Friday, November 30, 2012

Vocaroo: Literally voicing out your opinion.

Teachers would usually ask students to write their opinions. However, Vocaroo brings about a change in classroom as it allows students to literally voicing out their opinions and record them. Exciting, isn't it? Vocaroo is a free online voice recorder which allows sharing not only via emails and by embedding it to websites, but also across social networks such as facebook and twitter. If teacher knows how to manipulate this tool wisely, it can be a very useful teaching material.

How to use it?

a) Create

Using vocaroo is very easy. The steps are as follows: 

To start recording, click "Click to Record."

When you're done, click "Click to Stop".

You can listen to your recording by clicking "Listen". If you are not satisfy with your recording and want to redo it, click "Retry".

When you are happy with your recording, click "Click here to save".

b) Share

1. Via email: Click "Email". A pop-up window will appear. Fill in the required field, and click "Send.

2. Embed to website: Click "Embed". Copy HTML code in the highlighted box and paste it where necessary.

3. Across webs and social networks: Simply share the link provided or click the provided button to share to respective network.

c) Other features

1. Download: You can save your recording by downloading it in various format. To download, click the desired format. Available formats are mp3, ogg, flac, wav. 

How could it be used in language teaching?

1. Assessing learners' speaking skill
Teacher asks each learner to create a blog which will be used as repository. Every week, teacher will introduce a few topics.  Learners will have to give their opinions on the topic which they favour and record them using Vocaroo. Then, they will need to embed the recording to their blog respectively.It should be noted that topics introduced should cover learners' interest so that they will be motivated to speak.

2. Pronunciation activity
Teacher will play an audio recording of a text. Then, teacher asks learners to read the same text aloud and record it using Vocaroo. Learners will listen to their own recording respectively and compare to the original recording. Having to do self-evaluation is believed to help learners improve on their pronunciation immensely because the improvisation occurs consciously as they will be aware of their mistake and weakness.

3. Speaking journal
Usually, teacher will ask learners to write journal. Vocaroo, however, allows speaking journal. Teacher will ask learners to produce one recording per week. In the recording, they can talk about anything (themselves, their life, a topic of interest, etc). The purpose is to build learners' confidence in using second language as well as encourage fluency.

4. Pre-reading/Pre-writing stimulus
Teacher can make an audio recording which related to the text or topic of the essay and play it in the classroom as a stimulus for a reading or writing lesson. 

5. Post-reading activity
After reading a text, teacher will ask learners to talk or give comment about the text and record it using Vocaroo. This activity helps teacher to check learners' understanding of the text.

  1. The tool is free and user-friendly.
  2. Doing assessment using Vocaroo helps to lower learners' affective filter as compared to having them speaking face-to-face to the teacher. Thus, allowing them to portray their real language ability.
  3. Accommodate learners who lacks self-confidence to speak in classroom.
  4. Re-record function allows learners to present their best product to teacher and fellows friends.

  1. Recording time is limited to 5 minutes only.
  2. Require internet connection.
This is an example of audio recording using Vocaroo which I've made myself:

Audio recording and upload >>

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bubblr: A new paradigm in doing presentation

The ideas of doing presentation on board, papers or Microsoft Powerpoint has become too typical that students begin to lose interest in doing the task (what's more listening to the teacher/peers' presentation). Hence, Bubblr - a tool which creates comic strips using photos from flickr - provides teachers and learners a new paradigm in doing presentation which promises more fun and excitement! This tool is not only free, but also allows users to share their masterpiece with friends through emails or by embedding it to their website.

How to use it?

a) Create

1. Look for images by inserting keywords that are related/applicable to the theme/topic inside the 'tag' box. If you want to look for any images own by specific person on flick, enter their username inside the 'user' box.

2. Click 'go'. If there is no image appears as shown in the picture below, try again using other keywords.

3. Drag selected picture into frame provided. If you wish to change the image, just drag another picture into the frame. If you want to permanently remove the picture, click 'delete'.

4. If you wish to add bubbles to the slide, drag selected bubble into the frame and drop it where you wish. To add text, double click inside the bubble.

5. To add a new frame, click 'After current'. If you wish to add a new frame before any slide, click on the respective slide. Then, click 'Before current'.

6. After you are satisfied with the slide, click 'Publish'.

7. Finally, insert the title and your name. Then, click 'Done'.

Here is the example of the strip that I've made:

b) Share

1. Through emails: Enter email(s) of your friend(s) inside the 'Send to' box and then, click 'Send'.

2. Embed to websites: Firstly, click 'Blog this'. There are two options available on how you would like to embed the strip - slideshow and link. Decide an option, copy the html code provided and paste it to your blog editor.

Option 1: Slideshow

Option 2: Link

c) Other features available

1. Print the slide: To print the slide, click 'Print.'

2. Retrieve the slide: To retrieve the slide, go to the website homepage and click '.. or visit the archive.' Insert your strip title into the search box and click 'Enter'.

3. Edit the slide: Click 'Recycle this strip' and you may do the editing.

How could it be used in language teaching?

1. Pre-reading activity
Teacher can use Bubblr to show pictures as an introduction the theme of the reading. Using pictures can help to stimulate learners and capture their attention.

2. Post-reading activity
Teacher asks learners to create a mind map of the summary of the text. Learners will present their ideas using Bubblr.

3. Pre-writing activity
Teacher asks learners to work in pairs and brainstorm their ideas on the story line of a narrative essay. Later, they need to present their ideas using Bubblr.

4. Task-based learning
Teacher can ask students to use Bubblr as a mean to present their task. Incorporating technology into task is believed to be motivating for students to complete the task at their best.


  1. This tool is user-friendly and hence, suitable for learners with low technology-related skill.
  2. It is less time-consuming to publish a presentation as compared to Microsoft Powerpoint.
  3. Pictures allows students to expand their thinking, become more creative as well as enhance their imagination.
  4. Users can edit their presentation to do any correction. Hence, allowing teacher to give feedback and assess learners' progress in learning.
  5. Helpful for teachers to accommodate multiple-intelligence (e.g. visual, linguistic).
  1. It is quite hard to find suitable pictures on flickr. Users have to try multiple keywords to get the best picture that suits the topic/story line.
  2. The bubbles cannot be expanded and thus, limiting the writing.
  3. Lack of features which are needed to enhance the attraction of the slide: (e.g. music background. font, font colours, font size)
Despite its disadvantages, this tool is really recommended especially for instant presentation. After all, it depends on the teachers on how they would exploit this tool to make the lesson more interactive and fun.

For further understanding on how to use Bubblr, you may check out this video.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sing it and spell it: Lyrics Training

Traditional listening activity which involves listening to audio recording can be boring because it is too common. Hence, Lyrics training brings about a revolution in listening activity. Lyrics training is a tool in which challenges users to transcribe the lyrics while listening to the song. This tool will surely be fun when incorporated into language classroom. Let's check it out!

How to use it?

Using Lyrics training is very simple. Go to the website homepage, search for your favourite song, select the game mode (beginner, intermediate, or expert) and have fun filling in the blank. This tool is definitely user-friendly!

These are guide to game control:
You can find this instruction box by clicking 'Help' button under the video clip

How could it be used in language teaching?

Generally, Lyrics training is useful for learners to practice their listening skill. As compared to audio recording of a text being read aloud, song is more engaging for both young and adult learners. Moreover, they can choose the song which they would want to listen to. Also, Lyrics training allows self evaluation. Learners will get feedback immediately after they finished transcribing the song. As they keep playing the game, they can monitor their own progress. When they are conscious about their own skill development, they will be more motivated to use the second language.

  1. The tool is free and user-friendly.
  2. Accommodate learners of different levels of language ability. Learners can select the level that suits them when playing the game. For lower level learner, they would not find any difficulty which can demotivate them and hinder learning process.
  3. Song is known to be an authentic material. Using authentic material in language classroom is believed to be more motivating for students to participate in classroom activity.
  4. Songs in Lyrics training are current and up-to-date and therefore, keeping up with learners' interest. 
  5. Using song for listening activity is more fun. As a result, it promotes independent learning. Students who find this tool interesting may continue using it outside classroom environment.
  6. Other than promoting effective listening skill, learners can also learn correct pronunciation and new vocabularies from the song.
  1. Require internet connection if it is to be used in the classroom.
  2. Certain songs may contain profanity that are not suitable for young learners.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Learning is more enjoyable with Dvolver Movie Maker

Learning can be more enjoyable and fun with Dvolver Movie Maker. It is a tool which enables users to create their own short animated movies. Users can personalized the movie as they can choose not only the scenarios, but also the background of the scene and the characters involved. After users have created the movie, they may share it with their friends through email and also by embedding the movie to their websites. So far, more than 8 million movies have been produced using this tool. It is surely a hit!

How to use it?

a) Create

This tool is user-friendly. Users may enjoy their own short film in just 8 steps.

1. On the homepage of the website, click 'Make a Movie'.

2. Afterwards, choose your preferred background of the scene by clicking on the respective box. You can select the place setting and also the sky to suit the mood of the scene. Then, click 'Next'.

3. Choose the desired scenarios for the scene. To proceed, click 'Next'.

4. Choose the characters involved in the scene. Before clicking 'Next', you can refer to highlighted box to ensure that you have clicked on the right characters which you have chosen.

5. Insert dialogue into the provided box. Note that number of characters for each box is limited to 100 characters only. After you have finished, click 'Next'.

6. Select a background music for the scene to enhance the mood. However, if you prefer not to put any music background, click 'No music.'

7. If you are satisfied with the movie, click 'Finish movie.' If you want to add more scenes, click 'Add new scene.' However, if you wish to edit the movie (setting, dialogue, or even characters), just click 'Back.'

8. Finally, insert the movie title and the director's name. Also, don't forget to select the title design by clicking the preferred box. 

After these 8 steps, you are done! Now, you may enjoy your own animated movie.

Here is an example of an animated movie that I've made myself:

b) Share

1. Through email: Users may email their movie to friends by clicking on 'Preview and send movie.' After that, insert receivers' name, their emails and also the sender's name. Then, click on 'Send'.

2. Embed to websites: Users may embed their own movie by copying the html code in the highlighted box and paste them where necessary.

How could it be used in language teaching?

1. Teaching vocabulary
Teacher introduces a set of vocabulary to students. Ask students to create a scene in which they will need to use the words. 

2. Teaching grammar/sentence structure
Teacher introduces a grammar point or sentence structure. Ask students to apply the grammar point/sentence structure in the dialogue. For example, in the movie which I've made, one notable structure is present continuous tense: e.g. I'm coming..., I'm having...

3. Practice functional exponents
Teacher introduces few functions to students and give example of their respective exponents. Ask students to create a scene that involves one or more functions which they learn and practice using the functional exponents.

  1. This tool is user-friendly. Teaching students to use it would not be time-consuming.
  2. This tool can help to motivate students as it allows creativity and involves imagination. Most learners would find this tool to be exciting and this attracts them to engage in learning.
  3. Learners can practice the language items learnt in context. This helps to enhance their understanding and reinforce their language skills.
  4. Using this tool as teaching-aid materials allows teacher to accommodate learners' multiple intelligence (e.g. visual, linguistic).
  5.  This tool allows introvert learners to express themselves. and hence, help teacher to monitor their understanding and progress in learning.

  1. To use this tool would require availability of internet connection, whilst not every student might have access to internet at home (if teacher sets the task as homework).
  2. The choice of characters are limited. The tool would be more exciting if learners can create their own characters.
  3. The characters have no facial expression and hence, it doesn't portray real communication in real world.
  4. The limited number of characters in each dialogue box could be a constraint for learners to express themselves freely.

Despite the disadvantages, this tool is highly recommended for teachers as a teaching-aid material to bring a whole new experience of fun and interactive learning to learners in language classroom.

For further understanding on how to use Dvolver movie maker, you may check out this youtube tutorial.