TESOL Video News

TESOL Video News, Volume 16:1 (Feburary 2005)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
In This Issue...
  • Articles and Information
    • From the Editor
    • Teaching Media Literacy through the U.S. Presidential Campaign
    • Student Produced iMovies(tm): Motivation Through Linguistic and Artistic Expression
    • Research on the Relationship Between Listening and Communication Skills Using Voice Recognition Software on the Computer
  • Community Information
    • About the Video and Digital Media Interest Section

Articles and Information From the Editor

By Johanna Katchen, VDMIS Coeditor

After a long break, we are finally able to bring you an issue full of information in the new TESOL style. We lead with the recent U.S. presidential election and ways of teaching our ESL/EFL students to be more media literate. Second, Maggard and Lokon share with readers how they assign students to make their own documentaries with camcorders and digital editing. In our third article, Tobita shows how voice recognition software helps students improve their communication skills. The latter two articles are based on presentations given at the 2004 TESOL Conference in Long Beach, California.

It is perhaps noteworthy that all the authors are either Japanese or teach in Japan. All the current officers of the Video and Digital Media Interest Section reside in Asia or the Pacific region. Is this only coincidence? We'd like to hear what teachers are doing in the rest of the world. Write something and send it to Kenneth Chi, coeditor of TESOL Video News, at chyipin128@gmail.com, by February 15, 2005. Please use the following format: 12-point Times Roman single-spaced, double-spaced between paragraphs, in Word or Text file. Please do not add any special formatting (tables and figures excepted).

If you are crazy about the new digital media or just love to use video in class, why not volunteer to join the leadership? We are looking for new talent to help steer the Video and Digital Media Interest Section. You'll be hearing more about this and about our plans for the 2005 TESOL Conference in San Antonio in our next-preconference-issue! Hope to see you in San Antonio in March!


Teaching Media Literacy through the U.S. Presidential Campaign

By Yasuyo Fukunaga, Tonya Muro Homan, and Naomi Lifschitz, Teachers College Columbia University


In 2004, a year when a U.S. Presidential election was to be held, the media carried an enormous number of campaign commercials and related programs via television, print, radio, the Internet, video and film It is safe to say that ostensibly millions of U.S. citizens learned about the presidential candidates solely through television advertising. Therefore, it is vitally important to teach the viewer how to deconstruct these overt and covert political messages through the development of proficiency in critical media literacy.

Critical Media Literacy empowers people to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language, and sound. It is the skillful application of literacy skills to media and technology messages. As communication technologies transform society, they impact our understanding of ourselves, our communities, and our diverse cultures, making media literacy an essential life skill for the 21st century (from the AMLA Web site - Alliance for a Media Literate America).

Typical questions asked from a media literacy perspective with regard to a television commercial include the following:

  • What is going on in this commercial?
  • Who is in the commercial?
  • What was the overall message of the commercial?
  • How did the ad make you feel? What did you see or experience that made you feel that way?
  • What techniques were used to make this commercial?
  • Was the music or sound effects important to your overall impression of the ad?
  • What issues did the commercial address? What questions do you still have about the candidate?
  • What is your impression of the candidate after viewing the commercial?
  • What type of audience do you think the ad is aimed at? Why? (From the AMLA Web site Alliance for a Media Literate America)

In a graduate course at Teachers College, Columbia University offered by Film and Education Research Academy that took place in August 2004 called “Film, Politics and Education”, a small group of students focused on the issue of critical media literacy in education--both inside and outside of the classroom--in a multimedia presentation entitled “Pop Culture and Politics as a Form of Media Literacy.” The lens with which we chose to examine media literacy was through learning about U.S. presidential candidates through political ad campaigns and films.

In this article, we discuss critical media literacy through viewing presidential campaign commercials and movies with the U.S. president as the main protagonist. We also outline how these media can be useful tools in helping young people further develop their critical thinking skills.

Part One: Using the U.S. Presidential Campaign Commercials

Similar to movies or television, campaign commercials include carefully crafted scripts, visuals, editing, music and performances. This form of media plays on viewers’ emotions creating and/or altering one’s perceptions. Because of their profound influence, students must be encouraged to look at campaign commercials with a critical eye in order to understand what techniques and messages the ads employ. The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2004 is featured on the Web and it is an excellent device to introduce students to issues and concepts of media literacy.

I stumbled across the Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2004 on a trip to the American Museum of the Moving Image. This online exhibition is viewed on a computer screen in the museum cafe. This timely exhibition features television and Web based commercials from every presidential election since 1952. In 1952, television was becoming a prominent part of American culture, as 19 million Americans had a television. Rosser Reeves, the executive director of Disney, convinced Eisenhower to use commercials as part of his campaign strategy. Today TV sets are ubiquitous, and the candidates spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercials. Furthermore, as the Internet grows it has become crucial for the candidates to use the Web effectively, and in the 2004 presidential campaign, each candidate had a set of Web commercials different from those screened on television. (From educational material- American Museum of the Moving Image)

Educational Aims of the Lesson
  1. To develop critical thinking skills.
  2. To understand the influence of campaign ads on the public
  3. To learn how technology has progressed over time, including how the Web is an important component of the media.
  4. To learn how history affects politics and how the commercials reveal important political events of their time
  5. To learn about current events.
  6. To learn how commercials help form individuals’ perception of candidates through both negative and positive ads.
  7. To develop skills for analyzing and deconstructing different forms of media and popular culture.

If your class is connected to the Internet, all you need is an LCD (liquid crystal display) projector to show the commercials to your class. If this is not possible, one can easily do this exercise by recording current campaign adds from TV via VHS and playing them back in class on a VCR. Teachers should facilitate in depth discussions through asking students open-ended questions based on their observations (see the media literacy questions listed). Also, students should compare and contrast commercials from different time periods using The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2004 archive to understand their technological development and historical significance. There are many ways to navigate through the Web site, for instance, chronologically, in terms of candidates, and in terms of issues (war, education, civil rights, etc.). For homework, students should prepare detailed responses to the media literacy questions of two or more commercials that they find compelling.

Part Two: Follow-up Activity: Student Created Commercials

After exploring and analyzing campaign commercials students can make commercials based on a campaign issue that concerns them, for instance, education, violence, drugs, health care, the environment, or terrorism. As creative directors of their own commercials, students will solidify the critical thinking skills needed to analyze the campaign commercials and will learn a whole new host of other skills.

Educational Aims of the Lesson
  1. Students will learn and gain a working knowledge of digital video cameras and digital editing technology.
  2. They will learn how to use and create different kinds of shots in order to affect the overall feeling and message of their commercial.
  3. They will learn how to import media into computers and manipulate footage through the editing process.
  4. They will learn the value of collaboration with others.

Depending on the teacher’s resources and knowledge of digital technology, this project could be as simple as students creating their own story boards, scripts, and then acting out a campaign commercial; or as advanced as students filming and editing a commercial. Teachers can collaborate with the technology department and learn how to film and edit commercials using editing software such as I-Movie. In addition, well-equipped technology departments can teach students to use Final Cut Pro editing software.

  • Story boards and scripts: In small groups students will create a storyboard that includes shot lists (wide shots, medium shots, close-ups) and a script.
  • Filming: Students will operate a basic digital video camera, direct and act out their scripts. (The lesson can stop at this point and commercials can be screened). If the school has editing facilities, students should collect 10-20 minutes of footage. Students should record scenes using a variety of different angles and lenses that include wide, medium and close up shots in order to build scenes in editing.
  • Editing: Students will import their data into the computer and use original scripts and storyboards to model their commercials by cutting and pasting media into a sequence.
Part Three: How the US President is Portrayed in Hollywood Films

Because of the long alliance both in politics and economics between Japan and the United States, the US presidential campaign always has an influence over the lives of Japanese people. However, news sources are limited and there are no campaign commercials on Japanese TV. Japanese people might be surprised to hear the word “campaign commercial” and think that American materialism means that even the president can be sold as a commodity. Campaign commercials are one representation of American culture both in concept and content in the media age.

For people outside the US, Hollywood films are probably the main way in which they can become familiar with US presidents. If you type in “u.s.-president” on the home page of the movie website http://us.imdb.com/, you’ll find as many as 190 hits on matching titles in which the US president is a character with speaking lines.

Film is such a powerful medium that speaks directly to our ears, eyes and emotions that it makes us easily believe stories, constructs our memories, and sometimes confuses the real and the fictional. Everyone knows, for example, how the US president’s executive room is furnished even without visiting the White House. Some students even believe that Tom Hanks used to be a football player and shook hands with JFK because of the subtly edited news-reel style black and white film in his academy award winning movie Forrest Gump (1994).

Film literacy becomes more important when the US president is delineated as a larger than life character in a movie, since Hollywood film always has to have a super hero who saves the world in its story. In Independence Day (1996), the US president is a young and spirited air force fighter, in the film Air Force One (1997), “he” is a Medal of Honor Vietnam veteran who never surrenders to terrorists, and in The American President (1995), “he” is a politician, good father, and a romantic lover.

Viewing guides are helpful to understand films, both in their syntagmatic and paradigmatic phase. In other words, a viewing guide is not enough when it only traces the narrative line, the way of arranging things, or the linear relation to the narrative. Approaching a film from a choice line can nourish critical thinking in film viewing. By asking why this particular motif (gender, race, clothes, character, music and so on) is chosen and why others are excluded in this individual image deepens an understanding of the film.

General Questions
  1. Why does the U.S. president have to be a man? Why not a woman?
  2. Why a Caucasian? Why not black or yellow?
  3. Why always in dark suits? Why not in jeans and T-shirt?

The following questions relate to the introductory part of Michael Douglas’ film The American President. The introduction in this movie is apparently longer than that in other films. The camera moves rather slowly, showing the historical faces, portraits on the wall and sculptures in the White House in a nostalgic sepia color. By recognizing each of the faces, the audience gets involved in the historical world, and is ready to accept Michael Douglas as a real president when he appears on the screen.

Questions for the Introductory Part of The American President
  1. How many presidents did you recognize in the introductory part of the movie?
  2. How did you feel when you saw all the historical faces?
  3. Why is this introduction longer than in other movies?
  4. What was your first impression when Michael Douglas appeared on the screen?
  5. Describe the U.S. president in this movie.
  6. Compare the U.S. president in this movie with President Bush.

Hollywood films are often said to be a mirror which reflects societal reality. Then what is societal reality? It might be Hollywood’s or the American people’s desire of how they want to show their president to the world, just like in the campaign commercials on TV. Analyzing Hollywood films and carrying out a close reading of them, therefore, enables us to look into the camera lens from the other direction to better understand American people and American culture.


This article has been an attempt to outline an approach to developing critical media literacy skills on the topic of the recent U.S. presidential campaign. The activities help students learn strategies to analyze and critique the image of the US president portrayed in presidential ads as well as in Hollywood films. We believe this approach helps students become not just media literate, but also civic literate members of a global community.


“Analyzing Political Ads,” (2004). By the People: Election 2004. Retrieved on 7/15/04, from http://www.pbs.org/elections/kids/lessons.

Berger, J. (1977). Ways of Seeing. NY: Penguin Books.

“The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2004,” (7/ 2-8/15/04). NY: American Museum of the Moving Image Calendar.

“Media Awarness Network,” (2004). Retrieved on 7/15/04, from http://www.media-awarenedd.ca.english/teachers/media_literacy

Student Produced iMovies(tm): Motivation Through Linguistic and Artistic Expression

by Jeff Maggard and Elizabeth Lokon

Any way you look at it, student produced iMovies are effective ways to build language and academic skills. Over the past four years, faculty at Miyazaki International College (MIC) have required students to create iMovie documentaries as a means of developing content knowledge, English ability, intercultural awareness and IT skills. Moreover, empowering students to express themselves artistically through digital media has proven to be highly motivational: students go the extra mile to produce high quality linguistic and visual products. In what follows we will describe how student produced iMovie documentaries have been used in three courses: Japanese Art History, Introduction to Sociology, and EFL.

During their first year at MIC, students are generally not prepared to conduct their own research projects in English. This is not an uncommon phenomenon (Leki & Carson, 1994). Having poor research skills poses a significant challenge for MIC because all students must write a 6500-word qualitative or quantitative thesis in English in their senior year.

To develop research skills, content knowledge, language ability and IT skills simultaneously, the sustained-content language teaching (SCLT) approach, rooted in content-based instruction (CBI), is often employed. The SCLT approach is useful because it helps to transcend the often dichotomized objectives of teaching content versus teaching language (Murphy & Stoller, 2001). Moreover, the process of using technology to integrate and balance these components in a mutually supportive manner has proven to be very advantageous.

At MIC, all discipline specific courses in the first two years are team taught (i.e. there is one content specialist and one EFL specialist in the classroom at the same time). Drawing from broad experience in pedagogy, a variety of SCLT approaches are currently being put to use in order to integrate iMovie documentary projects in these content and language integrated courses.

Student Projects Art History

In the first example, teachers in a Japanese Art History course used the SCLT approach to have students create iMovie documentaries of local Shinto shrines in place of writing traditional term papers. The teachers prepared students using traditional methods, as one would for a term paper. To develop basic research skills, students were asked to generate research questions, conduct library and Internet research, write academic text, prepare oral narration, and record and edit digital video text. All of this work was done collaboratively, supplemented by individualized instructions throughout the process. The final products were 20 minute video documentaries on Shinto shrines written, produced, and narrated by small groups of students. Teachers evaluated the documentaries for English and content objectives.


Not only have student produced iMovies been used in place of term papers, they have also been used to augment semester long course projects. In Fall 2002 and Fall 2003, students enrolled in Introduction to Sociology communicated online (asynchronously, throughout the semester) with college students in the USA using a conferencing program called WebBoard™. Students used the same textbook on both sides of the Pacific and talked to each other (electronically) every week about issues related to U.S. and Japanese society. In an attempt to provide the U.S. students with a thicker, richer portrait of Japanese society, in the first year the MIC students produced short videos related to various aspects of Japanese socialization processes. In Fall 2003, another approach was used. The students at the American university were invited to chose topics that they would like to know more about. The result was that MIC students produced short, 3-5 minute movies on aspects of Japanese nightlife, weddings, consumerism and food culture.

To go with these iMovies, the MIC students in both of these courses also created web pages to illustrate the themes of their movies and to flesh out further details that couldn't be expressed in the movies (e.g. research statistics). In each course, the iMovies (along with their corresponding web pages) were used in place of term papers. At the end of each semester, for assessment purposes, students gave formal oral presentations of their work and the entire project counted as part of the final examination grade. In these ways sociology content and English ability were measured. Both projects can be viewed at http://www.miyazaki-mic.ac.jp/faculty/jmaggard/fall02/SS105/projects.htm.


The sustained content learning approaches described above are, however, not the only way in which iMovies can be effective. The final example is from an upper-intermediate EFL course from Fall 2000. In this class, students produced iMovie documentaries in a mere two weeks, using only 4 hours of class time. In a context similar to that of the sociology courses above, individuals at MIC communicated throughout the semester via WebBoard (asynchronously) with students at Kansas City Career Academy High School in the USA. The discussions were guided at times and unguided at other times, and it was quickly apparent that the high school students knew very little to nothing about Japan and really wanted to understand more. Students on both sides were highly motivated to learn and share ideas about their cultures. In response to KCCA students' requests, MIC students produced 3-5 minute video documentaries with corresponding web pages to teach their American counterparts about contemporary and traditional Japanese culture. This project can be seen at http://www.miyazaki-mic.ac.jp/faculty/jmaggard/fall00/e2maggard/exchange.htm.


In the Art History course, the bulk of the time (5 weeks, with six class hours per week) was spent on learning the content, writing the academic text, preparing, and rehearsing the oral narration for the video. The process of teaching and creating iMovies was accomplished in one week.

For the Sociology and EFL courses, little class time was spent on teaching students to use iMovie as well. The entire process usually took about 1 1/2 hours. This is because it is a fairly intuitive program that is simple to use. (In fact, we have seen Japanese elementary school students, not yet literate in English, who have made slick iMovie productions.)

For the sociology and EFL courses, the teachers used an LCD projector in a computer lab to do the following:

  • show a short (teacher produced) iMovie
  • demonstrate how this movie was created (using the original, raw media)
  • show how to download raw video footage as "clips"
  • demonstrate how to import *.jpeg photos into iMovie
  • show how to make transitions, titles, and effects
  • demonstrate how to import audio files (music and voice)
  • show students how to record the narration (*.aif format)

After observing the iMovie demonstration, students were given time to "play" with iMovie and to ask questions. It is worth mentioning that, because iMovie is so simple to learn and use, questions are usually handled by peers.

After the demonstration, back in the regular classroom, students formed groups, selected topics and chose group task roles (e.g. web designer, English editor, camera person, iMovie editor and project leader). Next, students created storyboards for their iMovies and web pages (and teachers helped them to focus on course content and English). Then, students were asked to collect existing media or to produce/create their own original digital media. While the digital media collection and production process took shape, students conducted library and Internet research, wrote short essays, and composed web pages (usually as homework, sometimes in class). After the iMovies and web pages had been completed and checked by the teachers, these were uploaded and links were made for outsiders to view the work. As a final step, students were asked to make formal presentations of the iMovies and web pages (open to the entire campus).

In the end, the sociology projects took 4 weeks, working in class 3 hours per week. The EFL course took even less time, 2 weeks and 4 hours. Of course, the relatively short amounts of time were all made possible because the students were highly motivated and worked long hours in the computer labs and off campus.


Students both enjoy and benefit academically from using iMovies in their courses. From an action research study conducted in the sociology courses (Maggard, Toyota & Lahar, 2004), students reported that they found iMovie beneficial for learning content and language. In response to the question whether using iMovie was useful, one hundred percent said they agreed or strongly agreed that iMovie was beneficial (giving it a 4.5 on a 5 point scale). In comparison, using WebBoard to communicate with students in the USA received a 4.7, and the web page creation activity received a 4.5.

In addition to the quantitative evidence of the benefits of iMovie, in end of semester student evaluations for the EFL course and for the sociology courses, the overwhelming majority of students wrote that iMovie was "fun to use" and said that they wanted to continue using it in other courses.

In the Art History course, students felt gratified for learning more about their own culture through the documentary-making project. They wrote (verbatim quotations):

“From this project, I can learn about Shinto shrine. I didn’t know that all things have a meaning, why there are two torii, or why gods are enshrined. I could learn about Japanese culture. As a Japanese, this project is very important for me.”

“I could learn about the history of Hachiman shrine…. I didn’t know anything about this shrine in spite of living in Miyazaki.”

“…The shrine is close to my house and I didn’t know anything about it despite I used to visit.”

Any way you slice it--whether a teacher opts to use a sustained-content language teaching approach or whether iMovie is utilized as a supplement to a short module--iMovie works because students have out-of-the-ordinary motivation to produce high quality videos. (Ah, the power of artistic expression.)


Leki, I. & Carson, J. G. (1994). Students' perceptions of EAP writing instruction and writing needs across the disciplines. TESOL Quarterly, 28(1), 81-101.

Maggard. J. D., Toyota, H. & Lahar, C. J. (2004). Interlanguage development and identity transfer through CMC. Unpublished manuscript.

Murphy, J. M. & Stoller, F. L. (2001). Sustained-content language teaching: An emerging definition. TESOL Journal, 10(2/3), 3-5.

Jeff Maggard teaches CBI courses in sociology, political science, teacher education and intercultural communication at Miyazaki International College. His research interests include sociolinguistics, peace studies, language policy, and teaching with technology.

Elizabeth Lokon teaches English, cross-cultural communication and education courses at Miyazaki International College. Her teaching and research interests include TESOL pedagogy, multicultural education, cross-cultural communication, and teacher education.

Research on the Relationship Between Listening and Communication Skills Using Voice Recognition Software on the Computer

By Rumi Tobita


With regard to foreign language education in Asia, computer-based English training has become quite common at universities in Japan. Provided that each student has his or her own computer or notebook PC, even schools that are not equipped with computer rooms can offer effective language training programs in which students can learn with more flexibility, choosing their own place and time to study. Following this changing trend in the educational environment, I have conducted research focusing on the effectiveness of the use of computer and voice recognition software in improving communicative skills, along with how to spark students’ interest and motivation to improve their English. Here I present an introduction to my research and the subsequent results of the study.


The main purpose of the research was to determine the relationship between listening and communication skills in English by using computers with voice recognition software. As listening and communication skills are related to each other, I hypothesized that students would improve their communication skills along with their listening skills by using this program. If students improved, then the method and program researched can be considered as an effective and useful teaching method for English teachers.

Another objective of the research was to determine the effectiveness of the program in improving students’ attitudes toward English studies. If the training is encouraging and attractive to the participating students, it should result in a positive attitude on the part of the students and their skills should improve in a positive manner as well.


In this section we summarize the methodology of the study by looking at the subjects of the study, the computer system used, and the procedures involved in data collection. Also included is a section on why videotaping was used as a supplementary means of evaluation.


The subjects were all volunteers from my class Practical English 1 & 2. The course was designed to help students learn and practice English communication skills so the students could make use of these skills in ordinary circumstances. The course was set for the low intermediate students. All were undergraduate students in the latter half of college study. Before enrolling in the course, all students had taken either the TOIEC or another standardized English test, and scores on these exams were used to ensure that only students at the same level participated in the research study. Research was conducted with the low intermediate students, who were first- and second-year college students between 18 and 20 years old. Although students were eager enough to participate in the study, they were a little shy and had difficulty expressing themselves in English. On average their oral communication skills were minimal and they were not confident enough to speak aloud in public.

Computer System

The computer system used for the program was run by voice recognition software called “English Communication 911” (in Japanese, “Eikaiwa 110-ban”; it is available only in Japan). This English practice software has been especially developed for improving listening and communication skills. It has a voice recognition function, so as the students speak into the microphone, the computer picks up the voice and is able to evaluate their pronunciation of the words. At the beginning, the computer introduces a sentence that can be heard through the headset. The students then repeat the phrase into the microphone, using correct pronunciation and intonation. The sample sentences are short, but long enough so that the students are able to practice simple phrases such as “Whom are you looking for?” After the phrase has been spoken, the computer will show the recognized portion of the phrase, and if the word or phrase cannot be recognized, the computer will display the “unrecognized” sign, prompting the student to repeat the specific phrase to complete the whole sentence. The system has the ability to pick up a range of words, which allows the students to concentrate on pronunciation and intonation. This, in turn, allows students to learn where they need to improve and to practice those improvements.

To encourage the students the computer software does not simply evaluate and say “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad,” but instead attempts to encourage the students when they are able to complete the sentences by saying “excellent” and “magnificent.” The better recognized phrases are rewarded with more encouragement. This is designed to keep the students motivated. The system also has an adjustable time control function; the students are required to repeat the phrases in a particular amount of time. This function also allows students to work at a comfortable pace, which is effective in bringing their communication skills to a higher level.


The research was carried out in three steps: the initial exam, training using the specialized computer program along with videotaping of the students, and the final exam accompanied by an additional videotaping. The initial exam consisted of a self-introduction recorded on videotape. This was done so that students could see the results from before and after the training and compare their performances objectively.

Next, the selected students participated in the program by actually taking the computer-based training course, including repeating their listening and communication practice using a computer with voice recognition software and more videotaping of them. The students’ training practice was also videotaped and they were given the opportunity to observe their own speaking performance on a television. The purpose of the videotaping was to show the students their actual performances and let them judge and evaluate themselves from an objective point of view. This second step was repeated several times until the students felt confident about their performance.

In the third and final step the students took the same kind of exam that they had taken at the beginning of the project. The score of the test was used to judge how much the students had improved in their listening skills. Also, their self-introduction was taped again and compared with the video that was initially taken before the training. The comparison of the videotape was used as more evidence of the obvious positive outcome of their improved performances.


The process of the research was conducted with a combination of the use of the computer system and videotaping of the students. The computer provided a good method to improve students with listening and speaking skills, but because it is difficult to evaluate oneself while speaking to the computer, it may not have been enough to improve their communication skills. It was decided to supplement the learning experience by making videos of the students actually practicing with the computer and then showing the recording to them so they could see themselves after they had completed the computer training. This provided the students with an opportunity to listen to their own pronunciation and way of speaking, from an objective point of view. Although the computer software provides a way of improving the students’ listening skills and evaluates their communication performances, I believe it is the combination of watching themselves on the video, along with the software, that enabled the students to recognize the way they express the words. This in turn helped them to learn what they needed to change or improve upon to have better communication skills. By repeating this process, the students were expected to gradually improve their overall listening and speaking skills to become more confident and comfortable in listening, communicating with others, and expressing themselves.

Evaluation and Results

Evaluation of the training was measured by the results of the final exams taken by the students (i.e., TOIEC or other authentic exams) compared with the original exam results. This was done to determine whether their listening skills had improved. Students’ exam scores increased by almost 15%. The average scores on the final exam (conducted at the end of the first semester) were 86 points compared with 75 points at the beginning (test conducted as a midterm exam).

The students were again videotaped expressing their impression of the training. Comparison of the original videos with the final videos permitted evaluation of the improvements they had made in their communication skills. The videotapes were evaluated by a native speaker of English who was a teacher at the same school. The evaluation was based on five measures: vocabulary, grammar, fluency, pronunciation, and attitude. On the basis of these criteria, the evaluator rated the improvement in each area on a 1 to 5 scale and also reported an overall score. On the final video performance all students demonstrated more confidence as reflected in their facial expressions and more fluency in their self-expression compared with the videotape from the beginning of the program.


According to my research, the students were able to obtain positive results from the training, which verifies a strong relationship between listening and speaking skills. The more the students improved their listening skills, the more they were able to understand the phrase and sentences, which became the basis for their speech. As the students become more confident about the phrases they spoke, the phrases become imbedded in their minds.

By reviewing themselves in the video, they became more confident and comfortable enough to have more positive attitudes when communicating with others. The computer training itself definitely had the function of letting students learn and practice their listening skills; however the computer training combined with videotaping had a stronger impact on the students than did the computer training alone. This combination allowed them to see themselves actually practicing and let them see what should be done to improve their communication skills.

As there is greater advancement in computer technology and software, methods of teaching English are rapidly changing. Computer training alone has only limited value. It is the personalization of language learning in combination with computer training, such as videotaping, that has the most positive and strongest overall impact on students’ learning. The combination of technology and the personal human touch has great potential for practical application in the world of ELT.

Rumi Tobita is an associate professor at Ashikaga Institute of Technology and a PhD candidate at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.

Community Information About the Video and Digital Media Interest Section

TESOL's Video and Digital Media Interest Section (VDMIS) focuses on the production and use of video and digital materials in English language teaching. Areas include student- and teacher-produced videos, reviews of commercially available materials, listening/speaking/reading/writing instruction through movies and TV, media literacy, film analysis, intercultural training, video as an assessment tool, teacher education, interactive video, distance learning, and the use of new video-related technology.

VDMIS Community Leaders, 2004-2005

Chair: Jonathan Gourlay, e-mail jgourlay@comfsm.fm
Chair-Elect: Daniel M. Walsh, e-mail walsh@hagoromo.ac.jp
Coeditor: Kuo-Pin Chi 
Coeditor: Johanna E. Katchen, e-mail katchen@mx.nthu.edu.tw
Coeditor: Jia-Jen Luo, e-mail starlitluo@hotmail.com 

Discussion E-List: Visit http://www.tesol.org/getconnected to subscribe to VDMIS-L, the discussion list for VDMIS members, or visithttp://lists.tesol.org/read/?forum=vdmis-l if already a subscriber.