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The Power of Business Video – Part 2: Key uses of video for Business English teaching

Business workers in phone conferenceFollowing his post on using graded video, John Hughes looks at how video can be used in the Business English classroom. John will be speaking on this subject at the BESIG conference on 19th November.

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.

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The Power of Business Video – Part 1: Using ‘graded video’ in Business English teaching

Ahead of his talk at BESIG on 19th November, John Hughes examines the case for using graded video in the first of two posts on using video in the Business English classroom.

At my BESIG presentation in Dubrovnik this November, I’ll be talking about the power of video in Business English teaching both as an informational tool and for language development.

In particular, I’ll be supporting my arguments with extracts from a new series of ‘graded’ video material produced by Oxford University Press to accompany the popular Business Result series. By ‘graded’ video, I mean that the listening part of the video has been adapted or carefully controlled (in terms of vocabulary and speed of delivery) for a particular level of learner in much the same way that graded readers are books that have been adapted or written with a certain level in mind.

So you might ask: why use ‘graded’ video when you could draw on the vast amounts of authentic video content which is freely available for use via the internet? Authentic is always better, right? Well, I’m not sure that it is and here are some reasons why.

Logically organized and ease of access

I just mentioned the ‘vast amounts’ of video available on sites like YouTube, and that in itself is part of the problem. Where do you start looking if you need a video for a lesson on the vocabulary of retail or a good model version for the presentation skills lesson? You can spend several hours searching in order to find something appropriate.

A set of graded video clips which are logically organized by content and language need solves this problem. It saves time for the teacher, and this ease of access means a learner can watch the video in their own time as well as in class.

Removing barriers to comprehension

As with graded readers, graded video removes the barriers to real comprehension. By ‘real comprehension’ I mean comprehension where the student understands 90-100% of the video content, not just parts of it. By ‘barriers’ I mean the content, the language, but also the cultural barriers to understanding. Many YouTube videos have strong cultural bias which can be exploited in some cases but can also frustrate the learner and so demotivate them.

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