Tag Archives: online

Free No Sign-Up Micro Tools for the Busy Teacher

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Some people collect coins or postcards and I… I collect digital tools. ūüôĄ¬† Well, I also like watching tutorials. OMG! Come to think of it, do I qualify as a freak? The irony is that though I use tools to curate and organize my findings: Pinterest, Sites, Wakelet, Pearltress… you name it, the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.

And, much to my chagrin, it appears that I have been adding tools to this list in a fairly haphazard manner with the result that I have so many of them that I’ve opted to include just a few and may create a Part 2 if you find this post useful.

What is mind-blowing  about them is that:

  • They are free
  • They are online
  • You don’t need to register

I have tried to organize them into categories and add a bit of everything. For better or for worse, some of them are multifunctional and don’t fall into just one category.

                                     IMAGES
  • Removing a person/object from a picture. You need Cleanup Pictures: Upload the photo, choose the brush size, paint the area you want to remove and download your new photo. In some cases, you might need to paint the area twice. The 0:20 video below shows how to do it.

 

  • Removing the background of an image. Go to Remove.bg. As easy as choosing the photo and uploading it. You don’t even have to click any buttons.
  • You can find Cool 3D icons¬† for your projects On Free3DIcon, and images on CloudDevs
  • To create a Breaking News Image, go to Classtools.net
  • StorySet is an amazing site for your projects.¬† Choose an illustration and now…
  • delete elements
  • change the colour of the illustration
  • animate one or all the elements in the illustration
  • download it as a GIF or MP4
                                    VIDEO 🎥
  • TypeStudio is just awesome. It is a new approach to editing a video, text-based. That means you edit your video by just editing the transcribed text. You can also add subtitles automatically, turn the video into a blog article and everything runs online in your browser. How to go about it:
  • upload the video
  • the screen will be split into two parts. On the left, you will see the transcript for the video and on the right, your video.
  • Now, you will be able to edit the transcript by deleting a word or words from the video. It is like magic! Imagine the possibilities for language learning.
  • Removing or changing the background from a video clip. Go to Unscreen.com. The 0:40 video below shows how to do it.

  • Facebook is blocked in your school? Then, you need Snapsave. Just copy the link of a video that you wish to download, then paste the link in SnapSave and select the video quality that you want to download.
  • Automatically or manually adding subtitles to a video, go to Veed. Veed is¬†a free editing video tool with lots of possibilities.

  • Downloading a Youtube Video, go to YT5s¬†
  • Downloading the audio from a Youtube Video, go to YT5s and paste the link. Downside: it has some annoying ads and you will probably need to close some pop-ups and probably a window. Other than that ūüėČ ¬†it works fine
  • Free downloadable video clips, sound effects and images for your projects on MixKit
                               DOCUMENTS

  • Extracting text from online images, PDFs or Websites, you need CopyFish, a Chrome extension. The 0:52¬† video below shows how to do it.

                              MULTI-PURPOSE
  • Tiny Wow is a wow of a tool.¬† It works with PDFs, videos, images and URls. Remember you don’t have to register. Files are deleted after 15 minutes.

  • Converting a myriad of media files from one format to another, go to Onlineconverter is just what you need to convert
  • audio
  • ebooks
  • images
  • files
  • etc…
                                     READING
  • Speechify This is a Chrome extension that when installed reads any text. Great to practise pronunciation and boost reading fluency.
  • Text to downloadable speech? Yes! Go to Speak. Voice clips are up to 300 characters but if you register (free), you get clips of up to 1,000.
  • Don’t know what to read next? Go to Whichbook and choose your next book based, for example, on your mood.
                               MISCELLANEOUS
  • If you have forgotten your password on a specific site, you might find it here https://passwords.google.com/
  • If you want to know if a file or a¬† website is free of viruses, go to VirusTotal¬†
  • Alternative to: this site finds the best free alternatives for paid or free apps or programs. As easy as typing the app you need to find an alternative to.
  • Changing the cursor. I know. Just for fun! To change your cursor, you need to add the free Chrome extension, Custom Cursor
  • QR Codes. My favourite is QRCode Monkey because it allows you to customize your QR by adding a logo or changing the colour or the design.

 

If you have found some of these tools useful, share this post it with someone who might need it!

Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Do you Have One Minute? Four sites to Learn English in One Minute

Do you have a minute? This is all you need for these four highly recommended sites I am going to share with you today.

1. English in a Minute 

If you have never watched English in a Minute, I think it’s time!

Centered on confusing vocabulary or grammar points, this ever-growing collection of video clips has been nominated for the ELTons Awards (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards given annually by the British Council)

Why do I recommend these short videos?

  • They focus on real confusing terms.
  • They are clear, short ( 1 minute) and to the point.
  • Transcript for every video is available, so you can also practise pronunciation if you decide to read along.
  • Most of them have a grammar reference
  • Most of them have¬† a quiz to test your knowledge

Here you can learn about the difference between:

  • Story and History
  • Stop to do and stop doing
  • Person and people

Click on the picture or here

2. BBC News in One-Minute.

Targeting more advanced students, here you can watch the latest news summary from BBC World News updated 24 hours a day. In one minute. As promised.

Click on the picture or here

One-Minute English

Hugh Dellar from Lexical lab is the star in these videos. I love his videos because they teach you real English, the English you might not find in dictionaries but which is essential if you want to understand native speakers. The videos are easy to follow as he speaks slowly and repeats the target word or chunk several times during the recording.

For example: Do you know what the words “sarnie” or “samey” mean?

Click on the picture or here

English in a minute 

And finally, this is another worth-sharing site. If the site above featured British English, this one run by VOA Learning English (Voice of America) explains expressions used in American English although, in most cases obviously, the expressions on the videos are used both in British and in American English.

Again, click on the picture or here

So, here you are, four awesome sites to learn something every day! Enjoy English! Enjoy learning!

How to Use your Phone as a Remote for Google Slides

Wouldn’t you like to be the cool teacher using your mobile as a remote to present your own slides? This is soooo easy that I don’t know why I haven’t tried it before.

Before acting cool, you will need to download two things. Don’t worry. They are free. I am the free app teacher, remember? Oh and… please bear in mind it’s only useful if you use Google Slides. I do. All the time.

  1. In your laptop: Download the Chrome Extension “Remote for Slides” here. Make sure you click Add to Chrome.
  2. In your mobile, download the free app Remote for slides.

Done? Now

  • Open your presentation on Google Slides
  • Click on the Present w/Remote

3. At the bottom, you will see Start Remote

  • .¬†Click and your Slide ID will be displayed. It will be on display for only 2 seconds. If you want to see it again, you will have to click the Show It icon next to it.
  • Open the first slide on Presentation mode
  • Done? Open the app on your mobile, enter the code and click on Connect
  • That’s it”! You will see two buttons. Next Slide and Previous Slide

See? Easy peasy! I told you so!

10 Creative Ways to Use the Wheel of Fortune to Teach English

The wheel of fortune? I know. I know. If I want you to continue reading, I’d better explain what it is. Have you ever seen the game show Wheel of Fortune? Yes, that one where you spin a wheel and get money if you successfully guess the missing letters in a word or phrase.

Good news. It can also be used to teach/learn English.

Unfortunately I am not working with primary or secondary students. I know they would love this tool. It’s a lot of fun to work with -spinning a wheel normally is, isn’t it?-, but it also has a lot of potential to teach/learn English. I teach adults and it normally takes them more time to get used to the way I teach. Sometimes, a far cry from traditional. Well, yes, I take my work very seriously but, from time to time, I like to spice up my lessons with little games and online tools to energize my lessons. This tool I’m using today is from classtools.net.

In this post, you’ll learn

  1. How to feed the wheel
  2. Ideas to use the wheel of fortune to teach/learn English

 

 

1. How to feed the wheel

  • Click here to get to the wheel
  • Click on Edit and write whatever you want to see displayed on the wheel.
  • Click on Save this list as currently shown
  • Choose a password to edit the wheel in the future
  • Make sure you make a note of the unique address of your wheel. I suggest you email yourself the link.
  • After a name or category is selected you can remove it from the wheel.

2. Ideas to use the wheel of fortune to teach/learn English

Vocabulary

  • Revising vocabulary.¬†Very useful to revise vocabulary either as a whole class, in pairs or in competitions. Students will need to either explain the meaning of a word or use it in context. Nobody will ever accuse you of favouring a team and there are countless options when working with vocabulary. While you’re reading this article, I am sure your brain is already suggesting lots of possibilities, like irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, phonemic transcription…etc
  • Another possibility to explore would be feeding the wheel with different topics and asking students to write or say as many words related to the topic as possible in one minute. Some easy topics could be: jobs, shops, nationalities, animals, food…etc.

Speaking

  • Three minutes. Feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and ask students to work in pairs and spin the wheel. They’ll have to talk about the topic for about three minutes. Great to revise for oral exams!
  • Hot seat.¬† Again feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and divide the class into teams and ask a student from Team A to sit in the “hot seat”. Spin the wheel. Members of the other ¬†team need to ask him questions about the selected topic; he’ll need to talk for about three minutes answering the other team’s questions but his answers cannot contain the words YES or NO.
  • Comparing. Do you want students to compare? Feed the wheel accordingly: compare living in the countryside/city, travelling ¬†by bus/plane, working as a teacher/shop assistant…etc

Writing

  • Storytelling. Give students an inspiring story starter and feed the wheel with prompts they need to incorporate in their story. Spin the wheel and give students a minute to use the prompts in their stories. Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
  • Using connectors. Feed the wheel with different connectors (and, but ¬†however, although,…etc). Ask students to work in pairs. On the board, write three sentences and ask students to choose one. Tell them this sentence will be the first in their stories. Spin the wheel and display the first connector they need to use.¬† Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
  • Dependent prepositions: feed the wheel with verbs such as depend, rely, insist…etc and ask students to write a sentence using the verb together with its dependent preposition.
  • Order of adjectives.¬†Are you teaching the order of adjectives before the noun? Feed the wheel with nouns and ask the students to write a sentence containing the noun modified by two or three adjectives.
  • Verbs followed by infinitive/gerund. Are you teaching/learning verbs followed by infinitive or gerund?¬†Rotate ¬†the wheel and ask students to write a short sentence containing the verb randomly chosen.

I’m sure you have some more ideas to use this classroom tool, which is free and embeddable. ¬†Have fun while learning, have fun while teaching. ¬†ūüėČ

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Four Excellent Sites for Online Dictations

Oh boy. Does it bring back memories!
Dictations! To be completely honest with you, I have mixed feeling as regards dictations. I remember back in primary school when the language teacher gave us lots of dictations like a well- deserved break after a tough grammar lesson; and then, this feeling of ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to ever hear the word dictation again‚ÄĚ that I got from my classes at university where the teacher gave us one-page-long dictations so quickly that when he finished, he was panting for breath and we were seeing red.

Although doing dictations is somewhat regarded as an old-fashioned technique, it is undeniable that a lot of benefits can be derived from doing this exercise. In fact, it is an integrative activity requiring the use of various skills like listening, writing and reading -when you read the passage you have written, looking for grammar or spelling mistakes. You might even add speaking if the dictation is used as a prompt to encourage discussion of the passage.

In case you are not fully convinced that dictations also have their place in the twenty-first century classroom, here are some more benefits you might want to consider:
‚ÄĘ It improves spelling.
‚ÄĘ It improves recognition of grammatically correct sentences.
‚ÄĘ It helps students distinguish sounds in continuous speech.
‚ÄĘ It improves students‚Äô awareness of punctuation.
‚ÄĘ It gives students practice in comprehending and helps them gain fluency in writing.

If I have managed to convince you, here are some links to online dictations you might want to try or if you are a teacher, heartily recommend to your students.

Dictations  Online.

This site specializes in dictations and although it is free, you can sign in to do more dictations or keep track of your score  and view your score history. They are graded from elementary to advanced.

The students hear the dictation four times

  • The first time, the whole passage is read at normal speed to listen for gist.
  • The¬† second time, each phrase is read slowly twice, with punctuation.
  • Then the whole passage is read again to check your work.
  • And finally, the written text is shown¬† for you to see ¬†your mistakes.

Englishclub.

I like the site. It is very user-friendly. The dictations are graded going from Elementary, with short recordings of one or two phrases, to Advanced with recordings of one or two paragraphs.

Learn English free

This site features two levels: elementary and intermediate. It has a very clean interface where you’ll see two recording of the same dictation. One recorded at a normal speed and the other one at a slow speed with pauses to give you time to write down what you hear. You only need to follow the instructions.

ESL: English as a Second Language

Aimed at Intermediate and Upper-intermediate students, this site offers an amazing numbers of dictations

Do you like these sites or would you rather create your own dictations? Here are two online free tools to convert text to speech.

VOKI

SLIDETALK

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