August #2

I’m kicking off today’s newsletter with an announcement. It’s moving day for me! I’m leaving Google’s blogging platform (*gasp*) and I have set up the new blog here. All the old posts and tutorials have been imported, but you’ll notice the content is more organized and reader-friendly than before. You are welcome to stop by and give me your thoughts on it. Hope you like it!

Today’s topic, you ask? Speaking

Site of the week

We all have students who truly suffer whenever they have to give a presentation or an oral exam (I should know; I was one of them) And we also have those who are downright talkative and would turn the class into a monologue. But, in general, it is simply difficult to get kids talking in class or for everyone to get the same amount of talk time. Blabberize is one of those sites that can be useful in a case like this.

Talking avatars are not new to the Internet sphere. The most popular one, Voki, has been going round for a number of years. But today, I’d like to introduce you to a similar, if not better, tool to get your students talking.

Blabberize lets you create a talking image out of practically anything. Unlike Voki, where you create a personalized character, Blabberize lets you upload any image (from the web or your computer), ‘attach’ sound to it and make it talk. You can choose to record the speech on the spot or upload a previously rehearsed one. I wrote a more detailed tutorial in a post here.

Picture the lesson possibilities for a second. You can give voice to fictional characters in stories you read, historical characters you are researching, or even your own students with a selfie! With a bit of imagination, the possibilities are truly endless.
Video of the week

Oh, Julian. If only you had come to Lenguas Vivas a few years ago to give this talk! I know I’ve said this before when it comes to TED Talks, but this one, like Julian’s last name, is a hidden treasure. It’s just under 10 minutes, so no excuses. And on a totally personal note, his accent is just heavenly.

Julian offers some practical, useful advice for everyday communication, but this becomes particularly fitting in our profession. Our voice is the primary tool in our trade. Without it, it is impossible to work. However, when used properly, it can make a difference between an engaged audience or a detached one. We need to connect with the shortest attention span students in history (if your students are teenagers, my heart goes out to you) and that becomes hard when we speak monotonously or at the wrong speed.This is where Julian comes in. He discusses register, timbre, prosody, pace, pitch and volume in an entertaining yet practical way. Plus, as a bonus, you get some tips on how to warm up your voice.

August Workshop
As you know, I give a monthly PD workshop with varying topics ranging from using Google Apps in the classroom to creating virtual classrooms. The next four workshops I’ll be delivering will focus on using different tech tools to enhance the teaching of the four skills.

The first workshop in the series will deal with Speaking. Below, you’ll find the flyer (you can click on it to see the full one) And if you are interested, you can sign up here.

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See you in 2 weeks! Have a great weekend!

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“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Steven R. Covey