Audacity: Your Voice, Anywhere

It is important to motivate students in class. The lack of attention leads to lower results and failure. While it might be hard to bring a guitar in class and show off your skills, it’s easy to buy a microphone. Equipped with the proper recording material, anyone can turn a boring lecture into a wonderful show.
If you want to record your voice, you will need a microphone. If you want to record your instruments, you can either use your microphone or an audio interface plugged in the computer. When this step is completed, all you need is a good software to record everything. Audacity comes in handy.

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Description

Audacity is a recording software available on Windows, Mac and Linux. It is completely free and offers a wide variety of options for beginners and professionals. This software is open source, which means everybody can access the source code to study it (programs like Firefox and OpenOffice are also open source). Being open source allows the software to be upgraded by any programmer who dares exploring the code of Audacity.

Voice and music recording

When your microphone is set and ready to use, it is time to record. Audacity is used to record live audio performance. This can be done with your voice, your guitar, your piano and even your pets. There are no limits to what you can record on Audacity; the microphone will do the job. After the software is installed, press the Record  button and let it all out. Once completed, it will look like this:

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(Note: The interface can change depending on your operating system)

Now it is time to edit your recording. Audacity allows you to configure many things about your tape, such as: the pitch, the tone, the bass, the speed, etc. You can split, cut, delete and copy all the segments you want. It is also possible to record over your previous tracks (to simulate conversations for example). Most importantly, the software has a feature which reduces the background noise. This is important when you want your tape to sound more professional. The full list of features is available here.

The modifying features are great for voice recording, but they are weak when it comes to music recording. As a frequent user of Audacity on a personal basis, the features come short when I want to record guitar or bass tracks. Nonetheless, the sound quality is impeccable. If you wish to add some extra features to your guitar tracks, I recommend using devices like the Line 6 POD Studio (more information available on the website).

Voiceover and Video Applications

The recordings you make on Audacity can be used on their own. The tracks can easily simulate a conversation or an announcement to use inside your class. If you are willing to go the extra mile, it is possible to use Audacity in order to record over videos or images. You can easily become the narrator of any story you want to show to your students. Moreover, it is possible to do weird and funny voices over a video by removing the actual speech of the video used. All those possibilities can be done using the software called Windows Movie Maker (free and available for all Windows users). Here is a tutorial on how to create a movie using Windows Movie Maker. As I said before, this is useful for teachers who have a lot of imagination and spare time. Editing videos is difficult and time consuming, but incredibly fun when you become familiar with it. The best way to do so is by experiencing each software on your own!

Applications for ESL Teaching

Using Audacity increases the number of activities a teacher can use in his class. Relying on videos and audiotapes is an effective way to get students’ attention according to the National Teacher Training Institute. Instead of using the same repetitive paper tasks throughout the year, teachers can come up with new activities and lessons. As an ESL teacher in training, I would use this software to record music since I have been working with music for as long as I can remember. I won’t bring my electric guitar in class because of the amount of noise it produces. However, I can definitely record songs and musical arrangements at home using Audacity. If it does not please students, voiceovers and narrations will attract their attention more than regular lectures using the old schoolboard. It is not necessarily more effective, but it will help students who think plain lectures are boring.

Link to Audacity Official Website: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Professional Guidelines for Editing with Audacity: http://diyvideoeditor.com/cleaning-a-voice-track-with-audacity/

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