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Using Audacity

A. What is is Audacity®?

In this section you will find out what Audacity® looks like and how people use it. If you decide to use it for your class, it will be helpful to know some basics.

Audacity® is a free, open source software that enables you to record and edit audio, mix it and export it in a format that you can use in your teaching (e.g. for listening, pronunciation or production activities).

It is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which means that you can use it for any personal, commercial or educational purpose, including installing it on as many different computers as you wish.

It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and you can download it from the net at 

With its user-friendly interface Audacity® enables teachers to create oral activities for face-to-face and/or online language teaching environments (i.e. pronunciation, listening comprehension and oral production activities) by:

  • recording live audio
  • recording Podcasts and audio clips from the Internet
  • editing audio files (cut, copy, paste)
  • mixing sounds together
  • applying different effects on the audio file (such as changing the speed or pitch of a recording, removing noise, amplifying sounds)
  • converting old tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs
  • exporting audio files in formats such as MP3, WAV, AIFF or Ogg Vorbis

B. Why would I want to use Audacity® for my teaching?

1. Because it allows you to expose students to a diversity of authentic L2 audio resources.
You can record radio programs (or the audio track of a TV program), music and songs from ITunes, Podcasts and audio clips from the Internet, authentic interactions between native speakers, etc. and easily develop listening comprehension activities using the editing tools of Audacity®.
2. Because it enables you to continue to use analogue resources in a digital environment.
If you have been teaching for a while, you have probably developed a collection of interesting audio resources on tapes over the years. Audacity® allows you to digitalize all these analogue resources for easier, more flexible and more diverse uses (for instance, you can share them with your students and your colleagues more easily, edit them, etc.).
3. Because it allows you to develop custom pronunciation activities.
Using the editing and the sound effects tools of Audacity® (cutting, copying, and pasting audio clips, changing the speed or pitch of a recording, removing noise, amplifying sound, adding silences), it becomes very easy to create activities specific to the pronunciation needs of one or several students, in a face-to-face or online environment.
4. Because it supports the development of metacognitive skills and strategies of your students.
Students can easily listen, visualize, and compare all or very specific parts of their (or their peers’) recorded productions. They can save their oral productions to listen to them again later on and assess/monitor their progress (as part of for their student portfolio).
5. Because it encourages creativity.
Teachers AND students can easily create audio and musical documents in L2
6. Because it facilitates a task-based approach to learning.
It allows students to learn the language while creating original audio resources (learning by doing).
7. Because it appeals to the students – this technology is part of their world.
For instance, your students are likely to have used Audacity® to export songs and audio files in MP3, edit audio files, or mix sounds together for their mobile devices.

Just like with any other classroom material, you need to keep the pedagogical considerations in mind (e.g. learning objectives, authenticity, language focus, task-based approach, etc.). To explore these in more detail visit section D: Pedagogical considerations and sample activity.

This initiative is carried out within the framework of a cooperation agreement between the European Centre for Modern Languages and the European Commission, entitled INNOVATIVE METHODOLOGIES AND ASSESSMENT IN LANGUAGE LEARNING