Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Comparatives and Avatars

This tip message is about teaching compara- tives, words like bigger, shorter, darker, lighter, taller, hairier, bulkier, thinner and so on to give a description of a person. Police artists use software that lets them take a basic character and, with a few mouse clicks, modify it, making the hair fluffier or wavier; the glasses bigger or smaller, rounder or squarer. Recently I found something much easier to use, and better yet, free. Together, you and your learner can use a website to practice using comparatives, telling you how to create cartoon versions of yourselves.

I went to the website, www.simpsonsmovie.com recently and created an avatar* of myself as a Simpsons character. My wife Erika created avatars of herself and our son Simon. Below you can see us in our natural state and what we look like “Simpsonized.”

In your lesson you can introduce comparatives to your learner, then ask them to use them to tell you how to change the size, shape and color of certain features. Here is the main page of the website, and the page that opens up when you choose to create a new character.

Once you enter the site you will find a chance to create Simpsons avatars that look like you and your learner. Click the link near the top of the page. It first asks you to choose a male or female form.

From there you change one feature at a time. As you pick each part, click on the right arrow to change one feature at a time. Use the icons at the bottom to save, e-mail or print your creation You can save the final image and e-mail it to friends—in my experience it was easier to e-mail it to myself than to save it. To send it to several people, put in multiple addresses and just separate them with commas. One of the icons at the bottom of this page, the one that looks like a camera, lets you turn your own picture into a Simpsons character. This is a little harder to do. I’d recommend using the option where you just add parts one at a time, at least for the first time.

*Avatar: a stylized representation of oneself that exists in an artificial world, such as a computer game or Springfield, U.S.A.

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