Tech skills:  click, scroll, and basic web navigation

Voki has been around for years, but I want to focus on ways it might be used for listening activities. (There is now a new feature that includes a classroom management system. I haven’t used it yet. It costs $30 a year. But if anyone has, please comment below.) For those that are new to avatars and this technology, it is probably the easiest way to add voice to a character. Different from DFilm from last month, with Voki you can add audio using a mic, text, or even your phone. So if you are looking for a fun way to engage learners and add some technology to the mix give this one a try. I dare you not to have fun creating one! And as always, if students work on something like this together, it creates that authentic opportunity to work on both speaking and listening.

Picture

Before you begin thinking about lesson ideas, let’s watch a video produced by youth using Voki to learn a foreign language.

Lesson ideas:

  1. Decide on one of two basic approaches: work with the class on a message you want to broadcast and then select an appropriate character/avatar OR sign into Voki first, build a character/avatar and then ask the class to discuss a message that this avatar, would most likely say.
  2. Also, decide ahead of time if you are going to use a phone, text, or microphone to record sound. Audio settings can be tricky so always test well before time and check (or bring) the speakers.
  3. Using a projector, show students how to sign in to Voki. Then model with the class the steps to creation with the kinds of messages you want them to work on. Try having the message end with a question. Have students respond to questions raised by the avatar by having each student write down a response to each avatar they “meet” as they go to each computer.
  4. Although it is almost always valuable to have two students on one computer working collaboratively, and thus giving authentic opportunities to practice conversation, I think this is one of those times that it is best for each to work on creating their own avatar, script, and recording.
  5. After each student has had a chance to create their recording, at least one person or the teacher should listen to the recording to make sure it is clear and understandable before presenting it to the public or sharing it with the rest of the class.
  6. There are two ways of sharing a Voki: sending an email or embedding it in a website.
  7. As a closer, with the whole class, write on the board words they had difficulty picking up. Ask whether each problem was an issue of incorrect pronunciation by the message’s creator or unfamiliarity of the word by the listener.  Did repeating the message or turning up the volume help? Discuss any techniques listeners had for getting the main point of the message and responding correctly.

Variations: 

Depending on the level of your class, you might add in challenges for listening to relaxed speech using reductions. For ideas see, Whaddaya Say.

Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies). 

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