What is a Chatbot?

February 19, 2009

A chatbot is a computer programme which answers questions as if it were a person. It has very limited artificial intelligence and tries to learn about you too.

This is a good one from mousebreaker games http://www.mousebreaker.com/games/chatbot – the chatbot is called Mitsuku and she is 18 years old. She does quite a good job of keeping up a conversation. be careful> If you are rude to her, she will be rude back!

This was the task I set for my students using this chatbot. After a lesson on formign questions (Upp1) they had to write questions to Mitsuku to find out this information

Mitsuku’s age _________________
The town where Mitsuku lives _________________
Favourite colour _________________
If she has a boyfriend _________________
Her religion _________________
Her favourite film and why she likes it _________________

2 other facts about her

PROS of this activity – Students get carried away and ask her lots of things, some kept playing after the end of the lesson. Mitsuku sometimes provides extra info, like pictures and links and pop-ups on the page which make it interesting

CONS you need flash installed (which one of the comps at Tirol didnt have). Sometimes it is slow to load or their system if overloaded so Mitsuku won`t work. Depending on your sensibilities – dont let students get carried away writing too many rude things!


Vagalume – Gap Fill Feature

February 6, 2009


Following Dave’s post on Youtube gap fill activities, I’d also like to contribute with a practical idea: The Vagalume [http://vagalume.uol.com.br/] APRENDA feature. Having selected the lyrics to a song, you can add gaps to it by clicking the aprenda button. Unfortunately, you cannot control which words will be removed; nevertheless it’s still a good filler if you have some time left near the end of your lesson or when opportunity arises. It’s especially convenient since the lyrics are usually shown side by side with video on the right.

Have a great term!

Fernando Guarany

YouTube ELT gap fill activities

February 5, 2009

Hi folks,

If you’re using the internet in your classroom and want a ready-made activity or song, then I’ve been working on some you may be interested in. YouTube now allows its users to add subtitles very easily to their own videos. So I set up a new account called “ELTgapfill” and have been creating some activities to be used in class. Most of them are gap fill activities and all the gaps appear on the video – no need for prep or handouts! Here’s one I did on body parts.

BUT: These subtitles won’t work if you download the video. They are only available if you watch the video on the internet. I have completed about 5 videos and will try and do more over the next few weeks. Let me know if there are any songs you would like me to do…

ps. I’m happy to show anyone else how this works if interested!

World’s best complaint letter

February 1, 2009

Have you ever recieved such bad service that you felt the need to write a letter of complaint? Here’s a useful piece of authentic material if you’re teaching writing techniques, and how to write complaint letters. This was flying around the internet last week – a genuine letter to Virgin Atlantic after a particularly bad flight. Its hilarious! The letter was so good that the complaints dept forwarded to the CEO of Virgin – Richard Branson.

Here is the complaint letter – http://uk.news.yahoo.com/blog/editors_corner/article/11975/
If you have time, have a look at some of the 3000 (!) comments that follow the article, it really caught the attention of the public back in the UK.

Also, the author was recently revealed to be a 29 year old man called Mr Beale. Here is a bit about him: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/4383938/Virgin-complaint-letters-author-revealed-as-Oliver-Beale.html

And, finally, his reward for such a good complaint letter? Virgin have offered him a new job! Click here to read about that: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/4371036/Virgin-complaint-letter-Author-of-Virgin-letter-offered-chance-as-airlines-food-tester.html