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.