Saturday, December 3, 2011


What is MailVU?

MailVU is a website which allows users to create a video message and users can email the video to anyone. This tool is free and very user friendly. All you need is a webcam and click on the button to record and send the recording. 

How can teachers use MailVU?

One of the activities that teachers can use with MailVU is having students to record about the important dates in their lives. Teachers may begin by drawing a timeline in the class and write several dates on the timeline. Teachers may then get students to ask what happen during the timeline in the teachers' lives and teachers will answer students' questions. After that, teachers may get students to draw their own timeline and get students to work in pair and ask each other of what happen during the dates that they have written. As a homework, teachers may get students to record a video of themselves describing their own timeline using MailVU and email it to the teacher. Speaking at home and with no one watching them allows students to be more confident and lower their affective filter as they will not be nervous to use the language.

Other than that, a variety to the activity could be recording interviews. In this activity, students may interview a friend by asking them some personal questions and record it using MailVU. Students may take turn interviewing each other and then email it to the teacher. This activity allows students to speak meaningfully and create purpose for students to talk as well as listen because there are information gap. Students are also able to use the language more meaningfully. Teachers may then decide to play several videos of interviews in class.

Another activity will be asking students to promote an item. Students may take the role as promoters who are trying to persuade the teacher and the rest of the class to buy an item. The items could be anything, for example, a broom, a towel, a computer, or an apple. Students will do the recording at home and email it to the teacher and on the next lesson, the teacher will play the videos to the rest of the class. Students who are watching may be asked to give comments on whether they will or will not buy the items. At the end of the class, students may vote on which three items that they will buy. Other than practising speaking, this activity allows students to make use of persuasive language.

I believe that the activities above using MailVU is suitable for learners of all level and ages because they may speak according to their levels of English and at their own pace as the videos can be recorded at home. In addition, the videos can be redone if the students are not happy with their videos.

For more information on how to use this tool, you can check out the video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about MailVU...

  1. It's FREE!!!
  2. User-friendly. Easy to use with only 3 clicks and it's done.
  3. The time limit for the recording is quite long (10 minutes)
  4. Suitable for students of all levels of English because students may speak using their level of English.
  5. A variety for homework. Instead of having a written homework, students do a recording and email it to teachers.
  6. Connected classroom activities. Plus, it gets students to practise speaking English even at home!
  7. The recording can be sent, deleted and saved when the students sign up! 
  8. The receiver of the email may also reply the video using MailVU. 
What I dislike about MailVU...

  1. Cannot be embedded on blogs or websites if students do not sign up for an account. 
  2. The FREE TRIAL ACCOUNT only valid for 14 days.
  3. The videos cannot be downloaded.


What is Elllo?

Elllo or English Listening Lesson Library Online is a website which stores LOTS and LOTS of listening lessons that teachers can use. The materials are divided into Mixer, Videos, Views, Games, and News. Each of the materials focus on listening as well as Vocabulary Quiz, Speaking Quiz, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary focus.

How can teachers use Elllo?

This tool is suitable for students of all levels of English because each of the listening materials is labelled with the level in which the listening material is suitable for. Teachers may use this website to create variety to their lessons whereby teachers can download the audio and use it in the class. Teachers may also print the transcript to be given out to students at the end of the lesson for comprehension activities.

The materials also come with activities which involve vocabulary focus. Therefore, teachers may also use the listening materials to introduce specific vocabulary to students as the audio does not only pronounce the word, but also explain the meaning of the word. It will be a more interesting way to learn the meaning of words rather than flipping through dictionary. The vocabulary also may involve phrases and idioms.

The listening materials also involve the use of English using different accents from all over the world. This could be a good way to expose students to a variety of accents in using English rather than just the Received Pronunciation (RP). 

Elllo is also suitable for autonomous learning in which students can use this website during their own free time at home. Students may choose activities that suit their age and level and learn the language themselves. 

For students and teachers who are interested to use this website, you can check out this video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about Elllo...

  1. Important to hear a variety of accents
  2. Authentic materials - real English that we hear on the street
  3. Topic varies which makes it culture rounded
  4. Encourage personalisation because it gives people choice on what to hear, or from what culture
  5. It provides variety for lessons in class
  6. Promote autonomous learning as students may learn to improve listening skills on their own
  7. Multiple skills (listening, spelling, writing, reading)
  8. The comprehension activities create reasons/ purpose for listening 
  9. Provides context in which language is learnt in context and not isolated from context.
  10. Students can self assess and self evaluate their own performance 
  11. CLIL - learn about technology and learn about English
  12. Vocabulary enhancement - the audio of the vocabulary does not only pronounce the word but also explains the meaning of the vocabulary.

What I dislike about Elllo...

  1. Some of the audio/videos cannot be downloaded.
  2. Organisation of the topics - the labels on the left side of the website are only numbers, rather than having labels of the topics.
  3. Technical issue. Users may experience 'error' on the website.
  4. The language used in the videos may have grammar mistakes. Therefore, not suitable if the focus of our lesson is on accuracy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


What is Audioboo?

Audioboo is a podcasting tool which allows us to create up to 3 minutes of audio. Users can also add title and tags once they finish recording. We can also add an image to our 'boo' and add the location of where you record your 'boo'. Once everything is done, the audio can be shared to others on Twitter and you audio can also be searched on iTunes. An account is needed in order to record and upload audio and we can use Twitter account to sign in.

How can teachers use Audioboo?

The use of Audioboo in teaching and learning English would be possible with the access of internet connection. Teachers may use Audioboo to make a podcast, for example, teacher may create a podcast asking students to write an essay on a topic and students at home will listen to the podcast and write the essay to be submitted the next day.

Other than that, teachers can also ask students to talk about their daily activities and make a podcast to be uploaded into their blogs or just uploaded into their Audioboo account. It would be sort of like asking students to keep their own 'journal'. Teachers may also ask students to email the podcast to teachers and teachers may then give feedback on students' language and context by using podcast as well. 

Here is an example of an Audioboo.
For those who would like to learn how to use Audioboo, you can watch the video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about Audioboo
  1. Can record a podcast easily or upload from phone.
  2. The podcast can be embedded to blogs, websites and etc.
  3. Suitable for giving instructions or homework to students.
  4. User-friendly website. Everything is clear and organised.
What I dislike about Audioboo?
  1. No privacy. It goes up on iTunes and twitter and everyone can listen to it. 
  2. Need to set up an account or sign in using twitter account. Not convenient.
  3. Maximum duration for recording is only 3 minutes.
  4. Facilities (need internet connection, microphone, phone)

Monday, November 14, 2011


What is MyBrainShark?

MyBrainShark is a tool that allows users to insert narration to their PowerPoint presentation, word document, video, and photo album. All we have to do is to upload our files and add audio by phone, microphone or MP3. 

How can teachers use MyBrainShark?

Teachers may use this tool to allow students to practise speaking, and probably writing as well. An example of activity that can be used using MyBrainShark is by asking students to produce a PowerPoint presentation about themselves, their family, or about any other topics like global warming, population explosion, pollution, festivals, or about their idols.

It can be carried out in the classroom or as but I would personally suggest that it is used as a homework in order to allow students to work individually at their own pace. In addition, students may need a quiet surrounding in order to record the narration in which may not be possible in classroom environment where every student is trying to record his or her own narration. Students may then be required to upload their presentation to MyBrainShark and add narration to their slides and finally email it to the teacher. Teachers may then reply to students with responds regarding their language. Teachers may also decide to show several presentation to the rest of the class.

This tool, in my opinion, is suitable for students in upper secondary (16-17 years old) because it may require a slightly higher knowledge in technology and I personally believe it is also suitable for adult learners. Students who have intermediate level of English to advanced students are probably the most suitable to use this tool.   

Below is the example of a slide presentation with narration created using MyBrainShark.

For those who may need some help in using this tool, you can go to Russell Stannard’s website which shows you how to use MyBrainShark. For those who are interested to learn more, click here  to view the second part of the instructions provided by Russell.

What I like about MyBrainShark... 
  1. It is TOTALLY FREE.
  2. We do not break copyright.
  3. Improves multiple skills like writing and speaking, but mainly focuses on speaking skill.
  4. An effective communicative activity which requires students to talk through their presentation.
  5. Can be shared to public and can also be set to private.
  6. Reduce affective filter as students can speak in the language without having anyone watching them and reduce their anxiety.
  7. Allows students to be creative (can incorporate audio recordings, live web pages, surveys, background music)
  8. The presentations can be emailed and embedded.
What I dislike about MyBrainShark... 
  1. It can only be viewed online and cannot be downloaded to your computer. It may cause problem if there is no internet connection.
  2. Needs a microphone, a computer and the Internet. It may not be accessible to all of the students if this activity is carried out as a homework.
  3. Time-consuming for narration.
  4. It may not be authentic spoken activity as students may have written their script and just read and record it. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


What is Bookr?

Bookr is a website that allows people to make slideshows presentation or a photobook using pictures grabbed from Flickr. All they need to do is type in the keyword of the pictures they would like to search for and the results will be displayed. Students just need to clicked on the image and dragged it into the slide page. Students may then click on the edge of the book to move on to the next page. The pages can also be added.

How can teachers use Bookr?

This website is suitable for students in secondary school students in which around the age of 13-17 and it may also be useful for adult learners. Bookr is also suitable for students who have low level of English to advanced students. 

Bookr can be used as a classroom activity or as a homework to practice students' writing. Teachers may ask students to make photobooks by giving them a topic, for example, favourite food, favourite place, thir hometown, their idols, or their favourite actors. If the facilities in the classroom is adequate, students may be asked to work individually during the lesson and write their caption in the box. Students may then be asked to present their photobooks to the rest of the class. This may also allow students to practice speaking as they will be required to speak to describe their pictures despite having captions in each of the slide. If the activity were to be set as a homework, teachers can get the students to email their end product to teachers and teachers may reply to them by giving feedback on their work and language.

Another idea on using Bookr in a writing lesson is teachers may prepare the photobook, but only with pictures and without the caption. Teacher will then show the pictures to the students one by one and get the students to a sentence that best describe the pictures that they see. Teachers may then collect the students' sentences and give them feedback on their language.

Below is the example of a slide presentation created using Bookr.

The instructions on using Bookr can be found in the website by Russell Stannard.

What I like about Bookr... 
  2. We do not break copyright.
  3. It encourages the sense of personalisation in terms of the pictures chosen and the captions.
  4. It is also good for communicative activities as the students may write the description of the pictures in their slides.
  5. It develops creative writing among students.
  6. Students may write according to their own level of English
  7. Improves multiple skills (writing, speaking)
  8. Do not have to set up an account (saves time).
  9. User-friendly, easy to use. Just click on the pictures and type in the words in the caption box.
  10. The pages can be added.
  11. Can be embedded.
What I dislike about Bookr... 
  1. Some of the pictures do not match with the keywords, hence it is difficult to find suitable pictures.
  2. Students may not write as much as the teacher expects them to, therefore teachers need to probably set how long the students are required to write.
  3. It can be time-consuming because there are a lot of images to choose.
  4. Facilities (computers, the internet) may refrain teachers and students from using the website.
  5. The slides can no longer be edited once they are published.
  6. The published slides cannot be made private.
  7. The caption box cannot be moved to position that we like.
  8. The font and the font size cannot be edited. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


What is LyricsTraining?

LyricsTraining is a website which allows students (or even adults!) to learn English through the use of songs. This website provides a fun approach to learn not only the English but also Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, and French. Lyrics Training link videos of pop songs (which are Youtube-hosted music videos) and students are required to fill in the missing lyrics. 

How can teachers use LyricsTraining?

This website is suitable for secondary school students from the age of 13 and the activity can be carried out for students with intermediate level of English to advanced students. For each of the music video, there are three levels that can be chosen, Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. For Beginner and Intermediate, learners only have to fill in the blanks of several missing words in the lyrics but for Expert, learners are required to write the full lyrics. 

If the learners get stumped or cannot complete the lyrics, the video will not continue playing until the missing lyrics are filled in. Learners can just press the 'tab' button whenever they cannot fill in the blanks and the words will automatically appear. At the end of the song, the scores will be shown and if the learners set up an account, the scores will be saved so that they may keep track of their progress.

Teachers may use this website in a listening lesson in which for schools with adequate facilities, each of the students will listen to the song of their choice from the website, and fill in the blanks. Students with the highest score will be given points and this can be carried out as a game among students.

If there is only one computer with a projector in the classroom, teachers may use LyricsTraining for a spelling quiz to make it more exciting and to give a variety of spelling quiz rather than just the traditional dictation. 

Other than that, students may use the tool to practise their listening and spelling during their own free time. This may also encourage autonomous learning among students. It may also be interesting for students as they may choose the songs that they like and probably sing along!

Here is the video by Russell Stannard to guide you in using LyricsTraining.

What I like about LyricsTraining...
  1. The most important one, it's FUN and it's FREE!!! And students can sing along!! =)
  2. Students can choose songs that they like, so it's MOTIVATING!
  3. Encourages autonomous learning.
  4. Authentic materials.
  5. Can cater students with different levels of English.
  6. Can be carried out in class or during students' leisure time.
  7. Practise vocabulary, listening skills, as well as spelling.
  8. Students can save their scores and keep track of their progress.
What I dislike about LyricsTraining...
  1. Students may be distracted by the videos.
  2. Does not have that many videos to be chosen from.

Listen and Write

What is it? is a website which provides opportunities for students to practise listening and writing simultaneously. It allows students or learners to choose their choice of news or oral transmissions from the options provided in the page. Students will then have to write the words they hear in a box. 

How can teacher use Listen and Write?

This website is suitable for students in secondary schools, age 13-17, with different levels of English ranging from beginners to advanced students. For each oral transmissions, there are three modes which are Full Mode, Quick Mode, and Blank Mode. In Full Mode, students need to write the whole letter of a word and type the whole sentence. In Quick Mode, students are required to only write the first letter of a word while in Blank Mode, students are required to fill in the blanks based on the news. To use the Full Mode, students do not need to sign up but in order to use the Quick Mode and the Blank Mode, students are required to sign up and log in. In every mode, students may click the play button to listen to the sentence again. When students manage to write the correct sentence, a red 'good' appears at the end of the line to indicate that they have written the correct sentence. Students may also save their scores in order to see their progress.

If you are not sure on how to use the website, you can watch a video by Russell Stannard which will guide you in using the website.

Teachers may use Listen and Write in a listening lesson. Teachers may ask students to work individually or in pairs. Teachers may choose one oral transmissions and ask students to complete the text using Blank Mode and students finish the fastest and with the highest score will be given points. Teachers may then repeat it with another news.

Students may also use this tool to practise their listening during their own free time. Students may choose topics or news which are of their interest. This tool also allows students to improve on their spelling as they need to spell the words correctly in order to be able to complete the listening text.

What I like about Listen and Write...
  1. It's FREE!!!
  2. It's FUN!!! 
  3. Practise multiple skills like listening, writing and spelling.
  4. Encourages autonomous learning.
  5. Accommodate students with different levels of proficiency.
  6. Students can evaluate or assess themselves.
  7. Can be carried out in class or as homework.
  8. Lots of exposure to language.
  9. Allows students to repeat the sentences.
  10. The news or oral transmissions is up-to-date.
What I dislike about Listen and Write...
  1. Access to the internet and computer.
  2. Distraction (Social network like Facebook)
  3. Students may just use the 'Hint' button to complete the text.
  4. Need to sign up and log in to use the Quick Mode and the Blank Mode.
  5. The repetition of the sentence is annoying and it becomes boring when you have to listen to it many times.


What is Dvolver?

Dvolver is a website that allows users to create their own movies. I would consider it a mini moviemaker.  It allows people to create a three scene movie with up to two characters in each scene and the best thing is we get to decide on the setting, the background, the characters, the dialogues, the background music, the title, and the theme for our movie.

How can teachers use Dvolver?

Dvolver is suitable to be used for students in both primary and secondary school level (age 7-17), regardless of what their levels of English are, ranging from low level, intermediate level, and high level of English.

This website can be used as an activity in class or as a homework in which students can work individually at home and email their movies to the teacher. Teachers may ask students to create movies on any topics, for example, explaining an event, a process, a biography of themselves or a figure, how to take care of their health, how to cook pasta, or any other topics that we can think of.

An activity that can be carried out using Dvolver would be writing a story, in which in this case, it will be a digital storytelling. For schools and classrooms with adequate facilities like computers and internet connection, students may be asked to first write a story in the classroom and then use Dvolver to make an animation based on their stories. This activity can also be done as homework and students are required to email their movies to their teachers. Teachers may then reply to students by giving comments on their movies and language used.

Other than that, teachers may also ask students to create movies about themselves. Students may include their nicknames, birth date, their favourite food, and hobbies. Students may then show their movies to the class and get the rest of the class who create the movies.

In addition, Dvolver may also be useful for teaching literature. Teachers may use the tool to introduce a new chapter or a new story of a novel, drama, or short story by making a short movie using Dvolver in order to generate students interest.
Here is an example of a movie created using Dvolver.

If you need the instructions on using Dvolver, you can always check out this website by Russell Stannard.

What I like about Dvolver... 
  1. It's FUN!!!! Let's put ourselves in the position of the students. We want to learn, but we also want the learning to be fun rather than the old boring writing exercises in the classroom.
  2. It can accommodate different levels of students because students are able to produce sentences and dialogues based on their levels of English.
  3. Students can be CREATIVE. They have a choice in deciding the characters, setting, background music, and how the characters interact.
  4. It's FREE!!
  5. No need to set up an account to use the tool.
  6. It is very easy to be used by teachers and students. Very user friendly. All you have to do is click and type in some words.
  7. Students may write what they want in the dialogue box.
  8. The end product can be emailed to teachers and it can also be embedded into blogs or websites.
  9. It will engage students who love comics and cartoons.
What I dislike about Dvolver... 
  1. No control of the language used by the students (vulgar, harsh words).
  2. Students may not have access to the internet or to the computer.
  3. It may be user friendly, but not really school-friendly because it is not suitable for small children.
  4. Teachers have no control of what the students may write as they can write anything in the dialogue box. There is a need of supervision and monitoring.
  5. Some of the characters are not suitable for children, for example, Hottie which is described as sexy lady and seductive. Therefore, teachers should point out which characters are suitable and which are not to be used.
  6. Maximum only three scenes.