Digital tools in the young learner classroom

Alastair Horne

In this week’s webinar, Vicky Saumell explored how digital tools can enhance your teaching of young learners; sharing some of her favourite tools, along with tips on making the most of them.

Vicky began by looking at how technology allows us to free speaking tasks from the classroom, allowing teachers to set such tasks for homework, and increasing the opportunities for learners to practise using English.

Voki was the first tool Vicky shared: a free web-based application that allows you to create personalised or ready-made avatars for speaking, including historical and famous characters, animals and aliens. Once your avatar has been created, you can record your voice, to make your avatar speak; you can then share a link to your recording or embed it in a website. Using an avatar, Vicky pointed out, means that you can avoid using students’ own images, which is particularly important in the young learners classroom (and for shy students too).

Vicky’s second tool was Chatter Pix, an app for iPhone and iPad, which allows you to upload an image of a person – a character from your coursebook, for instance – and then record yourself speaking. The app animates the picture you’ve uploaded, so that that it looks as though they are speaking your words. You can use this to get children speak from someone else’s point of view, particularly useful if you’re teaching a CLIL history class and want your learners to let you know what they know about a historical figure.

Fotobabble was Vicky’s third tool, an app for iPhone and iPad, and also for the web, which allows you to record a voiceover for a picture. You could use this to record listening tasks for students, or to get students to describe pictures themselves – particularly useful in Spot the Difference exercises! Students can use it to send you their speaking homework to mark at your leisure, and you can use old recordings to show students how far they’ve progressed over the course of a year – useful to show parents what their learners are doing too!

Vicky’s fourth tool, Adobe Voice, was her particular favourite for getting learners to tell stories. You can use it to upload a series a pictures, then record audio for each of the pictures, to narrate a story. If your coursebook contains stories, you can use the pictures from them with this tool, and get students to tell the stories in their own words.

MailVu was Vicky’s fifth tool; it allows you to record a video, add a narration, and then share it through email, and is particularly good for ‘how to’ videos, tours, and interviews.

In the second half of her webinar, Vicky looks at some of the presentation tools that come with the Kid’s Box course, and how they can be used with young learners. To find out more, press Play on the video below.


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