What does the fox say?

What Does The Fox Say?We use the viral video to raise a serious question: can we understand animal talk? ‘Bowlingual’ detects a dog’s emotions by analysing a bark’s sound waves. Students look at emerging research to decide what else the technology can do. Can we translate the sound waves into human speech?

Learning objectives

  • Apply knowledge about sound waves
  • Construct an argument supported by evidence and reasoning to support the claim that a device can interpret dog barks

Try the activity

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Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – present reasoned explanations, including explaining data in relation to predictions and hypotheses.
  • Physics: Waves – frequencies of sound waves, measured in hertz (Hz).

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – presenting reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.
  • Physics: Waves in matter – describe wave motion in terms of amplitude, wavelength, frequency and period.

Running the activity

Starter Introducing the problem can we use science to interpret animal sounds?
Core task Match dog barks to their visual representations.
Plenary Discussion – does the evidence support Bow-lingual’s.
Extension Study evidence to decide whether the Bow-lingual device does what it claims.
Plenary Can science tell us what the fox said?
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


Viral video What does the fox say?
A humorous video from Ylvis of Norway.

Video Bow-lingual
News report showing the Bow-lingual device in action.

Bow-lingual inventor
An interview with Bow-lingual’s inventor

Amazon reviews
Humorous reviews of Bow-lingual

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  • cantab3 says:

    How to generate the sound?

    I cannot get the .PPTX file to generate sounds. The DOG TRANSLATOR slide has numbered spectrograms and it appears that pressing the number should create the sound, but it does not. Am I lacking something in my version of Power Point?

  • essmoss says:

    talking foxy

    great high quality resource and fun

  • sumeena says:

    What does the fox say?

    I like the incorporation of the high quality video links. A very engaging task!

  • sumeena says:

    What does the fox say?

    I like the incorporation of the high quality video links. A very engaging task! The slide share box is blocked.

  • sumeena says:

    What does the fox say?

    I like the incorporation of the high quality video links. A very engaging task!
    The slide share box is blocked which is at county level making it difficult to know what I am missing.

  • amyjane37 says:

    KS3 Challenge lesson

    I used this with my top set year 8 at the end of the topic on Wave, really enjoyable lesson a really good to see pupils applying their knowledge to a unseen idea and the opinions they had.

    Really though provoking and good activity to get them thinking outside the box! Would defiantly use again!


  • http://www./ says:

    dear I can help u in

    Im master in management sciences – This was a great lesson, very useful for my students

  • lemthurlow says:

    Brilliant Resource

    Used with both a Year 8 and Year 10 group on sound. Both groups loved the lesson and were engaged throughout. A refreshing way to approach the basics of sound waves! Thank you

  • elisavittoria says:


    Thank you for this nice lesson!

  • erussell says:

    An enjoyable way to revisit sound later on it the year!

    A refreshing approach to revisiting sound and the activity helped the children consider the quality of evidence they were presented with!

  • davekier says:

    What does the fox say

    I’m loving this activity. It is very engaging, the students enjoy it and they do become very surprised when I tell them that we have actually translates the language of some animals. Thank you for this.

  • fjw1 says:

    What does the fox say

    Tried this with low ability KS3 and they really enjoyed it although some did miss the point. Very entertaining video!!

  • dombashaba says:

    What does the Fox say

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get the sounds to work at all so haven’t been able to use this

  • Gemma Young says:

    Playing the sounds

    To get the sounds to play please click on the speaker icons on the slides.
    Gemma (from the writing team)

  • dombashaba says:

    What does the fox say

    I can’t get the sounds to work!!

  • iand says:

    Foxes Sounds

    I have used this with some KS4 classes to engage their interest in the topic of sound – fantastic!