Caroline Massey
Caroline Massey has worked in ELT for over ten years as a teacher... read more

A simple but very effective app to make photos speak!

Who it’s for:
All, but perhaps more suitable for younger learners (under-13 version available) or the young at heart!

Use ChatterPix to give a voice to your pictures and bring them to life. Even reluctant speakers will have fun creating the audio to make their images talk with this engaging and easy-to-use tool.

User experience.

For me, it is the simplicity and inviting, colourful interface of ChatterPix that makes it such a pleasure to use in class; all ages and abilities find it really easy to engage with. All you need to do is download the app to your iOS device and follow some very basic steps: take a picture (or choose one from the gallery or your camera roll), draw a mouth on it, record a message and – if you want – customise your image. It really is that simple. Your speaking image is now ready to save and share!

Language level and skills.

Perhaps the best thing about voice-recording tools like this is that they encourage creative expression from learners who don’t usually like to talk in class. Taking on the identity of the image they choose may reduce anxiety for quieter learners and give them the confidence they need to use the target language. Furthermore, because they can rerecord their audio until they are happy with it, they do not feel the pressure of producing spontaneous speech and they have the opportunity to reflect on and refine their performance before saving their final version.

Language learning content.

ChatterPix can be used to enhance learning in a variety of playful ways. Imagine you have a rather dull vocabulary set to teach – objects in the house, for instance. You could allocate each learner an item and get them to make a ChatterPix which verbally defines what it is (You fill me with water; I get very hot; I live in the kitchen; I help you make tea). These videos could then be used to play a class game of ‘What am I?’ First, just play the audio and then reveal the talking image. At higher levels, learners could demonstrate their understanding of grammar points by recording a short explanation in the character of, say, their favourite pop star. Another idea is for learners to use the rerecord option to practise pronouncing a particular sound they are having difficulty with, perhaps by reciting a tongue-twister or poem which repeatedly contains that phoneme. The key point here is that a layer of fun has been added to make what might normally be quite a mundane task more enjoyable (and therefore memorable).

Tracking learning.

If ChatterPix is used at various points along a course, it provides a great way of tracking improvement. By comparing old ChatterPix videos with more recent ones, you and your learners can notice developments in pronunciation as well as grammar and vocabulary use. In large classes, it can often be difficult to monitor everyone’s performance, but ChatterPix allows you to get a good overview of all your learners’ speaking abilities. From the app itself, learners can email their videos to you directly, share them on YouTube, or save them to the camera roll and share via the class’s preferred platform. A Facebook group works really well for this – you can add a competitive element by getting learners to ‘like’ their favourites and give peer feedback in the comment boxes. Learners are likely to find the app so much fun that they will be keen to use it autonomously after the class has ended, so it also works brilliantly for homework tasks.

Learning through language.

If you teach Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), ChatterPix provides a fantastic opportunity for learners to demonstrate their subject knowledge creatively. How about bringing historical figures to life to say who they are, explain events or give their opinion? In a science class, a raindrop could describe the water cycle, and in a geography lesson, a volcano could explain its own formation … the possibilities are endless!

Supporting teaching and learning.

Teachers can join in the fun, too. You could use a ChatterPix video to introduce a new topic, give instructions or explain a language point. If you’re teaching about food and healthy eating, for example, why not have a juicy, speaking tomato set the context for you? You could even use the app to give verbal, personalised feedback on learners’ work. Not only would this make marking a more lighthearted process, but learners themselves might be more willing to focus on their strengths and weaknesses if feedback was presented in a more dynamic way.

Technical: user safety and data security.

user safety and data security

ChatterPix requires iOS 6 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A Wi-Fi connection is required to download the app, search for images and share videos, but aside from that it is fully functional regardless of connectivity. ChatterPix collects very limited data – non-personal information about how the app is used – and does not require parental consent. To receive further information about products from the creators of the app, you may leave your email address, but this is only used to send the newsletter and provide technical support. ChatterPix is aimed at people aged 12 and over, but there is a child-friendly version of the app (ChatterPix Kids), which is exactly the same as the standard version, except it doesn’t provide the same sharing options and only allows you to save videos to the camera roll.

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