Friday 27 April 2007

Creating audio-visual monologues

Flipz TV is a really useful piece of free software for creating entertaining audio-visual materials.

The software enables you to record your own audio monologues and lip-sync them with a choice of animated talking heads. It then turns them into small Flash files which can be run in a web browser. These can be put on the Internet, run form your computer desktop, or the Flash files can even be delivered to mobile phones.

Here’s an example that I created using a Sonnet (130) by William Shakespeare. (You’ll need to have the sound o your computer turned up)

Click here to see an example

Use the small controls on the right to stop and replay the audio.

What I like about this software, apart from the novelty value, is Flipz creates quite small files. You could easily email the file to students with some instructions so they could listen at home or in a self access lab. Or put them on their phone or mobile device. You could make some really useful homework tasks for them. The students could even download the software onto their computers at home and create their own materials to bring to class.

Creating something like this is very easy. Just click through the five steps on the interface.

  • The first step is to choose the character you want from a possible 8 talking heads (two come with the standard download of the software and you can download another 8 by registering)
  • You then type or copy and paste in the text that you want the animated head to read.
  • You then either import your audio file or record your own
  • Then simply click a button and the software generates your audio character and synchronises the speech to the text
  • You can the either preview or finish your project. The software generates an html page with the talking head embedded in it.

You can watch this short tutorial movie to see just how easy it is.

Tutorial movie (Flash 523k)

Here are some ideas for combining this into your teaching.
  • Record short poems or stories for the students to listen to
  • Record some tongue twisters for the students to listen to and practice
  • Get students to produce and record their own news reports
  • Get students to record an imaginary daily diary for one of the characters
  • Get students to record imaginary problems for a problem page. They can then listen to each other’s problems and record some advice
  • You or your students could record a song or import a song audio file and add the words

You can download Flipz for free from:
It’s about 3.15Mb so it shouldn’t take to long to download, then just unzip the file and install it. It only runs on PC (sorry MAC users)

Click here to see how Flipz would look on a phone or PDA
Flipz on phone

If you use Flipz or have any good ideas for how to exploit it, by all means post them in the comments below.

Nik Peachey

Monday 23 April 2007

Make you own animated movies

D- film is a really useful website that has been around for a few years now. The site makes it very easy to create short animated movies with colourful characters and cartoon style dialogue in bubbles. (Be careful though, some of the characters may be unsuitable for younger learners less mature students.)

The site is really easy to use and you just click your way through various screens selecting backgrounds, characters, scenarios, soundtrack and credits. You also type in your own short dialogues. Then when you are ready a single click turns the whole thing into a Flash movie.

You can make short single screen animated movies or longer ones by adding more scenes. You can then email the link to your movie either to yourself or to your students etc.

How do I create movies?
  • If you watch this tutorial you can see just how easy it is to make a film.
    Tutorial movie
    (458k flash)
  • Here’s an example of a film that took about 2 minutes to produce.
    Example movie
  • This link takes you straight to the movie maker page.
    Movie maker

How do you use this in the classroom?
You can use it for a number of things:
  • To demonstrate language points
    Example movie
  • To give examples of social English
    Example movie
  • To tell jokes
    Example movie
  • I once got my students to create their own movies based around concepts (fear, happiness, boredom, etc) and we had our own miniature animation festival.
  • You could try setting up a competition in the school to see who can create the best film.
If you think of any great ways of using this little tool or you or your students create some nice films, by all means add a link to them in the comments below.

Thursday 19 April 2007

BBC online media training

I’ve just seen that the BBC has released a lot of its own internal staff training courses and made them available free online at:

What's on the site?
I’ve had a look through the courses and they really are good, especially if you want to work with audio for podcasts or video for projects. Some of them are very short, so even if you only have 10 – 15 mins to spare you can still get some development from them. I looked at one on interviewing for radio:

  • This one has some really useful audio files of interviews which you could actually use with your students for listening activities. There is also a collection of short vox pops interviews which have a huge range of different UK accents.
I also looked at one on the basic principles of shooting good video footage.
  • It had lots of short video clips with audio voice over and they all had text transcriptions available. The clips were all quite short, so they wouldn’t take too long to download even if you have a slow connection.

There are also quite a few on the software and technology side of editing the materials. All of them have clear slow commentary and great visuals. This really is useful material even for people who are basic beginners with this kind of technology.

A really useful site whether you’re looking for authentic listening materials for your students, teaching journalism or media classes or looking to develop your own ability and understanding of video and audio technology.

Monday 16 April 2007

Tutorial: Using Videos from YouTube

Sites like YouTube ( can be a really rich source of authentic video and audio. Many of the videos are great for the ELT classroom because they are quite short, so they don’t take too long to download and there is a vast collection all for free.

Sending students, particularly younger ones to a site like this can be very risky though. Even if you send them directly to the page with the video you want them to watch, you never know what other links are likely to be on the page and what kinds of unsuitable things they might take your students to. This quick tutorial shows you way to get around this problem

The Tutorial

  • It shows you how to use a simple template and 'Wordpad' to create a simple web page that you can embed the video into.
  • This doesn’t mean that you need to have your own website or web skills. You can store the web page on your hard drive. The video will still work as long as your computer has a live connection to the Internet.
You can see an example from here by just clicking on this link:
  • This is a funny short video that I thought would be really useful for describing prepositions of movement, or even a little bit of daily routine. Or simply just describing what you see happening. Students could either write a brief description of a short segment or take it in turns to describe to each other orally.
To see how the simple worksheet is created, just watch this Flash movie tutorial:

To try creating this yourself, you can download these step by step instructions:

You’ll also need to download the html template, just right click the link below and click on ‘Save target as’ and save the template to your computer's desktop:

Friday 13 April 2007

UNICEF: Top 10 Cartoons for Children’s Rights

This is a site I spotted a while back and was really impressed by. UNICEF are creating lots of rich media to get their message across and the whole of the site is worth exploring if you are looking for materials to help you tackle some more controversial issues.

What's on the site?
  • This is one page I found really useful. On this page you can find 10 really useful short video cartoons which depict the various rights of children. They have low and high bandwidth versions, so even if you are on as low internet connection it would be possible to download the smaller videos in a reasonable amount of time. The videos are non verbal, so they could be used with lower levels too.

Here's a lesson plan
I had a quick attempt at creating a lesson plan for them. This should be usable with students who are at an intermediate or higher level.
  • It includes lead in tasks as well as discussion, viewing and follow up tasks. You could actually use some bits of it even if you can't give your students access to the site.
  • You can download it in pdf format from here: Lesson plan (39k pdf)

If you use it, please come back and leave a comment here and feel free to leave a suggestion for any improvements or variations you can think of.

Thursday 12 April 2007


I've just been having a look at TeacherTube, the new video sharing website designed specifically for teachers. I think this is a potentially really useful resource. It enables teachers to upload and share videos, either publicly, with anyone who visits the site or privately in 'groups'. The groups feature enables you to limit who can see your videos and could be really useful if you only wanted to share specific videos with your students. You can see a tutorial on how to do this by clicking here.

What's on the site?
  • There are quite a few videos on there already, but they vary in quality and usefulness enormously!
  • They are categorised and you check out the various categories or 'channels' as they call them, by going to this page:
  • There is a channel for World languages, which at the moment is pretty small and limited. There are also quite a few on technology and one on professional development. These aren't aimed at ELT but some of them could be quite useful.
  • My favourite category was the channel dedicated to using TeacherTube as it has quite a few informative, short videos on how to get the best out of the site.

What's most useful?
A couple of the most useful videos I found were this one on how to use Cam Studio. Cam Studio is a useful bit of free / open source software which allows you to record any screen movement and audio that occurs on your computer. This is really useful for making any kind of video computer tutorials for your students. You can find out more about Cam Studio here: and download it from here (2.2Mb):

And watch the video here to see how it works.

Another useful video was one showing how to make posters using Microsoft Excel. This one could even be used as a listening task with your students. If they were viewing it 'full screen', the combination of the audio and the video screen movements should be enough for them to understand it. It's also a good example of what you can make using Cam Studio.

You can have a look here:

If you use this or have a look and spot any useful videos for ELT, please add a link in the comments section below.

Wednesday 11 April 2007



My eBooks and Lesson Plans