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Expressing Yourself: Cartoon Dubbing Activity

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

One of the hardest things about learning a second language is not having a variety of authentic opportunities to express yourself. There are role-play activities, skits, and presentations, but those are always limited by the confines of the classroom content and whatever scenarios the students can imagine. Through this cartoon dubbing assignment, students will create dialogue for situations they would never experience in the classroom, and also become more confident in their speaking ability.

Here is an example done by my weakest grade 6 student and a mid-level student:

The main voice of this is done by a student whose low English level prevented her from ever participating. She could barely read or write, and very rarely spoke. Normally during group assigments she would be found sitting with her head down, not saying a word the entire time. This video is my favourite because it was the most I ever saw her participate, and she had so much fun doing it!

The reason why I like this assignment so much is because the emphasis is not just speaking, but creating all manners of sounds. I told my students to try to fill the video with as much sound as possible. If the character is walking, make footsteps, if they drop something, make a clatter, just make as much sound as possible! Having this non-Egnlish component helped to boost their confidence and participation levels.

Required Materials :

- Monitor or Projector - Tablet/Chromebook

- Video editing app (VivaVideo recommended)

Time Allotment :

2 - 3 hours. Time varies based on video length and student skill level.


Cartoon Suggestions :

The best videos to use for this are 2-3 minutes long with at least two character speaking parts. Group size should be kept to two people to maximize speaking/sound times.

It's fun to use cartoons that your students may already know, but anything will do the trick. Here are a few examples of videos that you could use.

Adventure Time Shorts:

We Bare Bear Shorts:

Movie Clips:

Preparation :

After choosing your video, use a YouTube converter to download the video as an mp4 file. Open your new mp4 file in VivaVideo (or whichever editing app you choose) and trim the video as necessary, taking out any extra parts you don't want. If you choose to work with VivaVideo, be sure to download the free version and do not sign up for the subscription. The features we will be using are all free to use.

The trim feature allows you to trim the ends, or to cut out scenes from the middle that you might not want.

Next, completely remove the audio. This gets rid of the previous dialogue, but also the background music, so we'll need to replace that. To add new background music, go into the VivaVideo music selection to pick one, or find one yourself online and upload it to your video. Try to fit the music to the mood of the video. In my example I used two tracks- one for the regular playful scenes, and one for the fight scene.

"Original sound OFF" will remove the original audio, and the "+ Add Music" button below the clips will allow you to add new background music. You will have an option to add their stock music or "Local Music" from your music library. The "Record" button will be what your students use to record their dialogue and sound effects.

When your videos are clipped and edited, save them into a dropbox that the students can access later, such as Dropbox or OneDrive.

Performance :

Start the class by asking the students if they know what dubbing is. Even if they know, they might not be able to verbalize it, so you can give a quick description here.

Tell them that for the next few classes they will be dubbing their own cartoon, and amp them up a bit by showing them the video/s that you selected. Not only will they be replacing the sound with their own dialogue, but be sure the emphasize that they will be creating all the sound effects too! This is called foley, and you can also teach them this vocabulary if you'd like.

I like to assign partners myself for this assignment, so that I can pair weak students with mid-level students and avoid either having one person dominate the assignment or having two people who don't know what to do. Once groups are established, have them download VivaVideo on their tablet or chromebook, and then direct them to the dropbox where they can download the video that they will be dubbing. Students may wish to disperse around the school so that they have a quiet place to record, so make sure you have the space for it.

This assignment takes about 2 - 3 hours, so be patient and helpful, and most importantly, have fun!


- Fun and engaging project

- Takes multiple class hours

- Accessible for all skill levels

- Leaves your students with a video they can be proud of and can show their parents :)


- Some groups may finish faster than others:

Encourage finished groups to add more, and give working groups a helping hand

- Students might be shy of recording sound effects:

Record the most embarassing sound effect for them if necessary, but make it clear the rest is up to them.

- Medium chance of technological problems

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