Impressive, free (and dated) JLU’s language learning resourcess

The Joint Language University (JLU) provides free downloadable language courses. I have stumbled upon them while searching for the Portuguese learning resources, and I was pleased to discover more languages.

The JLU Free Language Courses

An graphic elements in a dated JLU language course
A picture in a dated JLU language course

If you point your browser to the JLU’s address you will open a page with the following language courses: Albanian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Dari, Dutch, Egyptian Arabic, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hungarian, Indonesian, Iraqi Arabic, Korean, Maranao, MSA, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Syrian Arabic, Tausug, Thai, and Vietnamese.

The courses vary in quality and extent. For example, the Portuguese course contains several books and audio resources, while the Serbian is much smaller and lacks audio. The Russian resources are extensive. The Arabic courses are impressive, with EgyptianIraqiSyrian and MSA. But, there is a catch.

Free courses, but dated language courses

Portuguese course sample page
A Portuguese course from 1960s, created on a mechanical typewriter

The good thing about the JLU free resources is that they are, well, free. Not so good about them is that they are very dated and, form the point of view of a general learner or speaker, overly military (due to its origin and purpose).

Some of the materials are from 1960s. For example, the Portuguese course was created in 1968 (the PDF is scanned mechanically typewritten content, and the MP3 is converted from tapes). The Portuguese language underwent several orthographic reforms in the meantime, which the JLU course renders more of a research material than a learning material.

I assume that “dated” is a relative term for some languages, but it is up to a learner (or mentor) to give the final judgement. However, a half of a century is a lot in terms of a current and relevant learning material. The methods in language teaching have also been updated since 60s.

The JLU language courses listed in this text are not modern, but they can be useful to linguists and language enthusiasts (even though some courses are incomplete). You can have a look at their other public materials here, but be ready for not so friendly web interface.

Create Grammar Tests Online

If you wish to create a grammar test online for free and share it with everybody, you can do it on Jotpub. It’s one of the features I built-in the website. Here is how to make a test, download it as PDF and share a link (to your students or other people interested).

Insert questions and answers in your grammar test

  1. First, register here. I have simplified the process. It’s really necessary so you can have proper credits and edit the test, and for me to fight spammers and copyright breachers.
  2. Then, go to Create page and fill in the info about the test. That includes Title, Description, Instructions, and Tags. These are all important, but I won’t go into details why. Categories is something I will add as an editor, because these items are predefined in the system.
  3. Finally, add some questions and answers! You can insert: Fill-in-the-blanks, True/False, Multiple with single correct and Multiple with several correct answers. The page is half-automated and I believe you will have no problems in figuring how to add and remove questions and answers. Here is a bit more help about the test creation.
  4. Of course, save your test!

Check and edit your language quiz

Interface for questions an answers
An English grammar test, as seen in an online test editor

Once your grammar test is saved and created, test is yourself: you have to do this in order to verify that your answers match your questions (that there are no mistakes). If you notice an error, just edit the test. Do this by going to About and then clicking on Edit this test (only authors and editors can modify). After you solve the error-free test yourself, distribute it to other language learners.

Distribute your grammar test link and PDF

You can now share your little language exam with other people. Visitors do not have to be registered to solve the test or see the results. As for the PDF, guess what, every test has its PDF version created automatically! Just click on Get the PDF link on the top of the page, or search for the link at the bottom.

Oh, did I mention already that this is all for free and without pesky ads?

 

Jotpub – Minimalistic Language Tests Platform

I am happy to announce a new website project, following several months of development: Jotpub.com, titled Minimalistic Language Tests Platform Jotpub is a website that enables anyone, from most modern devices, to solve, create, and share language tests, see the score and keep track of the solved tests — for free.

Purpose

Jotoub logo (green circle with white JP letters in it)
Jotpub

The purpose of Jotpub is to be a simple, creative, open, non-obstructive and trusted solution for language practice by online tests. It is simplistic in design and idea — there are too many complex learning platforms and Jotpub is not trying to be one. It is open, so all interested visitors can solve tests and check their answers, and thus non-obstructive. It encourages creativity  by giving an opportunity to all registered users (the registration is free and necessary so tests could have an author) to make and share tests. “Trusted” means that the author (and the editor) pays close attention to the sources of the selected tests and texts, and that only checked, reliable, content is visible to learners. All in all, Jotpub an attempt to reach, educate, and help language learners (an their teachers). And, yes, it’s free.

Features

Main features of Jotpub are focused on solving, creating, and sharing language tests. Solving is based on entering, checking, and revealing answers to “traditional” questions: fill in the blanks, true/false and multiple, with either one or several correct answers — try solving The Indefinite Article Basics or Articles from “Golden Bird” (a lengthy one). Creating is done on the website on a special page (Jotpub Test Maker) that uses a simple interface to create new language tests.  Sharing is made possible by publishing a page address (for now by using a third-party solution), and all authors can share the link to their tests.

How Language Tests on Jotpub Function

Fill-in-the-blanks - text and lozenges to enter answers
Fill-in-the-blanks, one of the questions on Jotpub

The language test are organized into  two main groups: by categories and tags. The categories follow a strict linguistic division, for example Grammar > Articles > All articles, while tags represent more loose, mixed, labeling (in the tag listings, the categories are tags as well). Users can browse the tests and then select one to solve. After entering the answers and clicking on Check my answers, the analysed test will appear, showing correct, incorrect and missing answers. Users can now redo the test, or reveal the answers (this option is available only when tests are first attempted).

If users are registered, their test is saved in Testbook,  so they can redo it later. Also, each listing has small symbols that show solved and attempted tests.

Jotpub has a nice printing style and only the relevant information for test solving is shown on the paper. You can copy it and share to your learners. You can also print solved tests.

Creating Language Tests

making multiple answers question on jotpub
Jotpub Test Maker – an example of creating a multiple select question.

The test creation is done in the Jotpub Test Maker — the page anyone can use, and the one I use to make all tests on Jotpub. After users register, they will be able to load the Test Maker  and enter their questions. Great attention was given to an attempt to make this as simple as possible. For example, to make a blank, just enter the sentence and enclose any word (or a letter) in square brackets ([like this]); for multiple select either one or several answers — this will render two types of questions.

The test are at first unlisted. This means they are not available to all users. After the test is checked it may be listed and visible to all visitors. However, all created tests can be shared if the test creator shares a link to it.

Further Plans For Jotpub

There are several plans regarding the future development of Jotpub. Some are focused on stability and optimization, and others on new features (particularly about statistics). For now, the  primary task is to see what users think abut the website, and what they would like to see changed, improved or added. You are invited to be one of the visitors to solve some tests!