TESOL Video News

TESOL Video News, Volume 19:1 (May 2008)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011
Leadership Updates Editor's Note


Kenneth Chi
Fu Jen Catholic University & National Taipei University
Taipei, Taiwan

It’s a brand new year!

Welcome to the January issue of TESOL Video News. I hope all of you will have enough rest during the coming winter break.

This issue starts with the words from our VDMIS 2009–2010 Chair Nicolas Gromik. Shane Dixon shares his Web site and his experience of using music in teaching ESL. And we also have an article from a teacher and scholar from Russia, Maria Sivoraksha, who writes about her observation of discrediting acts in American films.

The Video IS is soliciting articles for future issues of TESOL Video News. If you are interested in using movies or creating digital media lessons, you are welcome to share your experience with us. Submit articles or announcements to kennethchyi@gmail.comYou 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.

Kenneth Chi received his TESOL teacher certificate at Teachers College, Columbia University, and his MA from New York University and is currently teaching at Catholic University & National Taipei University, Taipei, Taiwan. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for more than 10 years. His interests are incorporating movies and digital media into language lessons, assessment, and grammar teaching.

Note From the Chair

Nicolas Gromik
VDMIS Chair 2009–2010

Dear VDMIS Members,

I hope you all have had a good semester. We are half way through the year and already it has been a very productive time. We have had 39 conference abstract submitted, 1 academics session, and 1 intersection session. VDMIS is also collaborating with other interest sections to deliver some interesting and innovative presentations at the next TESOL convention. Also in the works is an edited book about the integration of digital media in language classrooms around the world. Now we need to get ready for the conference and the opportunity to share and discuss various TESOL topics.

As the Chair for 2009–2010, it has been a pleasure to attempt to place VDMIS back on track as a group that has much to contribute to the teaching field. With the support of the current vice chair Karan-Miyar Duysevi, we were able to move this IS forward for the upcoming Boston conference. Our efforts would have been in vain were it not for the support and guidance we received from members, such as Kenneth and Joyce for the newsletters and the TESOL organization for conference management.

If you are attending the TESOL Boston 2010 conference, do come by the VDMIS booth and introduce yourself and tell us about your interests. We will have an AGM at which time we will be going over the changes in the VDMIS constitution. A while back I sent out the revised constitution in which I would like to include the guidelines for a steering committee. Such a committee would be very helpful to consolidate old digital video teaching approaches and strategies as well as to define new directions for the group.

Attending the VDMIS AGM is a good way to express your interest in volunteering or simply to meet the new leaders. Karan-Miyar Duysevi will be taking over the reins from then on, and Laura Lau has kindly offered to be the next vice-chair. If you are interested in any position (such as newsletter editor, vice-chair, or steering committee) or if you wish to contribute articles or information, please contact us or share your ideas on the VDMIS e-list.

Thank you very much for your support over the years and your interest in issues concerning digital media development.

Wishing you a good term ahead,

Nicolas Gromik
VDMIS Chair 2009–2010

Nicolas Gromik works at Qatar University as an English lecturer and he is a doctoral candidate at Cairns University. Previous to that, he worked at Tohoku University as a senior lecturer of computer-assisted language learning and English as a foreign language. He frequently publishes on the benefit of integrating filmmaking and video editing into the language classroom and regularly offers workshops on moviemaking and video editing using Windows Movie Maker software.

Articles and Information How to Use Music in the Classroom

Shane Dixon

I am part of the project team from www.esltunes.com. Our goal is to help teachers learn how to use music within the ESL classroom. We have written downloadable lesson plans, created specific songs that teach particularly difficult grammatical elements, and much more. Here are a few tips for the beginning and the advanced ESL teacher. For more tips, please visit us at the Web site.

Music can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. Many teachers use it to prompt discussion or to elaborate on a theme in class. Other teachers choose to focus on grammatical principles, vocabulary learning, pronunciation practice, and so forth. Here are a few ideas based on the ways in which you may be interested in teaching music.

You will notice that most of our activities and lesson plans follow a fairly basic three-part structure. First, we give ideas of what to do before a song is played. Then we give a few ideas for what to do during a song. Finally, we give you ideas of what can be done after a song is played. As any experienced teacher knows, much of the success of a song used for the classroom depends on how well the teacher structures the activities.

Here is a basic rundown of what is perhaps the most common method of educating students with music. After this discussion, make sure you look at the list of additional activities for making song use in the classroom truly original.


Create a lyrics sheet: Teachers generally present a song by giving students a copy of the lyrics. These lyrics are often altered in some way:

The cloze passage: The most common way to use a lyrics sheet involves removing select words from the text. Generally speaking, a teacher removes words that are the focus of the lesson. This includes, but is in no way limited to, the removal of the most important vocabulary words or grammatical items. A word bank may also be provided, either on the worksheet itself or written on the board.

Jumbled lyrics: On a single worksheet, a teacher can change the order of the lyrics, labeling each line with letters (A–Z). Students are then asked to put a number next to each letter as they hear the song played. A more complex version of this activity involves having each line of the song cut into strips and then jumbled. Students can listen to the song only once, but then work in groups to organize the strips into the order that makes most sense to them. The song is then listened to again in order to check the accuracy of the groups. The group that is 100% accurate wins!

Funny mistakes: Rather than creating lyrics with missing lines, a teacher can inform students that there are “mistakes” in the lyrics sheet they have been given. As students listen to the song, they circle the mistakes or write in the correct answers above the mistakes. The more absurd the mistakes, the better, as students learn to listen carefully. For example, if the song says, “I love you, girl,” you might write “I love yogurt.”

The basics: No matter how carefully an activity may have been prepared, the teacher must make sure that the activity does not present anything inappropriate (like sexually explicit lyrics for young students) or lyrics that are too difficult (such as impossibly difficult vocabulary with unusual or informal grammatical structures). Does that mean that a song that has some difficult vocabulary can’t be used? Not necessarily. A wise teacher can often predict a few of the most difficult words and explain them to the class before the students listen to the song. In fact, writing the difficult words on the board and having the students guess the meaning of the words often creates interest in the song itself.

Another basic rule of thumb is to make sure the activity itself is at the appropriate level. For basic level students, you might use the following general game plan for the classic cloze passage:

(1) The cloze passage or other worksheet activity is handed out to students.

(2) If the teacher includes a vocabulary bank, the teacher reads each of the words in the vocabulary bank and has the students repeat them.

(3) The song is played twice.

(4) The students are invited to discuss their answers with their classmates for one minute.

(5) The song is played again and students complete the missing words.

(6) The teacher calls out the correct answers. The students exchange papers, mark correct answers with a different colored pen or pencil, and then record the scores at the top of the sheet.

(7) The song can be played one last time, and everyone can sing along. Or, for more timid students, the classroom can divide into pairs and each student can practice speaking the words of the song rather than singing them.

For more advanced students, consider the following variations:

(1) The first time through the music, students are invited to listen to the song without seeing the words. After the song is played all the way through the first time, they are invited to write down their impressions.

(2) The first time through the music, students are not allowed to look at the word bank (it can be folded over if it is located at the top or bottom of a page). The second time through, the words are revealed.

Advanced techniques: Perhaps you are a veteran ESL teacher that has experience using music in the classroom. Or perhaps you are the kind of teacher that loves to create more original ideas when you present a song. Perhaps you find yourself stuck and unsure about how to enliven your classes. Regardless of who you might be, here are a few ideas to make the classroom truly your own.


Consider learning the guitar. With just a very few guitar chords, an ESL teacher can play literally dozens of songs. Consider that the www.esltunes.com “Free Lessons through Music” CD comes complete with a songbook. Students like the extra touch of a teacher who goes out of his or her way to perform in front of a class, even if your musical skills leave something to be desired. Students often find any extra effort endearing, and furthermore, you can always enlist the help of a student or group of students if you find yourself in need of additional vocal support.

Consider having students perform music. There are few things that can be more personal than having students share or perform music that is important to them. You can create an even more comfortable atmosphere for students by changing up the classroom rules for the event. For example, you might consider bringing refreshments or allowing students to sit on the floor.

Need more ideas? There are dozens of tips, lesson plans, and music downloads available at our Web site. Come check us out.

Shane Dixon was born in Provo, Utah, but lived in Southern California throughout his youth. He spent 2 years in Caracas, Venezuela before returning to his birthplace (Provo), and received degrees in English literature, language, and TESOL at Brigham Young University. He has taught ESL for nearly 10 years.

Discrediting in Film

Maria Lisikhina (Sivoraksha)
Far Eastern State University of Humanities
Khabarovsk, Russia

Films are a good source of authentic language input. Recent studies aimed at assessing the validity of film as an authentic representation of actual language use indicate that film data correspond quite closely with naturally occurring speech data (Kite & Tatsuki, 2005; Rose, 2001). These studies suggest that films present reliable models of pragmalinguistic behavior. They allow learners of English to observe not only linguistic behavior; they also provide information about the context of interaction and show the participants’ nonverbal actions and reaction. Thus, films serve as a valuable resource for research in pragmatics and the teaching of pragmatics.

Therefore, contemporary American films and TV shows were chosen as the material for the present research. The data come from a collection of 25 modern American films and TV shows. Their scripts, available online, were downloaded and analyzed. 450 discrediting acts were identified in the selected material.

Our study is based on the assumption that “all speech is situated speech and should be considered in the total situation of activity of which it is a part” (Mey, 2001, p. 94). In other words, a speech act is not considered in isolation but in the context of the situation in which such acts are produced.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary of American English (Neufelt & Guralnik, 1988), definesdiscrediting as something that causes loss of status, belief, trust or respect, or damage to one’s reputation. Leech (1996) ascribes it to the class of conflictive illocutionary acts.

One of the main pragmatic principles that influences the verbal behaviour of interlocutors is the cooperative principle (Grice, 1975, p. 47). But it is not often adhered to in the case of discrediting. Speakers try to impose their opinion on their interlocutors, and they frequently deal with confrontation. Cooperation represents just one end of the possible continuum of interlocutors’ behavior, and confrontation is located at the other end. But we cannot speak of cooperation and confrontation in terms of strict differentiation, like black and white. Rather they represent two extreme poles, and speakers’ behavior is located in between these two extremes, although it tends to be more one way or the other.

Speakers’ intentions determine their behavior. One of the main factors in speakers’ behavior is the importance of maintaining good relations with the interlocutor. When there are no close personal relations between the interlocutors and the speaker wants to show the groundlessness of the interlocutor’s ambition, the speaker usually chooses direct discrediting. The significant feature of direct discrediting is the clarity of speaker’s intentions, as in the following example from an episode titled “Extra Ordinary,” from the television series Everwood.

Example 1

[Ephram again playing the piano. James Geller is watching. Ephram finishes.]

JAMES: It's clear you have the ear [ . . . ] but, God, but you're a mess of bad habits. Your wrists are stiff, your posture is hollow. You, you utterly refuse to move your carriage to the music. [ . . . ] You don't sight read very well. [ . . . .] You haven't been putting in your three hours a day. [ . . . ] If you want to get into Juilliard, if you want to sit in the center, command performances . . . Well, it's all too ordinary really. It's an unfortunate combination of bad habits. Bad teachers that let you get away with it. [ . . . ] I'm afraid too many people have done you a disservice trying to be nice. [ . . . ]

[James leaves. Off Ephram, crushed beyond repair.] (Green & Petrarca, 2003)

For many years Ephram has been told that he is a very good pianist, that he has a talent. So he decides to enter a prestigious music college. The unflattering, frank revelation of James Geller, who listens to those wishing to enter this institution, catches Ephram off guard and has a devastating effect.

When humiliation gets the uppermost significance, the speaker can resort to explicit insults and accusations. People in an emotionally unbalanced, agitated state tend to use impolite, offensive, and vulgar words. It is the simplest but not the most effective way of discrediting. Besides, it should be noted that the choice of explicitly offensive behavior can be harmful not only to the image of the person being discredited but to that of the speaker as well. Even if the speaker’s point of view is based on facts, he or she can be liable to certain sanctions due to the failure to observe the rules of socially accepted behavior. It can cause counter insults and may result in an interpersonal conflict.

When speakers aim to undermine someone’s authority or significance but do not want to be responsible for breaking social rules of interaction, they usually resort to less direct ways of discrediting. Both verbal and nonverbal means can be used to achieve this aim. Films give us a good opportunity to observe both, as in the following example from the movie Pretty Woman.

Example 2

Vivian is no sooner in the door than she is subject to the disapproving stare of a saleswoman standing behind the counter.SALESWOMAN: (coolly) May I help you? [ . . . ]Vivian eyes the saleswoman, puzzled at her tone. She examines a dress.VIVIAN: You have beautiful things. (no reply) How much is this?SALESWOMAN: I don't think it would fit you.VIVIAN: (beginning to get the drift) I didn't ask if it would fit. I asked how much it was.SALESWOMAN: It's very expensive.

Vivian's body tenses as she stares at the Saleswoman.

VIVIAN: What is with you?SALESWOMAN: (unblinking) Excuse me?VIVIAN: I'm going to spendmoney.SALESWOMAN: I don't think we have anything for you here. You're obviously in the wrong place.

Vivian is speechless. She turns and stomps toward the door. (Marshall, 1990)

In Example 2, the saleswoman behaves haughtily. She deliberately ignores Vivian’s requests. If we analyze what she says, we’ll see that she suspends the maxim of quantity by not giving Vivian the information she requires. And her arrogant disregard for Vivian is no less offensive and hurts no less than explicit insults.

Among the nonverbal means are silence, noninteraction, and ignorant behavior. The most frequently used verbal means of indirect discrediting are allusions, irony, questions, and speech acts of advice that presuppose some misconduct on the part of the addressee.

Thus, this brief article presents some characteristic features of the use of discrediting acts in American communicative culture that were observed in films.


Green, M. (Writer), & Petrarca, D. (Director). (2003). Extra ordinary [Television series episode]. In G. Berlanti (Producer), Everwood. New York: Warner Bros. Television. Episode transcript available fromhttp://www.twiztv.com/cgi-bin/transcript.cgi?episode=http://dmca.free.fr/scripts/everwood/season2/everwood-202.htm

Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and Conversation (pp. 41–58). In Syntax and Semantics 3. New York: Academic Press.

Kite, Y., & Tatsuki, D. (2005) Remedial interactions in film. In D. Tatsuki (Ed.), Pragmatics in language learning, theory and practice (pp. 99–117). Tokyo: JALT.

Leech, G. H. (1996). Principles of pragmatics. New York: Longman.

Marshall, G. (Director). (1990). Pretty woman [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures. Script available from http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Pretty-Woman.html

Mey. J.L. (2001). Pragmatics. An introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Neufeldt, V., Guralnik, D. B. (1988). Webster’s new world college dictionary of American English (3rd ed.). New York: Webster’s New World.

Rose K. R. (2001). Compliments and compliment responses in film: Implications for pragmatics research and language teaching. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 39,309–328.

Maria Lisikhina (Sivoraksha) is an associate professor at the Department of Translation and Intercultural Communication, Far Eastern State University of Humanities, Khabarovsk, Russia. Her research interests are related to pragmatics and intercultural communication. Her postgraduate research is connected with the study of discrediting in American communicative culture reflected in films and TV shows.