The audiocassette is dead. Actually, it's been comatose for some time now, but it really hit me when I recently looked at our circulation statistics. In the Fall semester of 1996 we circulated 12,059 audiocassettes from the Learning Lab. In the Fall of 2004 we circulated 660. In Spring 2005, 378. In the commercial world, of course, audiocassettes were replaced by compact disks. However, LSS decided that instead of investing heavily in yet another form of media that would have to be mass-copied and circulated one by one, we'd do what major record companies resisted for so long: we'd deliver the goods via the web.
Thus was born the Digital Language Lab, (or Learning Lab...it's an ongoing debate in the department), or the DLL for short.How logical, how cost effective, how elegant a solution to 600 freshmen all needing the same Spanish 101 audiotape on Sunday night! Seems like a no-brainer, right? But convincing publishers to allow us to digitize their copyrighted materials and put them on the web has been anything but easy. For most of the materials on the DLL we have an agreement with the publisher that prevents us from allowing anyone but a UW-Madison campus student who is using their textbook for a for-credit course access. To that end, you need a special ID and password to gain access to the recordings themselves.
However, there is a special group of language materials that needs no password. These materials were produced right here in the LSS recording Studio by UW-Madison faculty and staff over the years. Most of the materials are in less commonly taught languages, and most were recorded in the 1970's. Some of the sets are in languages for which there are very few audio learning materials available anywhere. Included are sets of tapes for French Phonetics, including the delightful "Candid Conversations" recorded by the late Yvonne Ozzello, Hausa, Latin, Shona, Hindi-Urdu, Portuguese, Geshe Sopa's unique "Lectures on Tibetan Religious Culture", Telugu, Xhosa, and Tamazight. We'll be adding more sets as we digitize them from their original open-reel tape format.
To find the free materials, look for sets without an asterisk (*) on the DLL page or scroll down to the Archive link on the same page. Texts the materials are based on are sometimes still available from UW language departments, and sometimes they are available for loan in 259 Van Hise Hall.