FLAn Authors’ Guidelines


Q: What are the FLAn Authors’ Guidelines?


A: These guidelines are for language experts who want to author learning units using FLAn (Foreign Language Annotator) for their students or the general public. Adherence to these Guidelines is voluntary. However, it is highly encouraged to maximize consistency and quality.


Your FLAn units are distributed in the Share Area of RedHotWords.com. These units do not go through an approval process.


This document covers the procedures for the creation, submission and distribution of the FLAn units that you create.


In addition, it lists resources available to help you create your hypermedia learning units, which we’ll call FLAn units from now on.


And it covers the specifications for different parts of the FLAn units, for example, specifications for sound recordings, font styles, font colors, glossing, etc.




Q: Are there any specialized terms that I should know before starting?


A: Yes. Here they are:


hypermedia (our definition) - Digital text that can be clicked to access different kinds of media (text, images, animations, audio, video, Web links) to help the student learn the meaning of the clicked text.


L1 - Native language of student.


L2 - Foreign language that the student is learning.


gloss - Word or phrase to which information is attached to help students learn that word or phrase.


annotation - Basically, the same thing as gloss .


FLAn - Acronym stands for Foreign Language Annotator, a free hypermedia editor available through RedHotWords.com.


FLAn CD - A special version of FLAn for making hypermedia units in Chinese, Japanese or any language that  doesn't have spaces between words. CD stands for 'Click and Drag'. To select words or phrases to gloss, you 'click and drag' over them rather than just click on them the way you do in the regular version of FLAn


RedHotWords.com - Company that distributes FLAn and sells hypermedia units created with FLAn .



NOTE: All words in the Guidelines that are bold and blue are clickable Web links.



Three Steps for FLAn Authors


There are 3 steps for authors of FLAn units; Creation, Submission, Distribution. The details that you are about to read cover everything that you need to know to about the whole process.


Step 1 - Creation


Note: If you aren't familiar with how to use FLAn, you should check out the resources on the For Authors page. You will find tutorial videos and you should look at all of them before attempting to create a FLAn unit in order to see the big picture. Below are a few video clips to help you get started. Each step in these Guidelines has an accompanying Demo Video.


(Video Demo-Download FLAn)
(Video Demo-Before You Start)
(Video Demo-Start Editing)
(Video Demo-Enter Main Text)


In this step you create a hypermedia learning unit using FLAn.


If  you don’t have FLAn, you can download a free Mac or PC version at redhotwords.com. You should use the latest version of FLAn. FLAn is updated on a regular basis so if a few weeks go by between projects, check the Web site to ensure that you’re using the most recent version. The latest update is on the Downloads page.


You can check the date of the FLAn version that you’re using by placing the cursor in the upper left corner of the FLAn window (where you go to enter EDIT MODE). A little box with the date will appear. If the date is earlier than the date on the Downloads page, you should download the most recent version and use that instead.


To learn how to use FLAn, use the resources on the Authors page. There you’ll find a manual, video tutorials, an online workshop, resource list, etc.


You will need to determine which category that you are authoring for (English for Spanish Speakers, German for English Speakers, etc.). If you want to create a FLAn unit for a category not listed in the Share Area, just send us a request on the Feedback Form and we’ll add it. We’ll even add Klingon for Japanese Speakers if you’re willing to create the units. Click here to see the current language categories in the Share Area.


For each category there are also sub-categories for different types of text. The subcategories are:


Useful Phrases (different units for different topics; Weather, Time, etc.)


Dialogs (short conversations on various topics)


Articles (must be copyright free or you must get publisher’s permission)


Jokes (keep them clean, RedHotWords is for all age groups)


Song Lyrics (if you can’t get copyright permission to use the song, you may be able to link to a Web site that has a recording of the song)


Shorts (personal ads, obituaries, advertisements, etc.)


Transcripts  (transcripts of audio recordings or video clips)                


Literature (excerpts from literary works, poetry, digitized books, etc.)




If you would like to suggest a new category, send us feedback by clicking here.


It is very important that you do the following BEFORE you start glossing and adding media:


-Make sure that FLAn, the unit that you’re creating and all audio and / or video files are in the same folder. If these items are outside the folder there may be path problems and FLAn won’t be able to find the files when it needs them.


-Name the folder the same as the title of the unit. Make it as short as you can.



IMPORTANT! For pedagogical and technical reasons, you should not have more than 50 glosses or so per FLAn unit. For larger texts, break them up into Part 1, Part 2, etc.



A NOTE ON COPYRIGHT All images, videos, audio recordings and texts are copyrighted and you must get the copyright holder’s permission to use them. If you create original material, the material is copyrighted as soon as the material is created and you are the copyright holder.


This is also important; you can’t copyright a conversation but you can copyright a recording of a conversation. You can’t copyright a joke, but you can copyright a recording of a joke. Titles cannot be copyrighted either. Older materials, such as poems written in the 19th Century are in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions).


TECH HELP If you get stuck you can to the following:


-check the Tech FAQ page at http://redhotwords.com/techfaq
-send a request for help through the Feedback Form



GUIDELINES Adherence to these Guidelines is voluntary. However, we highly recommend them for the sake of consistent quality.



1. GLOSS L2 (foreign language) text. (Video Demo)


Comments: If you're glossing text for beginning students, all the words or phrases in the text should be glossed. For

intermediate or advanced students it may be sufficient to just gloss keywords. For beginning students you may use an L1 translation and for other students an L2 definition.You should gloss phrases rather than individual words whenever possible.


Here are some examples of the types of phrases that we mean:


-adjectives with nouns (cold day)

-adverbs with verbs (walked quickly)

-idiomatic expressions (raining cats and dogs)

-prepositional phrases (on top of the table)



Of course, each language is unique so this won’t always apply. But the idea is to gloss chunks of words that fit together logically, semantically or syntactically. This is very important for pedagogical reasons and also technical reasons. It’s the best way to keep the number of glosses below the recommended maximum of 50 per unit.


As far as style in the translation field of the data card goes, here are some pointers:


-if the translation requires words that are not in L2, then put them in italics and in ( )


              “come mucho” 
                          (she) eats a lot


-if there is more than one possible translation, separate with  /


                          nun / jetzt



2. Include comments, explanations or grammar notes, etc. where appropriate. (Video Demo)

Comments: The upper right field of the FLAn unit is for text-based information about the  gloss. The information might be a grammar note, commentary, explanation, etc. This field will have different uses for different languages. It is somewhat ‘free form’ but for the sake of consistency we have some examples and pointers. Notice that L2 is in red and, when possible, bold. Here are the examples:


To show a breakdown of compound nouns  (L2 is red and bold)


sauer - sour
Kraut - cabbage


日本 - Japanese
- language

To show the complete conjugation of a verb in a given tense


como - I eat
comes - you eat



To complete a set


martes - Tuesday
miércoles - Wednesday


To expand a concept


Hilfe! - Help!
helfen - to help
erste Hilfe - first aid


To show literal translations: It's raining cats and dogs.

To explain a grammar concept or make a grammatical note.

To show the plural or singular forms of a noun.

To indicate gender.

To give cultural notes.

To explain grammatical anomalies or exceptions to the rule.
To explain nuances of a word or phrase.
To show opposites (cold, hot / short, tall).
To show forms of adjectives (good, better, best).


As far as style goes, when writing information in the field in the upper right, please follow these conventions:


-L2 in red and, if possible, in bold (some fonts won’t do bold): Sauerkraut, 日 本

-L1 in black and plain for translations: 日本 - Japanese

-L1 otherwise in black, bold: The word Hilfe means help or aid.

-Grammar terms are capitalized: PERSONAL PRONOUN

-For literal translations: Literally: I must me on the socks make



3. Include relevant Web links. (Video Demo)  


Comments: One of the media that you can attach to a gloss is a Web link. For example, if the gloss is a verb in the past tense, you may link the gloss to a Web site about the construction of the past tense.



4. Add images or animations to glosses. (Video Demo)   


Comments: Many studies have shown that images used in hypermedia can have a strong impact on comprehension and retention when it comes to language learning. We strongly recommend that you include an image or animation for all glosses wherever it’s appropriate. Images can be in .gif, .jpg, or .png formats. The maximum size of a gloss image is 374 wide x 205 high. If the image is larger than that, you should reduce it in size to 374 x 205 using Photoshop or a similar program before importing it into FLAn. You can also go to picnik.com, a free Web site that lets you do this online.



5. Add a main image. (Video Demo)                                                                                                                    


Comments: The main image is the one that appears when the FLAn unit is opened. It provides a visual introduction to the FLAn unit. If the unit is about cavemen then an image of a caveman would be appropriate. Images are cognitively stimulating to the student, especially in an environment that‘s based mostly on text. Images can be in .gif, .jpg, or .png formats. The maximum size of a main image is 394 wide x 366 high. If the image is larger than that, you should reduce it in size to 394 x 366 using Photoshop or a similar program before importing it into FLAn. You can also go to picnik.com, a free Web site that lets you do this online.



6. Include an audio recording OR video clip of the L2 text. (Video Demo-Audio) (Video Demo-Video)


Comments: The main L2 text should be recorded and imported into the FLAn unit as an .mp3 file. This gives the student another way to process the text and greatly increases the pedagogical value of the unit. Here is some information about creating audio and video recordings:


You can make recordings using a free program like Audacity (Mac and PC) or Garage Band (free on Macintosh). If you use Audacity, you have to include the LAME plug-in to export an .mp3 file. The .mp3 format is what we need for commercial FLAn units.


The file settings should be 16 bit, 22 khz, mono.


The recordings should have no hiss, pops, echos, background noise, static or ‘empty room’ effect. The ‘empty room’ effect happens when the speaker’s mouth is too far from the microphone when making the recording.


'Pop' happens usually with the 'p' or 't' sounds. To prevent that, put a wind screen over your microphone. You can also drape a cloth over the microphone but make sure it's heavy enough so that it won't move when you talk into the mic. I use the type of cloth that's used for cleaning reading glasses. You can also hold three fingers between your mouth and the microphone.




7. Add an audio recording AND video clip for L2 text.                                                          


Comments: In some cases, the FLAn unit might be based on the transcript of a video. In that case, it’s a good idea to make an audio version of the video clip so that the learner can choose between the audio and video. For some learners the video may be distracting.



8. Add an audio recording for the glossary with a recording of L1. (Video Demo)

Comments: When you gloss words and phrases in FLAn, a glossary is automatically generated. You can make a recording of the glossary to help the learner with pronunciation. I highly recommend that you speak the L2 words and phrases slowly and enunciate very clearly when you record the glossary. Think pronunciation.



9. Add an audio recording for the glossary with a recording of L1 & L2.  

Comments: The glossary will show the L2 word in bold and the L1 translation or L2 definition below it. When you record both L2 and L1, this is particularly beneficial to auditory learners and greatly increases the pedagogical value of the unit.



10. Record all audio at 22 KHz, 16-bit, mono.  


Comments: Here’s some technical information about audio. You will likely use a program like Audacity (a free program for recording and editing voice, Mac & PC) to make your audio files. Recording programs usually have settings that need to be adjusted beforehand. Audacity can export .wav files (or .mp3 files with the LAME plug-in). If you don’t want to bother with the LAME plug-in you can convert the .wav file to .mp3 with a program like Switch.



11. Be sure that audio and video have no hiss, background noise, echo, ‘pop’, aspiration or ‘empty room’ effect.


Comments: The quality of the audio in a FLAn unit is very important, especially for beginning students.



12. Audio and / or video speakers should be native speakers or indistinguishable from native speakers. The regional accent(s) of the speaker(s) should be mentioned in the CREDITS section.

: This recommendation exists because students should use native speaker pronunciation as their model. Different native regional accents are acceptable for FLAn units except for those that might be an extreme departure from generally understandable accents. For example, for English a standard American, Australian or British accent would be OK. However, there are extremes in all those accent groups and they should be avoided unless you want to set up a category in the Share Area for that.

It is very important to mention the regional accent of the speakers in the CREDITS section of

Universally understood regional accent variations might be mentioned in the Credits Section too, for example, German (Bavaria).
Contrast this with Bavarian, which is a German dialect not universally understood by German speakers and should be placed in its own separate category.

Some non-native speakers may have accents that are indistinguishable from that of native speakers. The litmus test for this is whether a native speaker can perceive the difference. If you’re considering using a non-native speaker for your audio recordings and you are not a native speaker yourself, please have a native speaker listen to the recording to make an objective determination.



13. Use the highlighting feature for the audio text. (Video Demo)                                                                                                       


Comments: You can set up your unit so that when a line is heard in an audio clip, the corresponding line in the text turns red. This makes it easier for the student to follow the text.



14. Use the highlighting feature for the video text. (Video Demo)                                                                                              

Comments: You can set up your unit so that when a line is heard in an video clip, the corresponding line in the text turns red. This makes it easier for the student to follow the text.



15. Use the highlighting feature for the glossary audio. (Video Demo)                                               


Comments: You can set up your unit so that when a line is heard in an audio recording of the glossary, the corresponding line in the glossary turns red. This makes it easier for the student to follow the text in the glossary.



16. Include a global translation. (Video Demo)                                                                                                                               


Comments: You should include a global L1 translation of the L2 text, if appropriate. This helps the student see the ‘big picture’. Don’t write a literal translation. Write a translation that captures the general meaning, but sounds normal to the learner. The glosses will cover details but the global translation covers the general meaning, Some categories such as English for Speakers of Other Languages are meant for students who don’t necessarily speak the same native language. In this case, you might write a simplified version of the text instead of a translation .



17. Write information in the CULTURE section. (Video Demo)                                                                   


Comments: You can write text about culture in the CULTURE SECTION. This section is for the L2 text as a whole. You can also add culture comments for specific glosses on the datacard for that specific gloss.



18. Add links in the CULTURE section.  (See Video Demo in #17)                                                                


Comments: you can also add up to 5 links to Web sites dealing with cultural issues mentioned in the L2 text. You should check the links periodically to make sure there are no ‘dead’ ones. If you find a dead link, send us feedback telling us which link is dead and which link should replace it.



19. Add links in the REFERENCE section.  (Video Demo)                                                        


Comments: The REFERENCE section contains up to 5 Web links to sites that can be used as general references such as a dictionary, verb conjugator, grammar reference, etc.



20. Add information in the CREDITS section. (Video Demo)

: There is a CREDITS section where you acknowledge everyone who helped you create your FLAn unit. You edit this section as you would using a word processor. You can add lines as you wish and use the FLAn menubar to change font styles.

At the end of the CREDITS section are the names of people who helped me develop FLAn. Please leave those name there because they really, really deserve to be recognized, thank you very much!



21. Create online exercises or activities. (Video Demo)                                      


Comments: Follow-up activities and exercises are crucial for reinforcing the material in your unit. Providing such materials greatly enhances the pedagogical value of your unit.


The QUIZ section of FLAn allows you to link to online activities and exercises that you create. Although there are different ways to do this, we highly recommend Quia Web, which has 10 different exercise formats and 16 activity formats. You can add up to 5 such quizzes or activities in each FLAn unit.      


Quia Web is an online service that lets you create activities and exercises by simply entering content. You don’t need any programming skills. It’s also extremely well-suited to foreign language learning since it handles various writing systems very well and even includes character palettes for dozens of languages.


Quia Web also lets you attach images, video and audio to the activites and exercises.             


Click here to find out more about Quia Web.


A yearly subscription to Quia Web costs $49.


After you create your Quia Web activities and exercises, you share them with us and we import them into our own Quia Web account.


There are also free alternatives for creating online quizzes and activities. To see a list of them click here.




Step 2 - Submission


Submitting your FLAn unit is very easy. (Video Demo)


Name the folder with the FLAn unit and compress it into a single .zip file.


Comments: When you submit your FLAn unit, everything should be contained in a single folder. This includes:


-your FLAn unit

-external audio file and / or video file


NOTE: Remove any of the images from the folder that you may have used in creating the FLAn unit. You won't need them anymore.


Before you started glossing and importing media into your unit, you should have given the folder the same name as the title of FLAn unit. This name is important because it’s part of the path name to your audio and video files. If you change the name AFTER you start glossing, there will be a change in the path name and your unit won’t be able to find the audio and video clip.


You must compress your folder into a .zip file. This creates a single file that can be uploaded. Before ‘zipping’ the folder, remove all image files from the folder. They won’t be needed anymore. Also, remove FLAn from the folder. After you submit the file to us, we unzip it and put the unit through the approval process.


If you don’t know how to ‘zip’ a file,  here are the instructions:


On Macintosh, right-click on the folder and select “Compress <name of folder>”. A .zip file with the same name as the folder will then appear. Send us the .zip file only.


On PC ( Windows 7), right-click on the folder and select “Send to...” > “Compressed (zipped) folder”. A .zip file will then appear. Send us the .zip file only.


Now all you have to do is go to the Upload page. There you'll upload your file to the server and then fill in a short Submissions Form.


We will then do the following:

-test the unit
-prepare it for both Macintosh and PC
-give it a unique number that teachers can refer to when making assignments to their students
-put it into the Share Area in the appropriate category




Step 3 - Distribution


Students simply go to the Share Area, find the FLAn unit that they want, and then click on it to download it onto their hard drives.


Students will be downloading a compressed .zip file so they'll have to decompress the file in order to see the folder with your FLAn unit.


To decompress on a Mac, just double-click on the .zip file.


To decompress on a PC, right-click on the .zip file and select EXTRACT from the menu.




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