Saturday, February 28, 2009

EFL/ESL mash ups

No, its not time for us to chow down but rather use existing media and programs to make something new. This could mean using our own videos and photos along with stuff we find on the internet.

So what has this got to do with teaching English? Recently, I have been working with my students on different projects in which they use video as an extension of their writing assignmments. We work on traditional skills such as writing a discursive essay or story telling then use turn these formats into something more visual such as a mini - documentary.

In every such case I've tried to adhere to these rules.

1 - The project has to be connected with some more traditional language learning skill and/or be useful in getting them ready for external exams (e.g. essay writing, interview skills, debating etc).

2 - The technology has to be easy to learn and use.

3 - All programs have to either free and/or open source. Nobody is going to pay me hundreds of euros to buy software.

4 - Personalise the project in order to suit the students' interests and level of competence in English.

My most recent venture has involved using video taking off the internet from sites such as YouTube so that students have footage to use in their projects. This forms background to their narratives which are either recorded using a microphone or done straight - to - camera.

This doesn't require specialised equipment just access to a PC, a microphone and a video camera/webcam or cell phone. The software used was Real Player (which allows you to download videos off the net), Winff which converts .flv video files (that is the format used on sites such as Youtube) to AVI or WMV format (which can be edited). Finally, we used Windows Movie Maker which comes as standard with every copy of Windows.

Taken all togther this sound like an imposing list however the programs are easy to use and I think that an hour ir two is all you need to invest in getting the hang of them. It's time worth investing as the skills you pick up can used endlessly in lessons.

I would love to show you some of my student's work but they choose not to put their videos on the net. For more of my teaching ideas using video, internet etc. click here.

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