Telephone Learning Software Helps Solve SAT and Literacy Crisis in American Classrooms with a Phone and the Web

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New Technology Assists with Essay Portion of the SAT

Steven Donahue, professor and developer of innovative writing enhancement technology, today announced the release of revolutionary Telephone Learning Software to help solve the literacy crisis in American classrooms and promises to truly "Leave No Child Behind." The phone learning system is capable of processing student essays by telephone and returning instant holistic scores. Professor Donahue notes, "With the new SAT requiring an essay component, this is an incredibly important invention for all American students to realize their college dreams."

The telephone learning system consists of 11 activities covering a spectrum of learning: Spelling, Multiplication Tables, Dictation, Tongue Twisters, Background Knowledge ("What is the capital of California?, etc.") and free responses for writing and speech topics. Activities involve both listening and actual voice output. The Web is an integral part of the phone system, and allows students to pre-view assignments, and get post-results, which are then emailed to them. Once the student's audio writing samples are converted to text, they are processed using an automatic essay evaluation program called California Electronic Writer, currently in use in California school districts.

The automated telephone learning system offers many advantages. Authentic listening and speaking can help take the place of the lack of interaction with native role models. Phone-in homework becomes an interactive and documented experience. Moreover, increased verbal power spills over positively into related disciplines: writing, grammar, accent reduction, vocabulary building, reading, even math. Finally, the work load of teachers is lessened.

Donahue describes the urgent literacy needs of students in the June issue of a Language Magazine article, "English as Second Language (ESL) students might as well learn Cockney from the Queen of England as attempt to study English in Miami. Language contact with native speakers of English is becoming increasingly uncommon. And this immigrant language problem is a burgeoning one, coast-to-coast."

Professor Donahue declares, "There has got to be a better way to teach aspiring English learners the spoken language. " And the better way has involved using the common telephone, linked to a sophisticated Web-system which is beginning to provide authentic language learning for the legions of foreign students at Miami Dade College's English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. The telephone learning system has seen significantly improved speech and writing output by EAP students in trial tests this past semester at the College.

To use the telephone system, students call a toll free number, enter an individual PIN, select a lesson and assignment, and interact with that assignment over the telephone. Responses are converted to audio files and emailed to the students, posted to a Web site, and then analyzed with an audio to text converting program to assess the accuracy of the responses.

Steven Donahue is a professor at Miami Dade College and features editor for Language Magazine ( He has developed the software specifically for the woes of America's poor writers/speakers. Beyond the classroom, the US Military has used his software for learning exotic languages, such as Pashto and Dari, the languages of Afghanistan and Iraqi Arabic.

The software assignments can be viewed at (

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Professor Donahue can be contacted at (954) 920-8192 or

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