The site is quite easy to use and you simply click through a few steps, selecting and adjusting different aspects of your avatar's appearance. Once the avatar is complete, you simply email it to yourself and download it onto you computer as a jpg image.
How can we use this with EFL ESL students?
Here are some activities you could try.
- You could ask students to work at home and try to create an avatar that looks as much as possible like themselves. Ask the students to email their avatars to you. Print these up and then stick them round the class. When students come to class ask them to try to decide which avatars represent which students in the class. Once they have done this, try to get them to describe the features that helped them guess and which features they feel are different in the images from those of the real people.
- Create a few manga images. Then put the students in pairs. Give one student the image and ask them to describe it to their partner (not show it). The partner of each pair then has to create the same image using the website.
- Get students to create their alter ego avatar (someone who is the opposite of themselves). Ask them to bring or email the image to you. You can them print them and ask the students to work in pairs in class and describe the avatar to their partner and explain how the imaginary person is the opposite of themselves in appearance and personality etc.
- Create a set of images and ask students to work in groups or pairs to create an imaginary profile for each character ( information regarding their job, personality, living circumstances, etc). Then ask students to imagine what the relationships between them are. Lastly, ask them to create a short story or soap opera including the characters. Students can then regroup and tell other students about their characters and the story they created.
- Ask students to create an avatar of a specific person (yourself or a celebrity) then email you or bring their images to class. The students can then discuss and decide which looks more like the real person. This should produce a lot of comparing and contrasting type language ("His nose is bigger" 'The mouth is too big" etc.).
What I like about the site
- The ability to create images of imaginary people is really useful for EFL ESL materials creation.
- The art work is good and the number of different characters you can create is huge.
- The site is free to use
- Manga images are part of our learners' culture, so they are likely to find this more motivating
- The interface is pretty easy to use.
- The site does try to charge users for immediate printing of their images. This isn't really necessary though as the quality of the emailed one is sufficient.
- You have to submit and email address in order to get the image sent to you. (You could give your students your email address so that all the images are sent to you.)
- You can create avatars which are making rude gestures! It might anyway be wise to deal with what these gestures mean and in which cultures they can be found offensive.