Using YouTube videos in the language classroom

I have always been a big fan of using videos in my lessons. One of my bosses once told me that videos were ‘my thing’ (and to this day I’m not sure if it was a compliment or not). However, I have used a lot more films and TV series than unscripted videos from YouTube.

There main reason for that is I used to think students, particularly adolescent ones, would be more interested in watching series they are already familiar with than an unknown person from YouTube. That is not to say I never used film trailers and such like, but I didn’t dive in the large ocean of videos as much as I could have.

Something I read last year started to change my mind, though. Rubens Heredia had a very interesting blogpost on the Richmond Share blog about video genres for the language classroom. Vlogs, in particular, were something he pointed me in the direction of and that I have since been exploring with my students.

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Taylor Swift vs. Apple Music

It seems to me that Taylor Swift has taken over the news this week, and not because she put Ed Sheeran in the friend zone. I have seen her being called both a saviour and a hypocrite and a lot of things in between.

I teach a pair of 18-year-old students (B2) who are really into pop music and this sounds exactly like a topic they would be interested in. However, I think this lesson would be well suited for a conversation classes in general.

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DELTA Module 2 – Lexis

Delta module 2 was both my favourite and least favourite module to take. On the one hand, I loved being observed and receiving feedback on my lessons. On the other hand, it was the longest module and the weekend after weekend of reading and writing took its toll on me.

Out of the five lessons I taught during module 2 (1 diagnostic lesson plus 4 LSAs), I think the best was LSA4, which is externally assessed. I chose to work with lexis, as it is the topic I feel most comfortable with. We don’t receive specific marks for LSA4, but overall I got a Merit for Module 2. Below you can find the lesson I taught and the rationale behind it. Continue reading

Dancing: a video-based vocabulary lesson

Today I have a video-based lesson inspired by some of the ideas Luiz Otávio Barros put forward in his Richmond share blog. A particular point I agree with in Luiz Otávio’s post is that teachers should include a language/grammar component when using videos in class. If you don’t, you run the risk of having students tell you they didn’t “learn” anything from the video.

Some years ago, when I first came across Claudio Azevedo’s blog, I often used videos with grammar in mind. More recently, though, I have focused my attention on lexis.

This lesson is based on a snippet of the Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon and the ladies go dancing. The main focus is vocabulary, but there are opportunities for working on connected speech through the use of a tapescript. Continue reading

Using coursebooks – part 2

In part 1 I discussed some of the things I like about coursebooks and how I try to use them. Today I’d like to talk about one of the things that bother me the most in coursebooks: vocabulary lists.

Many of the coursebooks I have worked with, from a variety of publishers, include vocabulary lists or vocabulary boxes, frequently presented with no context. At basic (A1) or intermediate (B1) levels, these lists tend to be part of lexical sets (e.g. clothes or professions). At higher levels, on the other hand, they may appear in lists such as ‘phrasal verbs with get’.

Scott Thornbury (2002:37) explains that “words that are too closely associated tend to interfere with each other, and can actually make the learning task more difficult. Words that can fill the same slot in a sentence are particularly likely to be confused”.

Take for example this list of items that appears in the same advanced coursebook I mentioned in part 1:

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Teaching Curse Words

Today’s post was supposed to be Coursebooks – part 2. However, I’m having problems uploading the videos I want to use, so it has been postponed until next week.

Instead, I’m going to tackle a topic that is somewhat related to my first post. Last year I was teaching a language course for teachers (C1/C2) and someone brought up the subject of curse words. There was enough interest in it that I promised to base a lesson on swear words, including some practice.

This is what I came up with. Please don’t read any further if you are easily offended.

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Using Coursebooks – part 1

This topic has been on my mind since I read Damian Williams’ blogpost defending coursebooks. He is, among many other things, a coursebook writer, so his opinion might be biased. I’m not a coursebook writer, however, but I do like using coursebooks. Or maybe a better way of putting it is I think I have learned to make the most of them.

I’ve been teaching for a little over 11 years now, mostly at Language Centers. One thing every place I have worked at has in common is the use of coursebooks. Some came from international publishers, others were produced in-house. Some were more up-to-date or more interesting than others. Whatever their flaws, I can safely say I have taught some of my best lessons using coursebooks.

This has been a recent topic of discussion in the BrELT chat, and I would like to offer my two cents on how to approach some of the things I find good and bad about coursebooks.

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Vegemite, are you doing it right?

A big part of teaching English is, in my opinion, teaching students about the culture that comes with it. I love travelling to English speaking countries and seeing how similar or different they are. That includes language, definitely, but also customs and food.

I went to Australia a few years back and was faced with the task of trying the contents of this seemingly harmless jar.

I can’t say I liked it. Like most foreigners, though, I probably just did it wrong. Continue reading

Talking about drugs in an English lesson

I’ve recently left my job at an English Institute and started teaching more and more private students. One of the things this has allowed me to do is tackle topics that I might not have been able to in the past. Inspired by 52 I started keeping an eye out for thought-provoking articles that I could use with some of my students. Then I came across an article from The Economist, which is one of my favourite sources of authentic texts, discussing the liberalization of marijuana in the United States. That was exactly what I was looking for. Continue reading