Using FREE ICT resource Voki in the Classroom: Motivatating pupils to improve Chinese speaking/listening

Are you using motivational opportunities for your pupils to practise speaking Chinese?

Are you looking for ways to simply assess your pupils speaking Chinese?

Are you using cool, free, easy-to-use ICT applications that are fun and engaging for you pupils?

Do you want to add a new skill to your c.v. by improving your ICT competencies? 

Why not try Voki?


What is Voki?   Voki is a free web-based application that  enables pupils to express themselves on the web in their own voice using a talking character. Pupils can customize Voki  to look like themselves or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters… animals, monsters, etc.   Your Voki  can speak with your own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone.

A finished Voki  can be viewed remotely either by accessing it via a link or by embedding a unique code into a webpage, blog or social networking application such as Twitter/Facebook. 

Here is one we made earlier!




Why use it in the Chinese Classroom?  Voki can be accessed both at home and at school.  This facilitates both teacher-centered  classroom-based learning but empowers pupils in their own personalized learning acquiring individual responsibility.    As a Web application, Voki  also appeals to increasingly internet savvy pupils.  Voki  is also inherently fun and engaging.   Many quieter children who sometimes either struggle to be heard or lack the confidence to practise speaking Chinese, use Voki  as an outlet to make their voice heard. 

For the teacher Voki  is an excellent tool to assess pupils speaking skills and it also provides evidence of their learning. 

Combined Voki  serves a powerful  tool to motivate  pupils and make them more confident speaking Chinese.

How can you use Voki to teach Chinese?   Why not use the following suggestions for ways to use a Voki  in your class.    (Thanks to  Helen Otway for some of her suggestions used here ( January 2008. Voki avatars in the classroom)

·         Pupils can create avatars that are similar in looks or personalities and record a message that tells about themselves.

·         Pupils can exchange these avatars with class peers or with e-pals anywhere in the world.

·         Pupils can generate questions to ask their avatar e-pals.

·         Chinese  pupils can use the speaking avatars to practice and listen to their speech. They may use the computerised voice first then record their own voice when they feel more comfortable. Writing, reading and pronunciation are all practised.

·         Pupils can create an avatar that resembles a character from a story, add a setting and give it speech. The speech could be from the story or a creative point of view (POV) from the character on an event.

José Picardo is Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Nottingham High School.  When lesson planning he suggests  incorporating Voki  in the following ways (taken from his article ‘Voki in the Languages Classroom’)

My pupils don’t use Voki  in every lesson. Approximately once every half term, I plan a series of lessons that culminates in my pupils using Voki as a means of assessment. I generally follow this pattern:

·         Our first lesson in the sequence focuses on revising the appropriate vocabulary and/or grammatical structures. At the end of the lesson, I set a relevant writing task for homework, with the aim of basing our Vokis upon this task.

·         In subsequent lessons we develop the topic further and I return their exercise books with highlighted errors and corrections to their homework. You may prefer to do this digitally using blogs or wikis.

·         Eventually, I will take the class to an ICT room and set the speaking task, explaining very clearly what the expected outcome should be. As Voki  is available online, the task can also be finished or homework.

·         Finally, I collect all the Voki s by email, import them into my own account and assess them. If you have your own classroom blog, you may want to publish your pupils’ Vokis in your blog for further peer-assessment, which your pupils could do by leaving comments for one another, as my pupils have done here in our blog.

How to use Voki:   Voki is very simple to use and it is possible to create a Voki, upload a voice and ‘publish’, even embedding your Voki on a webpage within 10 minutes.  Your pupils may well be able to do this even faster!

To find out how to use Voki follow these 2 great 5 minute short tutorials from Joe Dale, CILT ICT MFL consultant.   Each tutorial is accompanied by a PDF transcript which can be printed out. It is recommended that while watching the tutorials, you pause the recording from time to time and copy the instructions you've just seen on the website itself so by the end of each one you have also completed the task set

Voki Tutorial one

Voki Tutorial two

This second link entitled ‘How to make a Voki in under 10 minutes’ is also recommended.


Have fun with Voki!



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