, syntax, etc. may vary greatly.  Comprehension of the interviews may prove challenging at first; however, the sequence of activities in the lessons, built-in listening comprehension strategies, and various help features in the Listening Assistant (see example 2) help build understanding through the course of each lesson. 

 


image from CAILS website
 

Cross-Language Training in Turkic Languages

 A highlight of the CAILS lessons is the opportunity for cross-language training at the advanced level.  The lessons allow learners of either Kazak or Uzbek to develop advanced-level listening skills in the other language. 

The move from one Turkic language to another is closer than, say, French to Italian;  it is rather similar to a speaker of one dialect of modern colloquial Arabic learning to understand another dialect of modern colloquial Arabic.We encourage students to work through pages comparing the two languages in each lesson (see Example 3) and explore the Language Comparisons section of the Listening Assistant in order to broaden understanding of Turkic languages. 

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Tips on Using the CAILS Lessons

CAILS lessons are designed for self-study, as a supplement to the traditional classroom, or for use in distance courses. 

Please keep in mind the following when working through the CAILS lessons:

  • pages are not saved but can be printed out (see Example 4);
  • lessons can be completed in any order;
  • essay and research topics at the end of each lesson provide opportunities to apply knowledge.

Suggestions for self study:  In order to get the most benefit from the CAILS lessons, it is best not to hurry through a lesson.  Students are encouraged to listen to the interviews in each lesson several times to achieve maximum understanding of them and to build listening comprehension strategies.