Tellagami – Short and simple animated videos

Tellagami is a very easy to use application for iOS and Android in which you can make short videos called “Gamis”. Similar to Voki (Vodcasting) you have to use an avatar, which is a digital character. With this virtual person you will have the possibility to tell stories, poems, make presentations, etc. using your own voice. In this way you can help your students develop their confidence while practicing speaking, help them with their motivation and engagement with the class, and work collaboratively while creating or editing their video projects.

The first step to use this apps is to go to the AppStore or Google Play and download it. Once installed, you just have to follow the basic tutorial to learn how to use it and start creating your first Gami.  One of the good things of this app is that there is no need to create an account, so you do not have to waste time filling in forms and login in to use it.

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After that, you have to customize your character with the different options available. Most of them are available for free with the possibility to use the in-app purchase if you want more possibilities.

Then you have to change the background. Again you have a limited set of scenarios called packs. But there are three options here that are really useful: Camera, Library and Doodle.

  • Camera: You can use your smartphone camera to create a custom image background, giving you the possibility to use real escenarios.
  • Library: You can access your phone photo gallery and use one of your pictures stored there.
  • Doodle: A very basic option but with lots of potential. Change the background to green, blue or any color, you can also use the brush to draw or write and erase with the rubber.

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Once you are done with this you can proceed to record your voice. Just tap the message bubble, then voice and finally record. You have 30 seconds for free and the possibility to buy 90 seconds and a text-to-speech option.

Finally using the share icon you can preview your recording, save it on your device or upload it and share the video link which is stored in the Tellagami website.

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Appsmash

If you want to experiment the full potential of your Gami to be use in the classroom as a project. You can use the doodle option. For example, use a green background, record a video, then import it to iMovie or similar, add audio, other pictures, etc. and create a story. This is called and Appsmash.

App smashing involves the following steps:

  1. Create content with one app.
  2. Create content with another app (or apps).
  3. Merge content together (smashing).
  4. Publish content to the web.

 

More information here:

 

An example video:


Limitations

The possibilities are endless, but there are some limitations.

With the free version, you have some limited options to personalize your digital character: the physical appearance, the clothing items and the background. Another limitation is the length of the video which is tied to only 30 seconds in this version. This freemium app can be a bit pricey. Be careful with the in-app purchase options or it can cost you a lot. As you can see above using it together with other apps is a good idea but it is also time consuming, and sometimes you just need an app that works.

 

I suggest you to use this tool in a project based classroom and always in combination with other apps. Don’t be afraid try Tellegami!

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Lingua.ly – Learn new words from every website

Lingua.ly was born under the promise of learning a new language as you read the web collecting words, defining them with pictures and example sentences, and then practicing when the time is right, at your own pace and wherever you are.

This vocabulary tool  is an innovative way to learn a language online, you can use it in your web-browser or in your mobile devices. As I mentioned before you have the possibility to  collect new vocabulary words from any web page you are reading, which is very useful when you are starting to read and do not remember the translation of a certain word. Once you install the extension in your browser then you just have to double click the word you do not know and the built in smart dictionary translate it for you and add it to your set of flashcards, which gives you the possibility  to practice your new vocabulary later.

If you login in the website you will also have the the opportunity to test yourself with our games and quizzes. In this way gamification elements produce an engagement with the user as it challenges him/her to practice and beat their previous records while having fun, and they can also share their progress using the social media buttons.

The website promotes the following slogan “The more you study with Lingua.ly, the more Lingua.ly studies you!” which is essential to differentiate this application from other similar alternatives such as Duolingo or Busuu, as it learns about your progress and suggests more advanced articles from the web to get the best results. You can also choose the topics you want to read about, so you can have a personalised language learning experience.

The flexibility of Lingua.ly is also present in the mobile apps (iOS and Android), in which you do not see a formal class structure but your progress to acquire new vocabulary at your own pace. The academics behind Lingua.ly based their product under the glossing approach, which idea is to provide the definitions, whether brief or long, of key vocabulary terms alongside the text in which they appear to get a more precise interpretation of it.

How does the web app works?

It is not only about vocabulary or reading

When using Lingua.ly you can also practice your pronunciation as you can listen to the definition of the words. Another idea to practice speaking and listening skills is to make a story telling based on your flashcards with the new words or read aloud the lines of the articles where you get them.

The drawbacks

One of the main drawback of this application is that you really need at least a basic level of the language you are trying to practice, as sometimes definitions can not be so clear or gives you another use of the word. You have to be careful discriminating the vocabulary words you get. Try not to use advanced words from the beginning, keep it simple and go step-by-step. There are no ways to collaborate with others in real time, you can just challenge them to play using their own devices and without interaction. The last but least important disadvantage is that an internet connection is necesary to fully operate Lingua.ly in your devices.

Finally if you really want to get the best from this app and learn you have to keep in mind that it requires a lot of self-discipline and practice to master a second language, so don’t give up!

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Voxopop – online voice discussions and learning

Voxopop is a web application program, it is also quite simple to manage and you can use it as an online learning tool to create podcasts, speaking forums or threads based on one particular topic. Here questions are asked using voice recordings instead of text and the answers are made in the same way, so It can be used to help students develop their oral speaking skills by having them reply to questions using voice recorded answers and by hearing the recorded answers from their classmates.

This collaboration tool is particularly useful in language teaching, where a teacher can post a question in the language they are teaching and have students respond orally to the question in the same language. Also to increase participation of all the students as it makes possible to reach all of them, something that it is quite hard to get in the classroom environment in which you certain constraints like the amount of students or time to develop speaking activities.

Strengths

There are many strengths in using Voxopop, for me one of the most important is that allows students to practice speaking and listening using real materials, which is a unique experience as we are commonly exposed to the recordings presented in the textbooks. The second one is that it is totally free, you just need to create an account using your email and as a teacher you can invite your students to participate in the discussion. There is also a large amount of public discussions available, in this way your students can get involved in different discussion groups and increased their confidence in using the foreign language. In terms of assessment you can use it to keep track of your students improvement. Finally they can use the subscription option to follow the feed on their iPhones or any device that supports podcasts.

Weaknesses

One of the weaknesses of this tools are based on the use of Java as the recording platform, this can be a very slow process and your browser can sometimes even block the application. Try to set it up correctly following the steps of the help and support page and you will be able to succeed in creating your discussions. Another drawback is that it does not work very well on mobile devices.

What else can you do?

The power of Voxopop is mainly related to your imagination as a teacher, one of the best ways to use it is to create online portfolios for students, which they can access, study and practice. For instance, you can create an IELTS portfolio to practice the Speaking section and provide feedback based on example questions of previous tests.

A final consideration deals with the privacy of your recordings. There are three different options: Public, Restricted and Private.

  • Public: Anyone can view, listen and become a member of your discussion, not very useful if you want to work with a control group.
  • Restricted: Anyone can view and listen but they need to ask for permission to join the group.
  • Private: No one can view or listen unless invited to the group.

 

If you want to know more about Voxopop follow Russell Stannard video on: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/audio-podcasting/voxopop.html

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myBrainshark – Add voice to your presentations

myBrainshark is a very useful cloud-based tool for teachers and students as well, that allows you to enrich your PowerPoint presentations with voice, narrate a document, do video presentations, make a photo album with your voice and even produce a podcast, and all of these for free.

There are tons of different ways in which you can use myBrainshark with your students, for example you can help your students to:

  • practice and improve their speaking skills.
  • make all students to participate, including those that are too shy to do it in a face to face escenario.
  • promote autonomous learning.
  • give feedback to their classmates and promote collaboration.
  • improve their listening skills with authentic material, watching others presentations.
  • give a space for reflection.
  • create a digital portfolio.

All of these activities helps you to create a new classroom environment known as “flipped classroom” which is a form of blended learning and can help you to save a huge amount of classroom time. So your students can concentrate on applying, rather than simply receiving ideas in class. With more time the teacher can have a better understanding of every learner and the way they are learning, paying attention to most of their needs and motivate them to continue making progress.

As mentioned before with the help of this tool you also offer students the opportunity to reflect on their learning, practise their speaking or listening skills and reduce the anxiety that they experiment in every assessment, helping them to gain confidence and progress.

For teachers myBrainshark can be an excellent opportunity to experiment with the virtual classroom environment, as they can complement their presentations with their own voice and in that way engage in a different way with all the participants.

There are of course some limitations for this tools, like all the time necessary to learn, create and polish your presentations, other presentation tools, such as Slideshare, Prezi or Presentme, the lack of a mobile application and also that it is mostly oriented to business, so it can be a little bit difficult to find educational topics, which it has been solved as many educator are using this tool.

To learn more about myBrainshark you can see the following introductory video by Russell Stannard:

And finally I invite you to see one of my examples in the following link:

http://my.brainshark.com/Benefits-of-ICTs-534609693

Have fun!

Souncloud for Podcasting in the EFL/ESL Classroom

Before I start talking about Podcasting, do you really know what is a podcast? Just googling around you can find thousands of definitions but the best is the one from the iTunes website that says:

Podcasts are episodes of a program available on the Internet. Podcasts are usually original audio or video recordings, but can also be recorded broadcasts of a television or radio program, a lecture, a performance, or other event.Podcasts usually offer each episode in the same file format, such as audio or video, so that subscribers can enjoy the program the same way each time. Some podcasts, such as language courses, include multiple file formats, such as video and documents, to teach more effectively.

There is no doubt that Podcasts are very popular and incredibly useful for our teaching purposes, Apple offers an application to manage them on every iOS device and it is a very important section on iTunes, they add:

For podcast listeners, podcasts are a way to enjoy great content from around the world for free. For podcast publishers, podcasts are a great way to reach a wide audience.

So, there is a great possibility to explore as teachers and language learners.

In this occasion I am going to show you one application that it’s great to create your own content, manage it and share it:

Soundcloud

It is one of the best social sound platforms and lets you to record, store and share your sound to the most popular social networks or your blog, your recordings can be listened by your followers, friends or the ones that you allow because you can manage your privacy.

To create your content you need to create a free account at www.soundcloud.com

After that  you can update your profile, it is very simple. Then press the button to upload your previously recorded file or create a new one.

Upload or Record

Wait for the recording to be processed, meanwhile you can add some descriptions.

Add descriptions

You can make it public or private and even use the Creative Commons Licence to protect your creation.

Protect your content

Once it is ready just press save. There you are! you created the first of many podcasts.

Your personal page

Using the Mobile app is even simpler, just tap record and follow the steps.

Mobile Android App

The result is something like this (press Play to hear):

The possibility of adding comments to a specific part of the recording can be very useful when using it with your students, you can provide accurate feedback and motivate them to make it even better the next time, increasing students motivation and engagement.

You can also suggest them to follow the most popular ESL/EFL podcasts in the application (web or mobile), interact with the authors of the content and generate a social network that will help them to be more confident and learn according to their interests. This can also be done on iTunes but without the possibility to add comments.

Popular Podcasts

If you can generate your own content as a teacher you can also improve your communications skills and get a huge audience, which means new possibilities of continuing your professional development. If you are thinking of podcasts it is a very interesting possibility.

On the dark side the free account just allows you to upload 3 hours of sound and if you need more space you will have to pay a monthly or annual fee. Another disadvantage is the time necessary to create the recording you want to share in your channel, sometimes it will be very difficult to find the right place and time to start recording, then editing and finally uploading your content, but once you master your abilities on it, you can reuse it anytime you want and just add some quick updates, so try not to give up and keep going on!

Sources: Souncloud – Apple iTunes

Gallery: Imgur