Animoto declares itself ‘the end of slideshows’. Well, I’m not quite sure what they mean by that, but this is a terrific application for creating ….. well, slideshows. What you do is upload a bunch of image files, select some music from their copyright-free library (you can upload your own tracks, but you would need to be careful about copyright issues) and press the button. After a few minutes you get an e-mail to say your slideshow is ready and you will find your pictures have been put together in a fast-moving show complete with lots of effects synchronised to the music. Very cool, and with no effort on your part.
The usefulness of all this for us as language teachers, I think, is that it offers a novel way not so much to present vocabulary, but rather to reinforce it or test it. Here are three examples I have used: one on places in town (this one is German-specific), one on sports and one on food and drink. The last one, which employs the same images as were on the PowerPoint which originally introduced the vocabulary, I used as a quick-response vocabulary test – you need to see it two or three times to be fair. Another way to use one like this is to have a list of items including more than what is seen, so pupils tick them off as they appear, or perhaps in the order they appear. Remember you need to play them in full screen mode for the full effect.
To be allowed more than the usual free limit of 3 full-length shows, you need to register for an educational account, which is still free. Try it. It’s easy, more fun than most other ways of revising or testing vocabulary, but just be careful not to disrupt the class next door by having the music up too loud!