Saturday, June 25, 2011

Videos in EFL classrooms?

     In 2005, Rammal stated that “video material can be a very useful source and asset for the language teaching-learning process…” (n/p). Dr. Rammal explains that video material could combine both fun and pedagogic instructions and it can result in a more authentic material that may reflect real interaction. Furthermore, he states that by using videotaped material “teachers can always create an indefinite number of language teaching activities”. I pose everything that allows me to improve my English lessons and which has been proved to do so.

     After reading many articles and studies about the use of videos in the EFL classrooms (Rammal, 2006; Moura, 2010; Mekheimer, 2011), I am really amazed about this new artifact. I must confess I am just getting involved and know nothing how to implement videos in my classes. I have learnt that students can improve all four language skills by employing videos, though.

     What I have learnt up to now is that emerging technologies represent a potential for teaching English as a foreign language.  Perhaps, I should consider implementing videos in my classes to keep my students in constant exposure in the target language as it is a useful tool to improve listening. For example, YouTube, at present the most prominent video network as stated by Moura (2010), offers an unlimited amount of videos that allows learners to deal with listening material which in returns lets them  manage conversation with native speakers. YouTube offers a lot of videos in which native speakers are in. Therefore, by hearing, learners can improve their abilities both at listening and speaking.
     Likewise, Mekheimer (2011) points out that the use video media, especially with the help of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), can contextualize and personalize the language learning process. This author also explains that using videos could facilitate the learning of a language, however, it all depends on “how pedagogically appropriate videos are used and how effective the instructor incorporates them in his/her classes” (p. 27). Reflecting on this final quotation, I should consider carefully the purpose of using videos in my English classes before implementing them just because they are in fashion. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Podcast and Podcasting

     A podcast is an audio programme distributed via the internet. It is a series of digital media files (audio or video) that are released episodically (Wikipedia, 2010). It is another Web 2.0, and like blogs, podcasts tend to have chosen audiences, with materials aimed at a target audience.

    According to Sharma and Barrett (2007), podcasts can provide listening practice that is specifically tailored to the needs of language learners, and as an ESP English teacher, this feature supports a strong reason why to use podcasts in my lessons. Monologues or dialogues can be recorded to provide context-based models of grammar or vocabulary (op. cit). Furthermore, podcasts can focus on pronunciation. They can be used to pre-teach input in a format other than a written form.

     There are a number of reasons for language teachers to promote and use podcasts. One of them is offering real-life listening (authentic material) to the students and at the same time we are promoting learners’ autonomy. In other words, learners do not need the teacher’s presence to practice their skills and exploit their abilities.


    Implementing blended learning requires knowledge of the variety of methods, namely, blogs, podcasts, websites and wikis as well as time to invest in the familiarization of the chosen technological resource and then, using it in and out of the classroom (Sharma and Barrett, 2007). This is absolutely true when creating and designing a wiki.

    A wiki is “a website on which the pages can be edited by the users as well as the creator” (op. cit. p, 119). That is one of the reasons why wikis are said to be more interactive than blogs. They also improve communication and interaction among users (Wikipedia, 2010).

    Educators are implementing wikis into their classes since they promote collaborative work and encourage students’ participations. According to Sharma and Barrett (2007), wikis offer learners the opportunity to collaborate on tasks outside the language classroom. Additionally, they state that the nature of wikis is sharing knowledge and commenting on the users’ input. Therefore, learners can learn from each other.

    As a digital immigrant user, since I am not part of the Net Generation, I realize that it is not enough to decide to implement new resources into the classroom. It also implies to be aware of the time that one has to invest to get familiar with the tools. I have been working very hard to create and design a wiki to improve communication and encourage interaction among my students and it is time consuming. However, it is my belief that it will be worthy at the end.