TESOL Video News

TESOL Video News, Volume 18:2 (December 2007)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Editorial Note
    • Note From the Chair
  • Articles and Information
    • Video Online: What’s New? What’s Cool?
    • Live From Walden Pond: Envisioning Fluency Through Video Interviews
    • 2007 TESOL Convention Highlight

Leadership Updates Editorial Note

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

Welcome to the November issue of TESOL Video News.. First of all,. I have to apologize for this late arrival of this issue. This time we really had a hard time soliciting papers, but in time we have enough to have an issue. Here on behalf of VDMIS, I wish all of our good members and friends have a wonderful holiday season.

In this issue, our chair David Smith talks a little about TESOL 2008, at New York and the new website issue which was covered in the business meeting at TESOL 2007 at Seattle. Then we have an article Video Online from Hanson Smith dealing with free Websites with video that could be downloaded or streamed to the user's desktop. Also, 
Kathrine Douthit talks about her presentation at the TESOL annual conference. 

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

Note From the Chair

New York, New York will be the site of TESOL 2008 next year. The dates are April 2 to 5. VDMIS has already contributed a lot to what is sure to be another incredible conference. And we have many exciting plans in the works for the months to come.

Thanks again to the VDMIS proposal reading team. Everyone did a great job providing feedback on the proposals. I read all 140 or so of the proposals myself and I can say we received some amazing submissions. We should be hearing back from TESOL in the not-too-distant future and everyone who submitted should be informed as to the status of their submission fairly soon.

As of this writing we are putting together Academic Session and InterSection proposals as well as preparing to review the Video Theater submissions. I'm not sure how the former works exactly; Donna Tatsuki told me to be ready to receive a big box on my porch sometime in early August. I'm sure I'll spend a couple of days watching the submissions and I'm excited to see what comes in!

New VDMIS Web Site Coming Soon!

Those of you who attended the VDMIS business meeting at the conference this year may recall a very active discussion related to our desire to get more video online. It seems that TESOL agrees and our special proposal budget has been tentatively agreed to (we should know for sure in the next few weeks!).

Essentially, the path is paved for VDMIS to have its own site that members can publish to. Approved classroom video and instructional video as well as anything related to video and digital media will have a unique home on the Web and we will be pioneering this effort in the weeks to come.

I do hope everyone is doing well and having fun working with video and digital media. If you want to share with the group, we are always looking for authentic, compelling examples of how video and digital media is used in the classroom. And hopefully in the not-too-distant future we shall have a wonderful Web site to showcase everyone's work and share it with the larger community!

One last thing: TESOL members can now join more than one IS. Please take a minute and go to the TESOL Web site. Once you've signed in you can click on "My Communities" and sign up for as many interest section e-mails and newsletters as your heart desires. However, you must pick only one primary IS. So if you are particularly interested in video and digital media, please pick us. We need you! The more primary members we have, the more compelling our funding request can be and the more we can strengthen our interest section.



Articles and Information Video Online: What’s New? What’s Cool?

Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Professor emeritus, California State University, Sacramento, ehansonsmi@yahoo.com

At TESOL 2005, I presented "Video Online," demonstrating a series of free Web sites with video that can be downloaded or streamed to the user's desktop. Here I provide a recap of my presentation.

Sites With Lessons or Lesson Plans
These allow the teacher to easily create materials for use in class. They include English Bites and Living Language, both of which are based on Australian TV shows that teach English. Real English has 10 free videos with exercises, but a subscriber can also, for a low fee, get a license to access dozens of hours of video with comprehensive lessons. Other television stations, such as PBS and Discovery Channel, have data banks of lessons and lesson planning tools for teachers that can be used by videotaping shows from TV, although these are not ESL/EFL specific. Public institutions, like NASA or the Smithsonian, also have wonderful lesson plans, although they are not organized for language learning. English Trailers is a great site that uses links to movie trailers as the basis for cloze exercises, discussion questions, and composition ideas, specifically for ESL/EFL.

Sites With Videos Appropriate for ESL/EFL
Sites with videos appropriate for ESL/EFL but without prefabricated lessons are also a good resource. The BBC's Video Nation archives are divided by categories and the videos are made by viewers, so you get a great deal of authentic language on topics of real interest, such as teenage smoking. Videos made at conferences and the Council of Europe, which records all its sessions, are other good language resources. On the light side, sites with concert videos, like RealAudio, or the dance demo at NuStudios Dance Community can be used as the basis for listening, speaking, and writing activities. Webcams are also a good source of content, particularly those set up to observe wildlife. What I call "simulated webcamming," using video made from digital cameras, is found at many tourist sites, such as the London Video Bus Tours, which take you through the streets on a double-decker bus, or Beijing Guide: The Great Wall of China, which has an interactive panorama feature to explore the Wall. Students can write about what they observe.

Ways to Create Our Own Video-Based Lessons
I strongly recommend that teachers and students use Hot Potatoes, which can be licensed for free, as long as resulting lessons are noncommercial and shared freely. I showed several examples made by Video Webhead teachers who belong to our users group, Real English Online. We discuss how to create lessons and the pedagogy of video, store resources, and links, and offer help with making Hot Potatoes exercises, WebQuests, and other activities. Most of these are linked from our site so that members can share them easily. We organize or sponsor a free video-oriented session every year at TESOL's Electronic Village Online, and this year offered a mini-workshop later in the spring as well.

Student Video Projects
Finally, I recommend strongly that teachers let students take over the camera. Even little digital photo cameras can take 15- to 20-second videos, and these can be manipulated with free software, such as iMovie (Mac) or Movie Maker (PC), or inserted as media objects into a PowerPoint or HyperStudio presentation. Students can enter their work in online video competitions, such as Video Nation, mentioned above, or mount them on web pages. The experience of video making is an incredibly motivating authentic task that will provide hours of intensive holistic language practice.

You can find links to all resources mentioned in my presentation and this short report on my Web site athttp://www.geocities.com/ehansonsmi/video_references.html.

Elizabeth Hanson-Smith is professor emeritus at CSU, Sacramento. Lead designer for the Oxford Picture Dictionary Interactive and pedagogical consultant for Live Action English Interactive, she coedited CALL Environments and currently consults and teaches online courses; she also comoderates Real English Online, a group supporting language teachers using video.

Live From Walden Pond: Envisioning Fluency Through Video Interviews

Kathrine Douthit with Deborah Fitzpatrick

Last year, as the heat of summer was easing, teachers at Showa Boston were planning the coming year's field trips to local historical and cultural treasures: the John F. Kennedy Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, and the House of the Seven Gables. The students who make these trips each year are all young Japanese women about 19 years old who spend five months in Boston to fulfill a requirement for all English majors at Showa Women's University in Tokyo. The field trips are part of the university's mission "to increase students' English proficiency, to develop their cross-cultural awareness, and to foster their personal growth." Though their English grammar can be strong, our students struggle to speak. In the coming autumn and winter afternoons, we would try to introduce them to politics and philosophy while sharing the magic of the homes and halls of great thinkers. We knew from past trips that there is never enough time, that the language used is complex, and that students have little chance to reflect on the experience or their own ability to speak about it.  The students wrote about their trips in journals, but this writing offered no opportunity to speak—and the closed space of the journal lacked dynamism. 

At the 2005 TESOL Conference in San Antonio, we watched a video demonstration by Professors Valdez-Pierce and Predaris from Fairfax County Schools. They convinced us of the idea that "videotaping can play a valuable role in the process of evaluation, reflection, and assessment." It was a perfect fit! Our field trips were always photo-ops, and when we watched students wave from the Mayflower II into the camera, we realized that video might be the next logical step—a way for our students to capture the memory, speak English, and later watch and listen to themselves talking about their trips. We hoped that by interviewing one another on video, our students might (a) identify weaknesses in their speech and, perhaps more important, (b) see that theyactually could speak English. The impetus to speak the L1 is strong at Showa Boston. Students lack practice, but they also lack confidence and belief in the authenticity of English.

Our Challenges

We decided to use videotaping in our classes and proposed a demonstration sharing the results of our project at the 2006 TESOL Conference. During the schoolyear we implemented our project, we encountered many hurdles. Some were sociolinguistic difficulties. The fact that the program and the class were required led to resistance in some students. Showa students are typically hard-working young women with intermediate to low-level English skills. They come from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds. They tend to excel at grammar and test-taking, but they have very low levels of speech competency. Teachers at Showa Boston go to great lengths to make class work very interactive and participation is a large percentage of the course grade. Nevertheless teachers find it nearly impossible to get many of our students to speak. Many students are simply not used to such student participation. This proves to be, by far, Showa Boston's biggest challenge. In addition, the students in our two classes ranked at the lowest levels in English competency at Showa Boston that year.

Other challenges had to do with equipment. The school was supportive of our project, but money was not readily available. The two working VHS video cameras owned by the school were popular with other teachers for recording student presentations. But we were willing and able to buy our own cameras because the project was an important part of our own professional development.

Finally, there were logistical challenges. The time needed to prepare and debrief students for each trip far exceeded the time we had. We found little or no time in class, and students had to schedule time outside of class to record videos and to view them.

The Rewards of Our Work

Our challenges shaped our methods, and in some ways this proved to be a good thing. Because time was limited, videos were not used to analyze details of speech, such as a grammar feature or pronunciation. (Showa Boston students take extensive classes in listening and speaking in which the focus is on pronunciation and tones, so they receive regular feedback on these micro-features of speaking.) Instead, these video interviews provided a less focused and less formal way of guiding and inspiring students. Video-recording offered both a facilitative tension and a mirror image of themselves.  The act of seeing yourself performing something gives you a conscious and unconscious guide to how you think you should see yourself.  Students were able to envision their goal. 

After watching her first video, one student wrote, "It is difficult and embarrassing for me to interview on video, but watching the video which my friends appear is fun."  Another said, "In this video, sometimes I looked down, so that is my bad point."  Another added, "I can have some purpose."

The difference between early interviews and those done later in the semester was remarkable. Students who originally gave one-word answers were speaking in longer sentences. Instead of questions like, "What was your favorite thing?" interviews began to include more complex ideas, such as the hypothetical question one student asked, "What If Kennedy lose by . . . lose for, uh, Nixon, how do you think now America, how different from Nixon?" Students began to implement their own gestures. Some pretended to hold microphones and others made more characteristic American hand gestures.

At Walden Pond, early in the project, I had asked a student, "Why would life in Thoreau's cabin be difficult?" She responded, "Alone!" This response showed the power of being in these woods and using sympathetic imagination. It also showed students how such a response was problematic.  In a few months, they were answering with full sentences and far fewer pauses.  They were reaching for fluency and meaning. 

2007 TESOL Convention Highlight

A TESOL official presents an award to the immediate chair, Donna Tatsuki, at the VDMIS business meeting at TESOL 2007 in Seattle.