In my previous post about using video in business English lessons I focused on the reasons for using graded video materials with business English learners. In this article, I’ll focus on some of the key uses of video in the classroom and for self study. I’ll illustrate each point with reference to how certain types of video can be effectively used in these ways. The videos I refer to below are the ones we’ve developed to accompany the Business Result course series, available in February 2012. If you’d like to come along to my presentation at the BESIG conference on 19th November, I’ll be showing extracts from some of them and suggesting ways to use them.
Video as a stimulus
Video is a great way to start off a lesson and to get students talking about the topic of the lesson. For example, you can turn the sound off and let students watch the pictures. They can discuss what they think the video is going to be about or compare what they see to their own working lives. One way we’ve related the Business Result videos to the student’s own experience is by having ‘Vox Pops’ videos. In these, we take two or three questions the students might ask and answer about their own work and ask them to other real people who give their own authentic responses. This means that you can discuss the questions with your students and compare their experience to those in the video. This is especially useful with one-to-one or small group lessons where you don’t have the benefit of lots of students giving alternative viewpoints, so it’s helpful to bring in an outsider’s opinion.
Video to generate discussion
You can often use video for in-depth discussions. For example, Business Result includes case study style documentaries. In one case study, the owner of a company needs new premises. We see him visiting two locations and discussing the pros and cons of each office for his needs. Students watch and then discuss which location is best-suited for him. It’s an elementary level video but the language is all pitched so students at this level can have a meaningful discussion afterwards.
Video to inform on business content
One of the key strengths of video is that it brings the real world into your classroom. Business video has the power to teach students about business. Business Result videos include numerous authentic interviews with business experts talking about their subject area. For example, there are topics such as leadership, cultural awareness and managing appraisals.
Video to train communication skills
Video drama makes an interesting change from watching documentaries or interviews. Scripted scenarios can include characters and plotlines but more importantly they are a great way to provide models of communication skills such as meetings or presenting. You can play them to train students in the area of the skill itself and the language the students need. The Business Result videos don’t always attempt to offer a ‘perfect’ version of e.g. a presentation. Instead they allow for the kinds of mistakes people naturally make so that students can discuss what they liked or disliked about a performance.
Video for developing business vocabulary and listening skills
The bottom line for any teacher is using good material to teach the language. Video works best for teaching vocabulary and for listening. The visual element often allows for good opportunities to clarify new vocabulary and, with a broad selection of videos, you can teach a wide range of lexical sets. With listening, it’s often worth letting students control the play and pause button on the video so they can choose whether to listen to a section more than once. You can also turn on subtitles so students read what they are hearing. For me, this kind of learner autonomy that naturally comes with using video – and especially video which all students have in their course books – is one of its main strengths.
That’s everything on my list for the key uses of video with business English (not including of course videoing the students themselves) but maybe you have some more ideas. Feel free to add your comments below on this topic. Also click the video below for a sample of what the Business Result videos will include.