Lately, I have been doing more and more work with younger learners and thankfully, the material that is available is much more interesting and effective than the dull EFL/ESL books that older learners have to suffer. On the other hand, I still like doing my own stuff using new technologies when possible.
This week I helped my students film a story book using free software and the kind of electronic equipment that is becoming common place, at least here in Greece, the result was two hours full of learning opportunities which ere fully exploited by my two nine year old students.
1 Give students a book to read at home. In this case I handed out My Daddy by Curtis Jobling which the students enjoyed very much, even if it did include some vocabulary which was beyond their level. More and more such books have any accompanying CD the story read aloud, that would be the ideal choice.
2 Next lesson get students to tell you what they liked about the story and read out some of their favourite parts.
3 Now explain that they are going to make a film using the story from the book. If time is short or the books too long then choose just one part. The students need to think about what kinds of props they are going to need and what parts of the book to they need help with in terms of understanding and pronunciation.
4 To make they film students need one of the following; digital camera, video camera, mobile phone with audio or video recording capability or a webcam.
5 The students then decide in groups who is going to play which roles, who is going to operate the camera etc.
6 Students rehearse their performances and then record them when they feel ready. Since the books probably has lots of vocabulary allow them to have the book where they can see it.
7 Students video their performances and encourage them to redo anything they are not happy with.
8 Put the footage on a computer. Windows Movie Maker (click here to see a video tutorial on how to use it) is a good program to create a short clip and it comes as standard with every copy of Windows. If there is an open source/freeware program that does the same kind of thing for Apple or Linux then please let me know.
9 Of course a good part of the lesson will involve teaching students how to use the program , however, if Windows is in English this is another great learning opportunity and once the learners figure it out you won't have to do it again.
10 Students then present their videos and if possible post them onto a class blog or website.
As you can imagine there is a good deal that can go wrong with such a complicated exercise in a large class but I feel that it is worth the effort as it allows for an enormous amount of real life language use. In addition the fact that student listen to themselves speaking English is a great way to allow them correct any problems they have with their speaking skills.