Friday 10 October 2008

Animated EFL ESL Writing Prompts

Here's something that's fun for the weekend and beyond. A site with a collection of image and gif generators that you can customise with your EFL ESL students and add their texts to. This is an example one I created with talking flowers giving a warning about the environment.

gif animation

  • The site also offers talking squirrels
  • Talking cats
And a few other things like tomatoes, owls and a wizard. There's also a generator that helps you add a text to a packet of cigarettes and also a newspaper which I really like. It's really easy to do, you just add your text to a field and click the generate button.
You can then either download your image or get an embed code to add it to a blog or website.

So how do we use this with EFL ESL students?
  • We can use the animal and vegetable animations to get students to express opinions about different topics we discuss. It can often be hard to motive students to do this and using a tool like this reduces their 'exposure'.
  • We could get students to create an animal or vegetable very short story.
  • We could use the cigarette packet generator for a competition to think up the best reason not to smoke (could use this for modals of obligation too - you shouldn't / mustn't smoke because..)
  • We could use the newspaper gif to get students to write a short news stories about how they became famous, what they did at the weekend, their last holiday etc.
  • They could also use the newspaper gif to write some classroom or celebrity gossip to share
  • We could write news stories for the students as a prompt for questions - Write a short news text for them with the headline - 'Teacher Found Murdered' - add a few details and get them to write short questions to ask you more about the story. You could even develop this into a role play with students having to think of an alibi to explain where they were at the time of the murder and get some students to act as detectives and interrogate the other students.
  • You could use the newspaper gif to create an editing task by creating a text with a number of your students' common errors in and asking them to act as newspaper editors and find the mistakes.
  • You could use the newspaper gif to get students to convert a popular story form literature or folk tale (Romeo and Juliet, Goldilocks and the 3 bears, Cinderella etc.) into a quick news article. This is a good activity to practice summary writing skills.
  • You could use the Ninja or Wizard animations to get students to create short advertising slogans.
What I like about this site
  • It's free and really easy to use.
  • Once you've created your images and animations you can either download them or get an embed code and add them to a blog or website.
  • It's fun and adds an element of motivation to simple quick writing activities
  • Ideal for warmer.
  • It's all very 'low tech' and you don't need broadband.
What I'm not so sure about
You might have to be careful that students don't write too much. the wizard and ninja texts need to be very short.

Well I hope you find these useful and please leave comments with any other ideas or links to any materials your students create using these.

Related links:
Activities for students:


Nik Peachey


Anonymous said...

Hi Nik,
I love the look of this but how do you get it to animate - when I click on the image it just links back to their website - nothing moves and the text doesn't change. I tried to create one myself with the same result. I know I must be being stupid somehow...?? Thanks for your blogging I find it really helpful (I'm an MFL teacher)

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Gail

Which one are you tryng to use? Let me know and I'll sedn you some more detailed instructions.


Digital Media said...

Hi your blog. I also tried both the talking flower and squirrel and was unable to make it talk. I work with middle school ESL students. This would be great for them. thank you

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Katherine,

Glad you like the blog.I'm just trying the talking flowers out again and it seems to work for me. You can either save it or get an embed code (I'm using the embed code) and here is a direct link:
The problem could be: The program you are using to open the animation (use a web browser) also to make it read the words, you need to start each sentence on a new line. Hope that helps.



Anonymous said...

Hi Nik

I really liked this blog, so much things which I used in my teaching, only one thing which didn't work with me. The problem is when I tried to write in some animation in Arabic, the writing doesn't appear. Is there any speacial program for Arabic. By the way I'm an Arabic teacher.

Again many thanks for your brillant ideas.


Nik Peachey said...

Hi Mahammed,

Thanks for your message. I'm really glad that you like and are able to use these ideas for teaching Arabic. I'm afraid I can't help with the text problem though.

Really sorry


Nik Peachey

My eBooks and Lesson Plans