Twine

Twine allows you to make 'choose your own adventure' style stories, basically as a website with links you can click on as your choices. It's really straightforward to make the stories:

  1. Double click on a text box (or click the pen icon 🖉) to edit that part of your story
  2. Put [[double square brackets]] round anything in your text box that you want to appear as a choice - it'll automatically create and link to new text boxes for these choices
  3. Use the play button ▶ to see what it'll look like to the reader

You don't need to create an account (which I love because I'm hopeless with passwords), but you need to make sure you understand how the stories are saved so you don't lose them by mistake (read about that here). Basically, make sure you save ('archive') your story often (from the home page). If you want to share your story with others on different computers, click on the title, then 'publish to file'. This will download the html file (the finished story view) which you can save and send to people. Click here to get started.


Comic strips

Comics and cartoons are a good way to make writing dialogues more fun, and there are a few websites which will let your students make their own comic strips. Make Believe Comix is free and no sign-up is necessary, but if you want to edit your comic later you can sign up for a free account. You can choose backgrounds (e.g. the beach, a haunted house), move and resize characters (e.g. firefighter, Frankenstein's monster)  and objects (e.g. a cake, a watering can), and use these to build your story. Some typical EFL story/dialogue building activities are:

  1. I had a strange dream last night ...
    Choose 10 words you want to review, and students put them into a description of the dream.
  2. Strange pairings 
    Students work in pairs or threes and are allocated two or three characters at random or chosen by the other students (e.g. SuperDog and chef). They then make a short dialogue to practise a particular function that you've been studying in class (e.g. making complaints, giving advice, making arrangements).
  3. Alphabet dialogue 
    Students write dialogues in which the first line must start with the letter "A", the second with "B" and so on.
    - Are you waiting for someone?
    - Betty. She's my girlfriend. She's always late.
    - Couldn't you just leave?
    - Definitely not - she'd be really angry.
    ... And so on ...

Dvolver is a great website which lets students make their own short movies. They can choose the characters, the setting, the music and write the dialogue. When they've finished, they can email the films to their friends.

In 2020, Adobe ended support for Flash Player which means that you will probably have problems using any flash-based websites. However, Dvolver is planning to update to Dfilm which won't use Flash. I can't wait to see what it can do and will update here when I know more.

I usually get them to choose a genre, (romance, sci-fi and so on) and write a script for two characters, just six lines long. Make sure that they don't write long speeches as there isn't room for more than 20 words(ish) in each speech bubble. The website allows them to add extra scenes if they want to make the film longer.

It's also a good idea to get them to write the script before they make the film on the computer - that way their imagination isn't only constrained by the settings and characters provided. Also, it means that if a computer crashes and they lose what they were doing, they have a paper version of the script.