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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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Teaching and learning with video – Part 3: Interviews, vox pops and beyond…

Video camera and microphoneBruce Wade is the Editor of International Express. Building on his previous posts, Video in the Classroom and The Use of reportage and mini-documentary, he considers how video interviews can be used for contextual language learning.

We are naturally interested and curious about what other people do, what they are like, and what they look like. Using video gives students a chance to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise meet, and learn about their life and what they do. A wine producer in England, a nurse in Uganda, an expat entrepreneur in Prague, a travel writer who has travelled all over Africa, all have interesting stories to tell. How has climate change affected wine production in England? What can a foreign nurse do to help eradicate malaria in Africa? How does an American set up a business in the Czech Republic? What does a travel writer take with him on a research trip? These are all fascinating questions that are best answered by those people talking directly about their work, allowing the viewer to see the context in which they are working and talking.

Vox pops allow you to put a diverse group of people together on video so that the viewer can compare and discuss what different people in different professions and countries think about various issues related to their jobs. Simple questions such as, “How important is appearance at work?”, “What do you do every day at work?”, “How do you greet someone for the first time?” tell us a great deal about the culture, the social conventions, and the lifestyles of people from diverse origins.

International Express Video: Pre-Intermediate level, Unit 8: Work Culture

And finally …

Take a look at more sample videos from the new DVD and DVD-ROM editions of International Express. If you want to use this material yourself, the full DVD and DVD-ROM editions feature 44 video clips across the series, each around 4 minutes in length. The footage is a mix of contemporary, commissioned material, fascinating archive material, and clips provided by various corporations and organizations. Locations cover North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Bruce Wade, Editor

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Teaching and learning with video – Part 2: The use of reportage and mini-documentary

Classic red Morgan carBruce Wade is the Editor of International Express. Following on from his first article, Video in the Classroom, he considers how reportage can be used as a visual and factual aid to learning.

The essential feature of reportage is authenticity – real places, people, events, companies, and so on. There is a greater impact and relevance seeing real people in the real world of work and business, rather than a fictional world or a world that is only described in general terms. Students learn about the world around them as well the language.

Reportage can take students to places they would not otherwise be able to visit. It does this in a way that provides the visual and factual context they need to understand a topic in depth, and in a way that they will remember. How many people will have the chance to go round a geothermal power plant in Iceland, a farming cooperative in Chile, or see a classic sports car being produced? How many people have bungee jumped in New Zealand or visited a village in north Uganda?

International Express Video: Intermediate level, Unit 2: Morgan

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Teaching and learning with video – Part 1: Video in the classroom

Audience watching a 3D filmBruce Wade is the Editor of International Express. In the first of three blog articles, he considers how and why video should be used in the ELT classroom of today.

This is the era of video. YouTube serves well over a billion views a day worldwide, sales of DVDs are booming, and the technology is developing rapidly with high definition flat screen TVs, Blu-Ray and 3-D.

When video was first made available, all we had was a big video player and an enormous TV with lots of wires and plugs. But the way we watch video is constantly changing; now we have PCs, laptops, broadband, flat-screens, DVD players, handhelds the size of our palms, and so on. Video is also making a return to mainstream language teaching as we enter a new phase of lower production costs and improved access to digital material in different formats. In the classroom, teachers can exploit the material in various ways.

Using Flash, visual images can be packaged with interactive exercises, subtitles, and other resources to make up a full learning experience. Students can watch video footage and cut backwards and forwards between the video, the exercises, and a wordbank so that they can listen, learn new vocabulary, check they’ve understood, or repeat if they haven’t. They can control their learning experience and tailor it to their individual needs.

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