Monday, 11 April 2011

Exploring and exploiting video in the ELT classroom

There was a very interesting discussion on #ELTchat last week about the widespread use of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) or English as an International Language (EIL)  and its implications for the classroom. More specifically, those who participated discussed what kind of English we should be teaching. Is it OK to stick to a standardized English (mainly British or American) or we should take into account that nowadays English is a tool for communication mainly among non-native speakers around the world, and adjust pedagogy accordingly? Some colleagues felt that the field should accept and incorporate EIL variations in classrooms, textbooks and materials, as this is the English students most probably hear and use outside the classroom.

I agree that incorporating EIL in the classroom is a good way to make students feel they are legitimate speakers of the language, it contributes to their “claiming of the language for themselves” and therefore helps enormously from an affective point of view. I also think it’s a good idea to raise awareness of the fact that English is a language spoken around the globe by people with many different backgrounds, ideas and beliefs. When it comes to developing oral skills I have second thoughts, though. I have the impression that exposing students to EIL is more appropriate for ESL students than for EFL environments such as Argentina. Here we actually learn English as a foregin language, we learn it in classrooms and many times our students have little or no opportunity to use the language outside the classroom for meaningful communication. Almost all the exposure these students get to the language are to a non-native speaker, i.e. the teacher (who is, generally speaking, also Argentinian). That's why I’m a big fan of materials that expose them to native speakers’ accents, fluency and vocabulary richness, and I often find myself looking for audio material and videos to supplement textbooks.

I must say this #ELTchat was really thought-provoking as I realized so many native teachers were much more relaxed than me on this point. But then, again: isn’t this because their students have exposure to their (the teacher's, I mean) native language in the classroom? As a NNEST (non-native English-speaking teacher), I’m constantly looking for sources of native English because I believe this raises the bar for me and challenges me to go for more. I guess this is what I want to offer my students.

Anyway, these are the webpages where I look for material. By all means add others!

Everyone knows You Tube, of course. There’s plenty of material, you can find some very good things and some very bad things as well! For example, after a unit on Introductions or Job Interviews, I might use one of these:

I just love TED. It’s all high quality content, although sometimes a bit too specific on a certain topic (and therefore over the heads of many of us) and sometimes quite long. I choose short talks on topics I know will engage my students, generally business-related. The following are some on motivation and success:
Vimeo is a website where people share the videos they make. There are good quality videos on a huge number of topics. Some of them don’t actually show people speaking, just music; I use these for inspiration (but not listening of course). The following is one I've used to help my students talk about habits or things people do:

Lots of videos arranged by category. Also TV interviews and movie trailers.

Also arranged by category, it contains many business-specific (sales, marketing, investing, etc.) videos.

TV shows, reviews, trailers. All about showbiz!

Funny videos:
Funny or die

Videos to raise cross-cultural awareness
Short films for both primary and secondary schools designed to raise students' awareness of topical international stories and their effects on the lives of children.

Videos on global issues on Nik's QuickShout
Nick Peachey shares a fantastic collection of videos from OneWorld TV YouTube channel. They are short videos which focus on different issues from around the globe.

If you don’t have the chance to work online, you can download videos from many of these pages to your computer. Try here:  Savevid

In the following websites you can find videos specifically made for language practice. They are generally followed by questions or exercises you can use if you feel like it.

Thanks for stopping by! 


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