Voki is a really good little tool to get your pupils speaking with a bit more confidence. It basically allows your pupils to create an amusing cartoony avatar which will speak a piece of typed, recorded, or pre-recorded language. The result animation can be either saved, emailed, embedded onto a blog or webpage or saved as a link to be accessed later. The one slight restriction is that the recording will last for a maximum of a minute, which is at least long enough for GCSE speaking presentations for instance.
I’ve used it a fair amount in lessons, firstly as a way of doing some listening practises and then I’ve had pupils preparing their own speeches. First I got my 5th form (year 11) to write out past tense presentations on free time activities, and having corrected them we recorded them onto a voice recorder. The pupils then made their avatars and then uploaded their recordings. The second stage was to get them to copy and paste a pre-written and corrected text in the future tense to the ‘text to voice’ option, and then hearing how it should be pronounced. This was in the lead up to one of the controlled assessments we were doing, and it worked very well as a practise strategy.
Ideally I think it is best to have pupils using a microphone in class or on their own laptops if they have them, as the uploading bit can take a while. There were a few mini problems with the uploading, I think due to our school firewalls, but we got there in the end!
Here is a voki made as a Spanish listening exercise on tv opinions (it was recorded in the dining hall, so please excuse the background noise!)
To create a Voki, go to the website here, and then click ‘Create’ on the top menu bar. You first can customise your avatar by choosing from the various creatures and figures available, and you can also choose a background. Once you have customised your character, click on ‘Give it a voice’ and then either type your words in, record yourself, or upload a premade recording. If you select the text to voice option, make sure you select which language you want it read in – most languages are available with male and female voices. Having saved your recording, click publish and then you have the choice of how to save or share your newly created animation. You need to signup to save your voki in your account, but this is free. If you don’t signup, then you just have to save the html or embed code so you don’t lose it.
This is a widely used site as far as I know, and the pupils I have used it with have really enjoyed it and benefitted. If you have any problems using it, please let me know.