Create a speaking avatar and add your voice
Voki is a wonderful little tool that allows you to make your own avatar that speaks your messages. It appeals to me for these reasons:
- it’s free
- it’s incredibly easy to use – so intuitive – absolutely no training or reading is necessary
- it’s great fun
- my students really like it
- it has many cool uses
- you can embed it in your blog or website or e-mail it to someone
Here’s one of my Voki avatars:
I typed my message and selected the voice and accent from the drop-down menus. You sometimes have to type phonetically – For the avatar to pronounce ‘Voki’, I had to type ‘vocky’.
I usually try and choose the hair, face shape, clothing options that most resemble me. I can’t seem to find an option for the few bits of hair I have on the sides of my bald pate – guess they might come in the next version
Cool voice options:
- you can type what you want the avatar to say, as I did above (the text-to-speech is pretty good)
- you can record your own message that your avatar will speak and lip-sync to
- you can send a phone message to Voki that your avatar will use
- you can browse an upload an MP3 file from your computer
All very easy. All very cool and fun. I also like moving the cursor around the screen and watching my avatar’s eyes follow it – small things like that amuse me.
1. Setting up
Explore with your students the concept of avatars. Should they look like yourself or should you let your creative juices take over? Introduce the James Cameron movie into the discussion. You could do one of my Listen A Minute.com lesson on avatars.
Discuss with your students what they could use their avatar(s) for. You could create a reading exercise and write a short piece on your thoughts on and uses of avatars. This could be a model for students’ writing.
2. The Voki website and creating an avatar
a. Exploit the web page
Quite often we send our students to websites and expect them to know all of the vocabulary. There’s a lot we could do to make use of the language on a page for learning purposes. The Voki homepage is a great source of “modern” and “techy” vocab, which I guess is fairly high-frequency (?) among younger people.
Encourage students to explore on their own by clicking on the links that show the video or go to the forum… This can give lower level learners the confidence to explore more on the Net.
b. Describing people
Students can choose from quite an array of options for their avatar. This gives the teacher a lot of very useful vocabulary to work with. It has all the facial features, hairstyles, skin colours, uniforms and even a whole section of bling (that’s ‘accessories’ for those my age and older).
Another useful opportunity for vocabulary practice. A drop-down menu provides you with the accent for your Voki – you can choose from Basque to Czech to Galician to Polish to Turkish and lots more in between (including US and UK English).
3. The avatar
a. Character development
Once students have their avatar, they write their own profile for it and develop its character. Students can write questions to each other’s avatars or comment on them.
b. Question the avatars
Students write questions for each other’s avatars.
Students write comparisons between themselves and their avatar.
d. Grammar practice
Students write about their avatar. The writing fits the grammar being taught by the teacher (what the avatar did yesterday, what it’s going to do in the future, likes and dislikes…).
e. Family and friends
Students create a family and friends for their avatar. These can be additional Vokis or those they create for a written activity.
4. Avatar communication
Use the avatar to introduce yourself to your students or for students to introduce themselves to others.
Get students to record a Voki and send the message to you. It could accompany homework with a short message about their work, a request, an apology for being late…
c. Class wiki / website
Students record Vokis to welcome visitors to their blog / wiki / website.
i. Make an online “class wall” of Vokis – all students introduce themselves.
ii. Next time you do a class project, get students to present it all with Vokis.
iii. Pass the Voki. The teacher records a Voki message and e-mails it to the first student. He or she records what he/she hears and sends it to student 2. Repeat the process until the final student Vokis the teacher. The class see if the final Voki is the same as the first.
iv. Voki soap opera – The class creates a soap opera based on Vokis.
40 (and counting) more links to cool stuff on Voki
Please tell us how you use Voki by posting a comment. Thank you