As a foreign language teacher, one of my favourite online tools is Vocaroo, a free online voice recording service used by teachers and students around the world with very high intensity especially during lockdown periods. But why do I like Vocaroo? Because there are so many things we can do with this great handy tool.
Here are only a few of them:
- evaluating oral communication skills (personal presentations, description of images, film / book reviews, role play, characterization, argumentative /opinion essay, debates, song interpretation, storytelling, project presentation etc);
- evaluating reading skills in a foreign language (pronunciation, accent, intonation);
- collecting all the links to student audio messages (MP3s, FLAC, Ogg, WAV) in a Google form or in a Padlet notice board;
- recording instructions for a task / project in groups and students listen to the recording in Breakout Rooms);
- sending audio messages to absent students (a short summary of the lesson, homework assignment);
- providing personalized feedback to each student by sending audio messages in Google Classroom / Adservio; this is an alternative to the comments written in red on the tests, which most students do not read …);
- recording the names of students to quickly learn them correctly;
- sending a welcome message to students at the beginning of the school year.
But how can we use Vocaroo? The first thing you need to do is to go to www.vocaroo.com and make sure you have Adobe Flash Player installed. Even if you have it installed, you still have to click ’Allow’ or else it just won’t work. Then click on Record button and allow Vocaroo to use your microphone. After that, start recording your message and when you have finished, click ’Stop’ and play ’Listen’ to see how it sounds. If you are not satisfied with the recording, you click ’Retry’, rerecord and save the audio message in their storage space.
There are some sharing options, too. Vocaroo automatically generates a link to your voice recording. You can copy and paste it on a website or in an email (students don’t need to have an email account in order to do that). There is also an embed option; by clicking ’Embed’, you get an embed code that can be highlighted, copied and pasted. Anyone who uses Vocaroo has quick share options with Facebook, Tweeter, Pinterest, Gmail, LinkedIn, Google + and even more. The recording can be also downloaded as an MP3, WAV format, FLAC or Ogg file. For the classroom, though, one of the best options is to turn your audio message in a QR code. Here is an amazing example of good practice: An art teacher recorded his students describing their artistic creations, then organized an exhibition and attached the QR code to each painting. Visitors to the exhibition were able to listen to the presentations. This is simply amazing, don’t you think?
Next, we are going to have a look at some of the advantages of using Vocaroo for both language teachers and their students:
- Develops reading skills in a foreign language, pronunciation, accent and intonation;
- Develops fluency in oral communication;
- Increases interest in reading;
- Supports students with SEN (dyslexia) and those who are shy and introverted;
- Helps learners provide personalized feedback to teachers;
- Develops creativity, expressiveness and imagination;
- Promotes self-assessment (reflection) and peer review;
- Empowers students (develops autonomy in learning);
- Creates an attractive learning environment and boosts motivation;
- Increases learning efficiency and performance;
- Easy to use (‘user friendly’), even for the unexperienced;
- Free and without time limit;
- No login or email account required (this means one less password for you and your students to remember);
- Students’ messages can be downloaded directly to your personal computer;
- With a QR Code reader, anyone can listen to the audio message;
- It has unlimited potential for learning a foreign language and for formative assessment of students;
- Fits auditory learning style/ verbal and musical intelligence.
Nevertheless, there are a few disadvantages of using Vocaroo:
- Messages can get lost or deleted automatically if they are not accessed over a period of several months;
- There is a risk that students will post personal information (Vocaroo does not assume responsibility for the content of recorded messages);
- The recording starts without a warning message;
- It can be an inappropriate and unattractive way of learning / assessment for students with visual learning style /visual-spatial intelligence.
All in all, Vocaroo is one of the greatest opportunities for giving and getting feedback, especially during online school. I hope this article will help you find Vocaroo as useful and motivating as I personally do!
Bibliography and other resources