There is a very interesting new resource online for teachers and students who want to add creativity to their English language learning activities. Bill Zimmerman--and graphic artist Tom Bloom--have produced the Web site, makebeliefscomix.com, where it is very easy to create two, three, or four-panel cartoons with their unique user interface.
The cartoon generator allows a person to select from among ten different characters, ranging from a dog face, a cat face, a reptile face, a rabbit face, a rat face, and five different human faces. For each face/character, there are four different gestures/expressions to reflect various emotions, and there are talk balloons as well as thought balloons.
In addition, figures can be scaled, brought to front, flipped horizontally, and moved around using a simple set of very nicely intuitive tools. It is also easy to delete a specific item or to start over.
Below is a three-panel cartoon I was able to generate in about 10 minutes the first time I opened these fun pages.
The authors also provide story ideas for students or teachers developing cartoons using this neat interface. Here are some of Bill Zimmerman's ideas for cartoon themes:
"Travel to a Mysterious Place"
"A Day at School"
"Write a Love Story"
"Finding Your Courage"
For each of these and his other ideas, Zimmerman adds explanations and further details to help authors with their cartoons.
It is a relatively simple Web tool concept, and an exciting way to engage ESL/EFL students in creative new activities where they can experiment with the social contexts of language use.
"MakeBeliefs" creator Bill Zimmerman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Guarionex Press, Ltd., 201 West 77th Street, NY, NY 10024. Again, the Web link is www.makebeliefscomix.com.
By Robb Scott
2007 ESL MiniConference Online
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