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Mark and Steve talk about their idea of asking our EnglishLingQ podcast listeners to help other LingQ members and LingQ by producing podcasts in their own language. People can even earn points on LingQ by doing so.
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Mark: Hi Steve.
Steve: You know, today we were thinking that we would talk a little bit about what we’re trying to do here at LingQ, how our education model, our business model, how it all works.
You’re the one who comes up with all these bright ideas and one of your ideas now is to take advantage of the podcast not only to generate content for our listeners, but to do more than that.
Can you explain what it is your thinking is?
Mark: Well, specifically, today what I thought we could talk about was the podcast that we offer in other languages.
Obviously, for us to do an English podcast isn’t very difficult, but we also have a FrenchLingQ, GermanLingQ, SpanishLingQ, JapaneseLingQ…
Steve: …ChineseLingQ, SwedishLingQ, RussianLingQ, PortugueseLingQ, ItalianLingQ.
We have, obviously, quite a few and we’re not native speakers of those languages; although, you participate in a few of those.
Ideally, we would have other people who understand LingQ, who understand what types of podcasts, sort of our style of podcasts or fit our style of podcasts.
I was thinking, we were thinking, that our EnglishLingQ listeners might be the perfect feeding ground for potential podcasters.
Steve: Let’s mention what has happened with SpanishLingQ, for example, where for a while we had trouble getting going.
I would phone different people and with Skype the sound quality wasn’t perfect, plus I’m not a native speaker of Spanish, so it wasn’t ideal.
Then we were able to find people, one in Argentina, one in Uruguay, a couple in Mexico who were — I think he was Mexican and she was Chilean — I’ve been talking to some people in Spain, so we’re thinking that we could have a variety of people.
Ideally, they’re located in the same physical premise like we are here because then we get the best sound quality.
If we go through Skype it’s not quite as good and if people can give us, when they have the time, in Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, whatever language.
So if you’re sitting there listening right now we’re having a conversation about this subject and, as you know if you’re a regular listener, it could be about any subject; current events, what’s happening locally.
We talk about, obviously, a variety of things, whatever strikes our fancy and that’s what we are looking for from our podcast creators.
That’s what we would be looking for in the other languages, so if you’re sitting there right now listening and you could see the possibility of sitting down with your friend or your wife and recording a conversation about what you did this past weekend that’s exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for.
Really the only requirements that we have are that the sound quality is good and that the content is interesting, understandable.
Steve: I think people maybe are a little bit concerned.
You know they’re not experienced at speaking into a microphone, they don’t think it would be of interest, but if we take some of the discussions we’ve gotten… Again, in the Spanish we had a fellow and his friend in Buena Aries who were talking about nightclubbing and they were lined up for an hour at some nightclub at 4:00 in the morning.
I guess they have a pretty active nightlife down there in Buena Aries, so that’s of interest.
We had the couple in Mexico talking about the food they like to make, some Chilean food, some Mexican food.
Even though it was a monologue, a very interesting Swedish monologue, we prefer dialogues, but she spoke about the seasons in Sweden.
It really can be anything.
Mark: Absolutely, it can be anything and very often it’s the more sort of day-to-day type conversations that are of most interest to people.
The topics that come up in your regular day-to-day life are more real to people.
Like what do Argentinean people really do?
I don’t necessarily need to hear a conversation about the Argentinean…
Steve: …economy, which is okay though; nothing wrong.
Mark: There’s nothing wrong with that, but what we’ve learned at EnglishLingQ is a lot of the more popular content relates to discussions on every-day subjects.
Steve: And, of course, once we get going there may be people who have specific requests; we occasionally get requests.
But mostly I think people are just happy to tune-in and find a new discussion on some other subject: daily life, what people do, I go to work, I do this, I take this form of transportation.
Insofar as the sound quality, if people have a PC what do you recommend that they use insofar as a microphone?
We use this Logitech digital USB headset microphone, which costs the equivalent of $50.
I mean, essentially, your sound quality in general with a USB microphone is going to be better, but you can still have good quality sound with a regular analogue microphone.
Steve: What’s the software they should use?
Mark: It’s essentially just a matter of trial and error.
A big factor that can influence your sound quality is, unfortunately, the sound card in your computer.
Some computers have good sound cards; some computers have less good sound cards.
Obviously, if you have a desktop you can replace your sound card if you really want to work at getting better sound.
There are a number of things you can do.
If you’re on a PC the software that we use is Audacity.
Anyway, you can look it up on Google, Audacity.
Mark: Right. For the most part, when we record on our Macs we use WireTap Studio, which you have to pay for.
Audacity is free and actually does a very good job.
WireTap Studio is, I don’t know, $60 or something and is only available for Mac.
Steve: It’s very good.
Mark: It’s just much more convenient, but Audacity is very good too and, as I said, it’s free.
Steve: One thing we should point out is that I hope that many of you who listen to EnglishLingQ occasionally come to LingQ and read the transcript and save words and phrases.
Maybe some of you have, at times, thought that you would like to talk to one of our tutors which, of course, requires points or that you would like to write and have your writing corrected, which requires points.
I think we were thinking that would be an idea to offer points.
Mark: Well not just an idea that’s what we are going to do.
Steve: Well maybe you can explain exactly.
Mark: We would like to pay you for doing this and we’ll pay you with LingQ points.
We hope all of you are members and study the transcripts and would like to earn points, so here’s an opportunity to earn points by providing podcasts which, of course, are also added as content in the Library.
For each 10 to 12 minute podcast we will be paying 1,000 points, which is the equivalent of two events or two conversations on our system.
We think that’s an attractive reward and we’d like to see some of your podcasts.
Steve: Again to stress, you said 10 to 12 minutes?
That’s kind of the length that we would like?
Steve: The other thing is we want them to be natural.
This is not for beginners, it should be natural.
Don’t speak too quickly, but speak naturally like we’re speaking right now.
Mark: Exactly, exactly.
We’re not looking for, you know, the typical at the post office or at Customs at the airport type conversations that you very often get in language courses.
We just want natural day-to-day topics like we discuss here.
Steve: Well, exactly.
What we’re trying to do or our model is that we have some very easy podcasts using the Power of the Linguist and easy stories like that, but the others we want them to be natural conversation because that’s no so generally available.
We talk as if we’re talking to native speakers and we feel that with the aid of the transcript and with the aid of LingQ’s functionality you can use these natural conversations to acquire the words and phrases that you need to speak naturally.
The other thing that I like about this model is that one of the things we wanted to do at LingQ is to have people help each other.
Here you help other people by creating these podcasts in your language and you even get points so that you can use them to improve your own language skills, so that’s the idea.
And people who are interested, what should they do?
Mark: Just to sort of finish off… From our perspective, obviously, we are trying to put these podcasts out because we are hoping to attract people to LingQ and also it creates content for our site for the Library at LingQ.
That’s why we’re interested and if you are interested you can get in touch with us through our Support, Support@LingQ.com.
That’s how you should contact us.
We will ask you to provide us with a sample just to check your sound quality.
I mean you can do a sample podcast, send it in and we’ll give you some feedback and let you know whether we’ll accept it or not.
Steve: And we provide the transcripts, so you needn’t worry about doing the transcripts; we look after the transcripts.
Is that true?
Mark: Yeah, all we need is the sound file.
Steve: All we need is the sound file.
And if you are in a language, if your native language is a language that we don’t yet have at LingQ like, I don’t know, Mongolian, Finnish, some language like that, maybe in the future.
Mark: Hopefully in the future.
Steve: I’m serious, hopefully in the future.
Korean is one we want to move to; I mean every language is worthwhile learning.
We eventually want to do native languages of the Americas and so forth, but we aren’t there yet.
We have to sort of stay with the languages that we have up on the site right now, but maybe in the future some of you speakers of languages that we don’t have — Arabic is a big one, Hindi — that’s something for the future.
Steve: Okay. We look forward to hearing from you and thank you.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them on the EnglishLingQ Forum at LingQ and we’ll be happy to answer them.
Any technical questions related to the sound or any questions about content or how this whole thing is going to work, so we look forward to hearing from you.
Steve: Thank you, bye for now.