Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The latest Think Tank

Think Tank, a regular feature at ELT News, has a new panel discussion up. This time it's all about self-study.

Interesting stuff. I especially liked Curtis Kelly's notes on extensive listening.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

new article in ESL Magazine

A former colleague, and good friend, Andy Starck, was recently published in an issue of ESL Magazine. He wrote a colorful piece about his experiences teaching at a university in southern Taiwan, titled "Time for Change". Although the article is not available on the ESL Magazine website, I highly recommend it to anyone who has access to the latest issue.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

book trailers

Last week, I read this article on the website:

Never Coming to a Screen Near You - Laura Miller

While I agree with the author's point (many of these videos are poorly made), I have seen a few that I thought were very professionally executed. One such example is the clip for Lindsay Clandfield's new series of coursebooks, Global. Scroll down to the middle of this page to see it:

Global - About the Course

Two non-ELT videos I think are worth watching:

Drive by Daniel Pink

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

I think the best clips catch the viewer's attention with strong visuals, and impart the main idea behind the book in just a couple of minutes.

Thanks to Jamie Keddie's marvelous website, I've started using video clips in my lessons, and I've been thinking about how book trailers could be used in the classroom. While Laura Miller might disagree, a judiciously chosen book trailer could provide the perfect stimulus for some fluency practice.

Some suggestions:

- If you're teaching a reading course, play a trailer for a book that students will be reading. Ask students to write a few sentences predicting the content of the book.

- Play several book trailers and ask students to discuss which one they thought was the most appealing and why.

- Play a number of awful book trailers and get students to vote for the worst one. Ask students what qualities made the trailer so bad.

- Assign students to watch book trailers on the Bookscreening website, and leave comments on one they particularly liked/hated.

- Use a book trailer as a springboard for a discussion about different ways to promote books and the effectiveness of using videos.

- Play a memory game. Give students a quiz on what they remember from watching a book trailer. Alternatively, they could work in groups to create tough questions for another group to answer.

- Use the audio portion of the book trailer for a dictation or a dictogloss.

- If your school has the technology for making videos, do a project where students must create a video introducing a book they like (it could be a book in their native language, but the video must be in English). If you have no access to a camera, you could ask students to create a script or a storyboard for a book trailer instead.

- An unplugged activity involves doing the reverse. Instead of creating a video to sell a book, ask students to create a short book to sell a TV series or movie.

One last suggestion - ask students to imagine a book trailer for their own autobiography - what would be featured in this book trailer? Get students to share their ideas in groups.