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What tools for speaking?

In a recent post about student anxiety in the languages' classroom I scribed that "anxiety is thus disappearing".  I was being positive about the technological tools that are available to enable pupils to speak more freely and perhaps lose some of their inhibitions.  I did not mean to be in any way rash and dismissive of what remains a difficult situation for many in the classroom. However, it is clear that an avatar is just one of the many ways that we, as teachers, can encourage our pupils to speak free of anxiety and negative evaluation anxiety; nothing worse than feeling as if someone might laugh at your efforts to communicate in a foreign language.
This post will thus look at apps and tools that focus exclusively on speaking.  The following selection is just my choice and there are, of course, many others that are equally as good.  

I think one of my favourites is Tellagami "animate your life". Simply, you create a gami that you can adapt as you wish (emotions, physical description, clothing and so on). You can use a set of background pictures provided by the app or you can input one of your own.  Once your character is created you can go ahead and record your message. There is a limit of 30 seconds for your voice recording but if your pupils are really keen with a little bit of app synergy (appsmashing) they can save their gami in iMovie and create more than one to build up a longer presentation.  In true Blue Peter tradition here's one I made earlier....

Another fantastic app that is truly motivating and engaging for pupils and helps take the edge out of speaking activities for the most anxious is Yakit "make any photo talk".  My example below is just a bit of fun but the potential is clear to see.  Photos of town can come alive as a cinema talks or the supermarket details it's whereabouts in the town.  Again, as with Tellagami, there is a time limit on each Yakit but it can be saved to iMovie and another one added to it.  Check out @Joe Dale for some further details about Yakit (Yakit trial).

Audioboo is my final choice.  It can be downloaded as an app or used as an online tool.  Take a picture and add your recording to it or record without a picture.  It is perfect for preparation for I/GCSE oral as the time limit of a recording under the free plan is three minutes. Combine this with Visioprompt which is like your very own autocue for whatever you want to say then you can really help your pupils speak more freely.  You will have created a safe, engaging environment in which pupils can voice their opinions and speak out.

I know that these are just some of the tools available and that there are many others out there.  In my opinion though, these, are a good place to start as they are easy to understand and use.  I would be interested to know what your thoughts are?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.


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