- My VIDEO for the ELT classroom
For the Easter Holiday, our mission was to shoot a video which can be used for ELT purposes. The first challenge was to decide on what to make. At first I thought of a video which was like those of FIFTY PEOPLE ONE QUESTION videos on YouTube. My original plan was to ask 4 or 5 different questions to 10 people. These questions would be like – What was the happiest day of your life? / – Where would you like to visit most? / – What was the worst day of your life? / – Who is the most important person in your life?
I thought of shooting only the replies people gave and separating them by writing “Question 1” and so on. In the ELT classroom, I would use this video to ask students what the questions were. Then, I would encourage them to reply these questions themselves. I think it could inspire them when they are thinking of replies and encourage them to use the language as these questions require personal replies which can be seen as interesting topics because we like talking about ourselves. Most importantly, a video like this can lead to a natural conversation among students which is based on sharing experiences and opinions. As they listen to each other, they can ask follow-up questions if they are interested in the reply their friend is giving.
However, after a final consideration and due to time limitations, I had to give up on this idea for the time being. Finding all these people, getting them to prepare their replies and answer by avoiding the question, needed too much preparation. Another issue was the setting. I needed a really quiet place with good lighting. In the end, I decided to do something much more practical for which I needed to rely only on myself.
The name of the video I shot is Strawberry Cottage (that is what the house is called as well). It is produced for ELT purposes and it is shot in a house in the UK. The focus is on the aspects of the house which are closely linked to life in the UK. I have pointed out some things which can be considered as different/unusual/strange by those who are from other countries. I think this video can be used in the EFL classroom to start up conversations based on cultures and life styles.
As Gary Motteram (in Tomlinson 2011) states, “Web 2.0 allows many more people to be creative with digital technologies” and he has a point. To shoot this video, I used my smartphone and to to edit it I used the YouTube video editor. Then, to share it with the whole world, I uploaded it on YouTube and now I am writing about this process on my WordPress blog. Although I was new to doing something like this, It was not so complicated and I believe that once you do something like this, you can be much quicker the second time. There is also room for creativity as you can experiment with the new things technology offers.
To explain the process, in the making of this video I shot over 40 short clips and then, put them together to make one video. It took me around 3 hours to do the shooting at home. The editing process was harder because it was my first time on the YouTube video editor and that took around 4 hours to complete. As this was my first project, it was a bit time consuming, but I think I will find it much easier the next time. In the end, this experience gave me confidence as I have produced something on my own which I can use in the EFL classroom with a sense of ownership.
I played this video in my master’s module and we had a discussion with my classmates. They all said that they could use this video in their classrooms as well. Considering the fact that they are teachers from different parts of the world, they teach in different contexts and I was pleased to hear that what I produced can be used as ELT materials with various learners. Thanks to master’s in TESOL, I am now aware of the importance of context when designing materials and making plans (literally for everything related to teaching).
To go back to the source of the idea for this video, I must write about my teaching experiences in Turkey. I used coursebooks to teach and I remember there were units which focused on houses in the UK. Mostly there were pictures of different house types such as detached, semi-detached, cottage, bungalow and so on. The focus on the coursebooks was on the exteriors and that is why I thought doing the shooting inside the house would help produce something that could be interesting for the students. I think homes are the hearts of cultures and showing one can be a great way of introducing the British culture. If it is a multicultural classroom, students can talk about the countries they come from. There may be discussions and comparison.
Another thing that can be done is to ask the students to shoot videos and share what they have produced in the classroom. As Motteram also suggests, technological developments put “the possibilities of the adaptation and creation of a broad range of language-learning materials directly into the hands of the teacher, but also into the hands of the learners.” Involving students in such a project can give them responsibility and may raise their interest and motivation levels.
To conclude, being encouraged to shoot a video turned out to be a valuable experience. Based on my previous experiences I know that students are always interested in watching videos in the classroom. When you play something, it grabs their attention magically and I saw examples of this when teaching in the CELTA course as well. Video has been in our lives for a long time and it is a popular tool in the EFL classroom as well. It has been a journey which started with video players connected to the TV and then we started using vcd and dvd players and the computers of course, but I think YouTube is a revolution on behalf of the whole video thing. Experimenting with shooting a video to be used as ELT materials was therefore a cool step towards being an up to date teacher on my behalf.
//As Sercu (in Hall, 2011, 212) states, there have been changes in ELT materials due to changing conceptions of language competence and L2 learning, technological developments and evolving societal perspectives on education / thus, older materials are supplemented or supplanted by newer resources which may become marginalized / and this brings an element of fashion in materials development and use — as a result this gives teachers additional responsibilities such as perceiving both the strengths and weaknesses of available teaching aids, making well-considered judgements as to when-how-to what end these can most effectively be harnessed to particular learning or teaching tasks.// Therefore just like the other tools, using videos or YouTube in the classroom should of course have a purpose and especially when producing such a material, there are even more considerations and planning to be made.
This video that I have produced doesn’t include much speech on purpose because what I want to achieve with this video is to encourage students to talk about what they see in it. I want to use this video to point out some different aspects of a cottage in the UK and I would like to plan a lesson in which students “talk about these differences” and “they think of the reasons”. When I produce materials or plan activities I always try to include elements which can trigger thinking and talks based on that. I hope my short video can be of use to you and your EFL students as well.
Chapter 11 – Planning and organizing L2 learning and teaching in Graham Hall’s (2011) Exploring English Language Teaching
Chapter 12 – Developing language-learning materials with technology by Gary Motteram in Tomlinson’s (2011) Materials Development in Language Teaching were useful when writing this post.