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Update from the Editor


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Bill Zimmerman's New Online Tool Adds Creativity to ESL/EFL Lessons

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,, 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.

Comic strip authored by Robb Scott using Bill Zimmerman's interface

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"
"Healing Words"
"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, or at Guarionex Press, Ltd., 201 West 77th Street, NY, NY 10024. Again, the Web link is

By Robb Scott

2007 ESL MiniConference Online

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