TESOL Video News

TESOL Video News, Volume 17:2 (March 2006)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Editorial Note
    • Note From the Chair
    • Note From the Chair-Elect, 2006-07
  • Articles and Information
    • Learning English With Raul : Napa Valley Adult School’s English Language Civics Video Series
    • Using Reality TV in the EFL/ESL Classroom

Leadership Updates Editorial Note

Kenneth Chi, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan, kennethchyi@gmail.com

Welcome to the March issue of TESOL Video News; this is also the preconference issue for TESOL 2006. First our Chair Daniel Walsh provides us with detailed information about the sessions in the conference. Then Marilyn Knight-Mendelson and Diana Brady-Herndon introduce Learning English With Raul, an educational video series produced by Napa Valley Adult School. Finally, Sally Potgieter and Eileen Scheckle, both from South Africa, share their experience of using reality TV in their EFL/ESL classroom.

We members of the Video and Digital Media Interest Session really encourage you to use video or start to think about using video in your teaching. Please join us in any VDMIS sessions that you are interested in. We guarantee this conference will be a professionally enriching experience for you. See you atTampa!

The Video IS is soliciting articles for future issues of TESOL Video News. Submit articles or announcements to kennethchyi@gmail.com. You may also send opinions and suggestions at any time to the leaders (see the last page of this issue for contact information) or to the e-list. We look forward to hearing from you.

Note From the Chair

Daniel M. Walsh, Hagoromo University of International Studies, Sakai, Osaka, Japan, walsh@hagoromo.ac.jp

Looking Ahead to TESOL 2006 and TESOL 2007

Meetings—who needs them? Why would anybody in their right mind, you reasonably ask, having traveled hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometers, at a cost of hundreds, or quite plausibly thousands, of dollars to attend the world’s foremost event in our profession even consider interrupting attendance at presentations and networking encounters to participate in a meeting? I understand your quandary; I used to wonder the same thing. But, the simple answer to the question is “MEETINGS MAKE IT HAPPEN”!

The annual TESOL convention and exhibit is organized largely by your Interest Sections. Active participation in the Interest Section enables you to gain some influence over which sessions, from the many proposals submitted, are actually selected for the final program. It also offers you one of the best opportunities for networking at the convention—guess that’s why they’re called interest sections.

With this in mind, I encourage all of you to attend the Video and Digital Media Interest Section open general meeting on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. in Convention Center Room 32. Part of this meeting will focus on our program for the 41st Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibit to be held in Seattle, March 20-24, 2007.

Have I convinced you to attend the meeting? Great! Then, let’s take the next leap—why not consider serving as a VDMIS officer? If there is one thing I like about TESOL, it is their term-limited, nontenured positions (in other contexts, I would never praise such practice). Year I, you’re an apprentice; Year II, you’re the officer; Year III, you’re advising your successor. Does life in a professional organization ever get sweeter than this?

Think you’re not quite ready to be a leader? Then become a reader, helping to evaluate session proposals for TESOL 2007.

Now let’s take a quick look at what VDMIS leaders and readers have lined up for TESOL 2006 in Tampa:

Academic Session: “Dare to Go Digital” offers a 3-hour practical experience with digitalized/digitalizing instructional materials.

Three InterSections (2 hours each): VDMIS is teaming up with Intercultural Communication, ESOL in Elementary Education, and English as a Foreign Language ISs to present “Stretching Young Learners’ Literature Toward New Understandings”; with Applied Linguistics IS to present “Digital Media in Applied Linguistics Research and Practice”; and with International Teaching Assistants IS to present “Using Pronunciation Software to Enhance ITA Instruction.”

Video Theater features four demonstration sessions, three paper presentations, and six Discussion Groups.

For more details, go to www.tesol.org; on the right sidebar (Convention 2006), click on “Session Information.”

I look forward to meeting you again or for the first time in Tampa.


Overview of VDMIS Sessions at TESOL 2006

Maximizing Your TESOL Video Experience


WED 7:30 a.m. CC 35 DG

Teaching EFL With Harry Potter


WED 7:30 a.m. CC 37 DG

Experience an ESOL Classroom


WED 8:30 a.m. CC 5 VT

Stretching Young Learners’ Literature Toward New Understandings

Hess/Hoelker/Reitzel/ Smallwood/Katchen

WED 8:30 a.m. IS

Digital Media in Applied Linguistics Research and Practice

Houck/Olsher/Russikoff/ Tatsuki/Kite

WED 8:30 a.m. IS

Better ESL Living Through Television Viewing


WED 2:00 p.m. CC 21 Demo

Turning the Spotlight to Students’ Work

do Nascimento/Nogueira

WED 2:00 p.m. CC 5 VT

Teaching Critical Thinking and Debate With The West Wing


WED 3:00 p.m. CC 21 Demo

Vermont Welcomes Somali-Bantu Refugees


WED 3:00 p.m. CC 5 VT

New Applications of Self-Produced Video and Audio


THU 7:30 a.m. CC 9 DG

American Interviews


THU 8:30 a.m. CC 5 VT

Computer Graphics Multimedia Authoring


THU 8:30 a.m. CC 37 Demo

Media as a Medium for Learning Gestures


THU 9:30 a.m. CC 11 Paper

Prepare Video PowerPoint Shows for ESL Classes


THU 9:30 a.m. CC 9 Paper

Asynchronous Professional Development Through DVD


THU 2:00 p.m. CC 5 VT

Using Pronunciation Software to Enhance ITA Instruction


THU 2:00 p.m. CC IS

Public Speaking for Nonnative Speakers of English


THU 3:00 p.m. CC 5 VT

The Best Films to Use in Class


FRI 7:30 a.m. MW 11 DG

Dare to Go Digital


FRI 8:30 a.m. CC AS

Teaching Global Issues With “What’s Going On”

Kates/Larson/Ghosn/ Schroeder

FRI 2:00 p.m. CC 10 Demo

Welcoming New Learners Video: Perspectives From Refugee Children, Their Parents, and Their Teachers


FRI 4:00 p.m. CC 5 VT

Creative Use of Literature and Film


FRI 7:00 p.m. MW 12 DG

Strategies for Watching Movies and Movie Clips


FRI 7:00 p.m. CC 3 DG

Using Digital Video as a Self-Assessment Tool


SAT 8:30 a.m. CC 6 Paper

Note From the Chair-Elect, 2006-07

Donna Tatsuki, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Kobe, Japan, dhtatsuki@rapid.ocn.ne.jp

Greetings Everyone!

The conference in Tampa is coming up fast and for those of you who will be attending there is an impressive list of VDMIS-sponsored events:

Ø A dynamic Academic Session entitled “Dare to go Digital,” with Johanna Katchen and Randall Davis

Ø Three InterSections, one each with Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Communication, ESOL in Elementary Education, English as a Foreign Language, and International Teaching Assistants

Ø Six Discussion Groups hosted by video and digital media veterans

Ø A blockbuster lineup of creative offerings in Video Theater

Ø Plus many other exciting sessions

After returning to Japan from San Antonio last year as the new chair-elect, I began preparations for Academic Sessions, InterSections, and Discussion Groups almost immediately to meet the July deadlines. Johanna Katchen did all the footwork on the InterSection with the Intercultural Communication IS and Dan Walsh supervised the vetting of proposals and Video Theater. A big thanks to all of you who served as proposal readers!

It is never too early to start planning for the future. I encourage you to share your ideas and suggestions for advance planning of TESOL 2007 in Seattle. Here is how:

Ø Come to the VDMIS business meeting Wednesday, 5:00-7:00 p.m., at the Tampa Convention Center in Room 32. Consider putting your name forward for nomination to serve as an officer or to help out with some aspect of Interest Section life. A healthy organization thrives on the inclusion and welcoming of new faces and new ideas. You matter! We need you!

Ø Introduce yourself to me, Dan, or any other VDMIS members and talk about your ideas. I will be attending as many VDMIS-related sessions as possible and can’t wait to meet all of you.

Yours in TESOL,


Donna Tatsuki, EdD, is an associate professor at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies and the former editor of JALT Journal . Currently she is publication chair of the JALT Pragmatics Special Interest Group (SIG). She was a founding member of JALT Video SIG then served for a number of years as deputy chair and then chair of the SIG. She has been a regular contributor to Video Rising, Small Screen, and the TESOL VIS Newsletter as well as the editor of JALT's Video Swap Shop and guest editor for video-themed special issues of The Language Teacher . Her research interests include intercultural comparisons of complaint behavior, pragmatic corpus analysis, and critical research into film/video use in language teaching.

Articles and Information Learning English With Raul : Napa Valley Adult School’s English Language Civics Video Series

Marilyn Knight-Mendelson, assistant principal, mknight-mendelson@nvusd.k12.ca.us and Diana Brady-Herndon, English Language Civics Coordinator, dbradyherndon@nvusd.k12.ca.us

At the 2005 TESOL Convention in San Antonio, Marilyn Knight-Mendelson, assistant principal, and Diana Brady-Herndon, English Language (EL) Civics Coordinator, presented the Napa Valley Adult School’s video series Learn English With Raul . The EL Civics Department developed this set of four 20-minute videos with funds from an EL Civics mini grant. Each of the videos in the series addresses a different aspect of the workplace needs of low-income, low-literacy immigrants. The videos are entitled Pay and Benefits; Medical Emergency; Law Enforcement; and Responding to Legal Documents. Each of the four videos is divided into nine sections, including those that allow students to preview the video, practice key concepts presented in the video, and engage in real-life activities that grow out of the topic. Each video has language objectives in each of the four skill areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and has a civics-oriented objective.

At the TESOL convention, the presenters showed the Law Enforcement video from the series. This video helps students identify appropriate behavior with a police officer when pulled over for a moving violation. Raul, the series’ namesake, is a guide and cultural translator, visible to the viewers, not to the other actors in the video. His comments are sometimes surprising, often humorous, but always instructive for second language learners. He is a favorite with the viewers.

The Learn English With Raul series was originally produced by the Napa Valley Adult School with funds from a Federal Workplace Literacy Grant; professional actors and high-quality equipment and production techniques were used. The language in the final product, however, proved to be too challenging for beginning-level learners (who make up the majority of Napa Valley Adult School’s ESL students). In response to this reality, the adult school staff developed a wrap-around format, using i-movie technology and local talent. The wrap-around has a simple introduction to the topic of the video and the objectives to be mastered, as well as an initial presentation of key vocabulary in the video, supported by explanatory visuals. At the end of the video, the wrap-around segment presents a series of basic steps or rules to be followed by the viewers in their real lives. For the Law Enforcement video, for example, these rules are #1 Don’t Panic! Pull Over! #2 Follow Instructions, #3 Don’t Argue! Cooperate! and #4 Be Honest. The viewers then see the rules applied in a new but familiar situation, which they then practice in a role play or simulation in class. The wrap-around format has been very effective in making higher-level English more comprehensible to learners of low proficiency.

The Learn English With Raul video series is available for purchase through the Outreach and Technical Assistance (OTAN) Web site (www.otan.us) at a reasonable price and has been adopted by several agencies in California and beyond for their ESL or EL Civics programs. The Web site also offers Make Your Point, a series of 11 videos developed by Napa Valley Adult School: This series, which is in English with Spanish instructions and support, addresses such topics as “Talking to a School Counselor,” “Registering to Vote,” and “Citizenship.” These videos are especially effective for low-literacy Latino immigrants. Both video series run regularly on the Napa Valley’s community television station, Channel 27, and provide additional support to English language learners via distance-learning delivery.

Napa Valley Adult School has developed accompanying workbooks at the beginning and intermediate levels for both the Learn English With Raul and Make Your Point series. The curriculum is tied to the video and includes comprehension questions, jigsaw listening activities, authentic materials related to each topic, critical thinking activities, project-based community involvement ideas, role-play instruction, and assessment activities.

The videos for both series are available from OTAN in VHS form. The workbooks are available in CD-ROM format. Napa Valley Adult School recently won a California Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) “Promising Practices” award for the video series. At the award presentation, CASAS cited the adult school’s contribution to enhancing the English language and community access needs of low-income immigrants in the United States.

Marilyn Knight-Mendelson has worked for more than 20 years as an ESL teacher, administrator, and professional educator at the adult level. She is currently the assistant principal at the Napa Valley Adult School in Napa, California, where she is responsible for all language development programs. From 2003 to 2004 she served as the deputy director of the California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO) in Sacramento. She has taught ESL-related courses at the University of California at Davis and Santa Cruz and at Sonoma State University. She has also worked as a language training specialist for the Peace Corps in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Oceania.

Diana Brady-Herndon received her MA in curriculum development from the University of Colorado in 1992. From 1992 to 1998 she worked as a master teacher for ELS Language School in Denver, Colorado. All of 1999 she spent in Matsuyama, Japan, as a curriculum development specialist as well as an EFL instructor. In 2000 she began teaching ESL at Napa Valley Adult School in Napa, California, where she is currently the EL Civics Coordinator.

Using Reality TV in the EFL/ESL Classroom

Sally Potgieter, Sally.Potgieter@nmmu.ac.z a and Eileen Scheckle Eileen.Scheckle@nmmu.ac.za , Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Africa

This article highlights an aspect of a paper entitled “Can Survivor Bridge EFL to ESL?” presented at TESOL 2005 in San Antonio. First we describe the context of the research, followed by the rationale for using the genre of reality TV, and then the reasons for the specific choice of the S urvivor program.


This paper was based on research done with students enrolled in an intensive academic English course. The students enroll for this course with the dual purpose of improving their general English skills and of improving their academic English language skills to be able to study through the medium of English at the university level.

The foreign students in our study have studied English as a foreign language. This means that exposure to English and to English usage was limited to the confines of the classroom. As ESL students in South Africa, they are exposed to spoken English. Although English is just one of the 11 official languages, it is the de facto language of education, economy, and the government. Therefore foreign students learning English in South Africa need to use English for academic purposes in the university classroom and outside of the classroom to mediate many social activities such as finding accommodation, buying a car, and shopping.


As the class is predominantly Chinese speaking, the students often revert to their mother tongue (Chinese) within the classroom context to negotiate meaning. The students have classes for 3 hours per day. Once they leave the classroom, they have very little exposure to English as most often they choose to live with other Chinese students, which thereby restricts opportunities to mix with South African students and people. In addition, the majority of the students choose to watch Chinese programs on satellite TV, which further limits their exposure to English.

Thus we, as facilitators, were concerned that our students were not being exposed to varied, authentic, contextualized language input. This is, in fact, the type of input that students would have to cope with in a content lecture situation. We also realized that our students were not being given sustained listening opportunities in preparation for 45-minute content lectures.

Toward a Solution

While watching the Survivor: Pearl Islands series on our local TV stations, we were struck by how many of the verbal instructions were supported by nonverbal action. Also, during class we found that the Survivor program was topical and of interest to both South African students and foreign students. We began to realize that the idea of Survivor resonated particularly with the foreign students who were in a new setting having to adapt to a different culture, language, and attitude to life.

Reality TV has become a popular genre internationally, with American reality TV shows all the more so because of satellite and cable TV. The Encyclopedia of Television describes reality TV as a “fusion of popular entertainment with a self-conscious claim to the discourse of the real.” It claims that it provides nonscripted access to “real” people in ordinary and extraordinary situations and that this access to the real is presented in the name of “dramatic uncertainty, voyeurism and popular pleasure.”

Thus because the Survivor series is an accessible and popular reality TV show in South Africa, and because it offers nonscripted models of appropriate, pragmatic language use, we decided to introduce it by using video clips for 1.5 to 2 hours per week of our 15-hour-per-week intensive English program.

Reasons for Using Reality TV: Survivor in the ESL/EFL Classroom

The first reason was the rich, contextualized models of pragmatic, authentic language use provided by characters of different status, gender, and ethnicity. In addition, the characters in Survivor have ongoing relationships and often violate pragmatic norms with dramatic consequences.

The second reason was based on the entertainment value of using video as a teaching tool. We believe that it is a nonthreatening medium, providing opportunities for language acquisition as opposed to language learning, in the safety of the ESL classroom. Because students look forward to watching a video and engaging with the material actively and purposefully, their motivation to learn the language becomes intrinsic.

The third reason centered on the advantages of the Survivor series itself. The show occurs weekly, each episode follows a pattern, each episode has physical competitions that a student would enjoy, and in the physical competitions the verbal instructions are supported by nonverbal demonstrations. Another advantage in choosing the Survivor series was that the new series Survivor: All Stars was running concurrently on South African TV with the taped series Survivor: Pearl Islands that we were showing.

The fourth reason grew out of the episodic nature of the Survivor series: Vocabulary is recycled in each episode. Students seem to be able to acquire new vocabulary more easily if it is contextualized and in more familiar lexical sets.

Would we use the Survivor series again as a teaching tool?

Survivor was very effective on both the affective and linguistic levels in that generally students were more relaxed during these classes, more ready to produce language, and more ready to interact with the facilitators as they had a common talking point. Often a student who was usually shy and hesitant to speak would initiate a discussion by asking a question such as, “Did you see them eating worms last night?” This also indicated to us that the habit of watching an English TV program outside of the classroom had been encouraged.

So, we have decided to continue using reality TV and the Survivor series as a teaching tool. It added an entertaining, multimodal alternative in the language class, stimulated many authentic language-learning tasks and activities, and provided contextualized opportunities for supported and extended listening.


Katchen, J. E. (1997). Can Students learn English with the “X-Files”? In J. E. Katchen and Y. N. Leung (Eds.), The Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium in English Teaching (pp. 243-250) . Taipei : The Crane Publishing Company, Ltd.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television. (n.d). 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. Retrieved 2005-02-03 from http://www.routledge-ny.com/ref/television/realitytv.html

Sally Potgieter is a senior lecturer in English in the Department of Applied Language Studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. She has taught English for Specific Purposes (English for Engineers/English for Business), EFL, and ESL. Research interests include multimodal language teaching; applied linguistics; curriculum development; materials development; content-based instruction.

Eileen Scheckle is a lecturer in English in the Department of Applied Language Studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. She is interested in CALL and using technology to develop and practice language skills. She has taught EFL to tertiary level students in South Africa and has been involved in developing material and courses for foreign students wishing to embark on studying in South Africa.