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Animate your Classes with Video! | OUP

Videos are a great resource for language teaching and learning!

Students enjoy watching animated shows and videos on TV, on tablets, and on phones. Videos can motivate students to engage with language, so it’s easy to understand why teachers want to bring more videos into their English classrooms.

There are strong pedagogical reasons for including videos in your language teaching. Videos bring language alive. Students can see and hear language being used in context.

Animated videos are particularly accessible because they make it easy to focus on specific language, and can appeal to a wider age range of students than live-action videos. Animated videos are ideal for providing language models with enough context to support meaning, and enough humour to engage students. Research shows that students respond positively to familiar characters, so if you use videos with characters students can identify, they not only bring the language to life but may also make students want to interact with the characters they’re watching!

Even with all of these great reasons to include video in English class, many teachers don’t. Why not? Teachers tell us that it’s hard to find interesting videos that use the language their students are learning. They aren’t sure where to look for appropriate videos, and when they do know where to look, they don’t have time to search through the videos available in order to find one that will work with a specific lesson. Often, the videos won’t work because the language is too hard, or the video is too long or too fast-paced. Even if teachers are successful in finding a video they think could work with their lesson, they often aren’t sure how to make the best use of it for language learning.

One of the most important things teachers can do when using a video in class is to make the video content as interactive as the rest of their lesson. We know it’s important for students to talk to each other, to ask and answer questions, to use gestures and movement to reinforce meaning, and to use language in a meaningful way. We should use videos in the same way. There’s no reason to make video watching a passive experience in class.

Here are some ways to make video watching fun, interactive, and effective:

  • Show the video without sound first. Then see what the students can remember about the video: body/hand movements and gestures, the situation and any words or phrases that they think are in the conversation.
  • Play the video with sound. Have students listen for specific words or phrases, and do something (like raising a hand) when they hear the target language.
  • Ask students a question before playing the video with sound. Have them listen for the answer.
  • Have students take a role and act out the video.

We’re excited that the 5th edition of Let’s Go will include videos to help animate your teaching. The conversation videos show students how to extend the Let’s Talk dialogues. The song and chant videos make the language even more memorable and entertaining by adding a visual component.

Two of the new videos are available for you to try out in class.

Extended Conversation Videos

The conversation videos extend Let’s Talk dialogues by adding relevant language students already know and showing body language and gestures in context. Interestingly, if students look closely, they’ll see characters using gestures and facial expressions that may be different from what they usually do. During the video, one of the Let’s Go characters always turns to the students to ask a question, in order to make students part of every conversation.

The video from Level One Unit Six is available for you to watch.

 

Here’s the transcript so you can see how familiar language is used to extend the basic conversation. The original conversation is in black. The added language is in red. Blue highlights the question students will answer.

[Set off in a box]

[Cellphone buzzes]

Jenny: Hello?

Kate: Jenny?

Jenny: Yes. Oh, hi Kate. How are you?

Kate: I’m great. How are you?

Jenny: I’m great, too. It’s so nice today.

Kate: How’s the weather?

Jenny: It’s sunny.

Uh-oh. [thunder]

Kate: What was that?

Jenny: It’s rainy now.

Kate: How’s the weather today?

How could you use this in class?

  • Show the video without sound, and ask students to tell you what the conversation is about.
  • Play the video with sound. Have students listen and tell you what language they hear.
  • Have students answer Kate’s question, and then ask each other the same question.
  • Once students are comfortable with the language, have them watch without sound again, and tell you how Jenny is feeling based on her facial expressions
  • Let students role-play the conversation in pairs.

Song and Chant Videos

The song and chant videos make lesson language visible and memorable! Combining rhythm, music, and images allow students to use three of their senses and increases the amount of language they’ll remember. “Where are the bugs?” from Level One Unit Six is available now.

 

How could you use this in class?

  • Have students call out the names of objects they recognise in the video.
  • Have students decide on gestures for on, in, under, and by (e.g., placing a fist on a palm for ‘on’,). Students do the gestures as they listen to the song.
  • Have half of the class sing the questions and the other half answer. (Sing twice so everyone gets to ask and answer questions.)

Using videos that support your lessons can make the language more exciting, and real. The best videos for teaching language will reinforce the language you’re trying to teach. They’ll be short and will match your students’ pace.

Let’s Go fifth edition videos are all of these things – pedagogically sound, student tested, linguistically appropriate, short, understandable, and funny. Having the videos included with the coursebook units makes it easy to include them in your lessons.

Have fun animating your language teaching with Let’s Go!


Ritsuko Nakata, Karen Frazier, and Barbara Hoskins have spent 25 years working to improve the Let’s Go learning experience for teachers and their students. It is the only primary coursebook series that has had the same authors for all levels, resulting in a tightly controlled grammar syllabus that makes productive use of limited class time.


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21st Century Skills in ELT Part 2: the question-centred approach

classroom_students_teenagersShaun Crowley has worked as an EFL teacher and a marketing manager for an international ELT publisher. He is the founder of www.linguavote.com, an e-learning platform for learners of English that features social learning and gamification. Follow Shaun on Twitter: @shauncrowleyIn Part 1 of this series, Shaun Crowley considered the importance of 21st Century Skills in ELT, concluding that the group of competencies that define this term are indeed important to English language learning. In the next four posts, Shaun continues by offering ideas to help you integrate some of these skills into your classes.

Critical thinking skills are some of the key “21st Century” competencies, so it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see publishers position their course books with this benefit up-front, from primary to tertiary level.

Here is an idea to help you maximize opportunities for critical thinking, so that your students are better prepared for the rigours of university education and the professional workplace.

Adopt a “question-centred” approach to your classes

Since the recent curriculum reforms in the US, a question-centred approach to teaching has been gaining popularity in schools. Teachers start a module with a big question. Students consider this question critically, and over the course of the module they synthesize information to form a conclusion in the form of a final homework assignment.

This approach first made its way into ELT with the publication of Q Skills for Success. But whatever course you are using, so long as you have enough time to step out of the materials, it should be possible to customize your lessons to feature an “essential question”.

For example, Headway Elementary Unit 4 is called “Take it easy” and follows the topic of leisure activities. Before you start this unit, you could write this question on the board:

“What makes the perfect leisure activity?”

Perhaps search for a YouTube video that offers a nice way-in to thinking about the question… here’s one I found following a quick search:

Pre-teach some of the main vocabulary items that fit into the question theme. Then spend a few minutes discussing the question and gauging students’ opinions before you open the book.

As you go through the unit, use the various listening and reading texts as opportunities to return to the big question, encouraging students to synthesize and evaluate the different input.  For example, in the “Take it easy” unit, there’s a text called “My favourite season.” Here you could ask:

Is the perfect leisure activity one that you can do in any season?

Return to the big question any time you see a link to the course material you are using. Then at the end of the unit, have students write an answer to the question for homework. If students are not in the routine of doing homework, round off the question with a class discussion.

Have you adopted a similar approach to your classes? If you have, we’d love to hear how you apply the question-centred method.


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Using video content effectively in your EFL classroom

DeathtoStock_Creative Community3Ten years ago today, the first YouTube upload was made live on the platform. Entitled ‘Me at the zoo’, it was uploaded by one of the platform’s co-founders, Jared Karim, and can still be seen on the site today. With over 19 million views on this video alone, and users in excess of 1 billion, YouTube and the influence of video content on our lives is undeniable. But how do we translate this medium into a practical learning tool for the classroom, without losing out on efficiency? Is the integration of digital content into language learning falling victim to fads, or a step towards the future?

In recognition of an upload which changed the landscape of social and digital content sharing, here are some of our favourite articles dealing with the use of video in the EFL classroom.

Using video for Business English

The Power of Business Video Part 1 – Using ‘graded video’ in Business English teaching
John Hughes examines the case for using graded video in the first of two posts on using video in the Business English classroom.

The Power of Business Video Part 2 – Key uses of video for Business English teaching
Taking the Business English classroom as context, John Hughes explores the most effective uses of video for learning.

Practical ideas for the Business English classroom Part 2 – Making the most out of video
In this blog post John Hughes looks at practical ideas as to how the use of video can support business English teaching.

Using video for language skill-building

Integrating video content in the EFL classroom with International Express – Part 1
Keith Harding shares some ideas and video resources for Elementary Unit 6 – Santiago, Chile, focusing on comparative and superlative adjectives.

Integrating video content in the EFL classroom with International Express – Part 2
Rachel Appleby explores a video clip from Pre-Intermediate Unit 10 – Selexyz bookstore, which focuses on using ‘will’ to talk about the future, Zero Conditional and 1st Conditional.

Using video and ICT to present grammar
David Mearns, a teacher in Turkey, discusses the benefit of using video to show grammar in an authentic context and gives a few tips on how to teach grammar using video.

Developing critical thinking by using video to teach essay writing
Vanessa Medina is an English teacher, freelance ELT consultant and writer. Here she explores using videos to teach different writing structures.

How and when to use video in the classroom

Flipping and creating video presentations
Thomas Healy explores the concept of ‘flipping’ in the classroom, aided by the use of video and video presentations.

Video cameras in the hands of learners
Jamie Keddie, author of Bringing Online Video into the Classroom, looks at the benefits of handing over control of the video camera to students.

Using video in the classroom
Christopher Graham, teacher and teacher trainer, looks at the benefits of using video in the classroom.

What a 2 minute video clip can teach us…
Annie Tsai, a teacher in Taiwan, writes about how music and the video-based Everybody Up Global Sing-along changed the lives of her students last year.

Where’s the video?
Rachel Appleby, co-author of the Business one:one series, looks at some of the benefits and drawbacks of using video in the classroom.

Teaching and learning with video Part 1 – Video in the classroom
Bruce Wade considers how and why video should be used in the ELT classroom of today.

Teaching and learning with video Part 2 – The use of reportage and mini documentary
In this blog post, Bruce Wade considers how reportage can be used as a visual and factual aid to learning.

Teaching and learning with video Part 3 – Interviews, vox pops and beyond
Can video interviews be used for contextual language learning? Bruce Wade explores how different formats of video can be used to support EFL training.