- Key Words: Technology-assisted Language Learning, Speaking, Group Work
- Learner English Level: Intermediate
- Learner Maturity Level: Jr. High School and above
- Preparation Time: Varies
- Activity Time: 15-30 minutes
Video tapes are utilized in English classes in various ways, whether commercially made or custom-made by a teacher. They provide such benefits as giving visual information to help the students' understanding, cultural aspects of language learning set within complementary situations, some paralinguistic features which add meanings to what is said, as well as examples of varieties of English spoken in a natural way.
This video presentation project suggests an additional use of video tapes which gives the students an opportunity to create their own films. It aims to help the students observe their own utterances and self-monitor their actual communicative abilities in English by introducing one aspect of their campus on a video which is presented in class. Having to utilize spontaneous English skills and strategies for authentic communication outside the class, and comparing their language use to that of others helps the students identify their levels of communicative competence. It also assists them to become independently aware of the gap between their current proficiency and their personal standard of competence.
1. In the first class session, the students are randomly numbered off and divided into groups of four or five. Handouts describe the project and explain what is expected of students.
2. In the second session, each group announces their topic--the particular spot on campus that they will introduce on the video; if the topics overlap, the problem can be solved by negotiation by dividing the particular topic into parts or reorienting one group toward a new topic.
3. Each group of students reserves a video camera two weeks before, and checks it out for filming one week before the day of the presentation.
4. Each group prepares a blank video tape and confirms that the battery is fully charged. Depending on the group topic, the students may have to obtain permission from the university.
5. The group makes an outline of their report, discusses the basic script, practices it, and records the introduction to the location on the video. They are also encouraged to talk spontaneously to the camera, and if possible, interview people on campus in English. The only condition is that they should include a map and give directions of how to get to the destination from the main gate of the university. The film should be no longer than about eight minutes as this also factors into the descriptive presentation procedure of the video and the amount of class time that will be needed.
6. On the day of the presentation, one group shows their video report. Since the main focus of this project is not to create perfectly edited tapes, they are allowed to fast forward the unnecessary parts in order to avoid redundancy. In addition to showing the video film in class, the presenting group prepares a quiz with five questions to check the audience's comprehension. The quiz encourages the presenting group to create a comprehensible report for the peer audience and to objectively review their product. It also helps maintain the audience's attention to the report. The quiz papers are graded by the group members, and they report the scores to the teacher the following week.
7. The group submits a written report on the presentation day, outlining the process of their group work. They are also expected to review the difficulties they faced, how they overcame the problems as a group, and what they learned though the process. The script should be attached to their written report.
On the handout, the students are clearly informed of the standards for success. The video report is assessed by both the teacher and their peers. An assessment sheet is distributed to the audience after watching the video report. The sheet has points on a scale from 1 to 5, and asks about such variables as preparation and organization, the quality of information, the effectiveness of the map, length, sound quality, and the members' cooperation. The teacher evaluates the student-made quiz, checking the number of questions, coherence in relation to the content of the film, and grammar. The class average of the quiz given by the presenting group is also added as a part of the group grade. The written report is evaluated by the teacher on whether they objectively reviewed the process and whether they illustrated appropriate details to introduce the topic. In addition such systematic elements as diction, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are evaluated. The students' and teacher's assessment of the video, points awarded for the quiz, and the written report are totaled up and given as the group grade, so all of the group members receive the same grade.
Results and Suggestions
The project provided the students with opportunities to observe their current speaking ability in English. According to the results of a survey which was carried out at the end of the semester, students faced difficulties and disappointment, yet they enjoyed working together to create the video film and watching their own and other groups' presentations. Some of them found that they were nervous in front of the camera and spoke "unbearably poor English," while others realized that they could not speak as well as they had expected. Many students were disappointed with their ability in communicating orally in English. In addition, the students faced difficulties in managing their time and handling the video camera. Nevertheless, they interpreted this opportunity in a positive way. They commented that they realized the necessity of practicing communicative skills as opposed to displaying grammatical knowledge which had been obtained through the preparation the students had undergone for entrance examinations. Also many of the students commented that this project was useful and interesting, and suggested that it should be incorporated in the class next year.
The initial goal of this project was to help the students self-monitor their utterances and to raise their awareness of their learning and using English. However, it can be implemented for learner training purposes, such as enhancing cooperative learning skills and guiding learners to consciously utilize learning strategies. The difficulties the students underwent in managing time to work collaboratively and handling the video camera indicate that they need training in learning. For instance, many students found it difficult to negotiate for the working time among the group members outside the class. This fact implies that this project is an opportunity for them to learn how to reach a consensus toward a shared goal, to analyze the steps to take, and to split responsibilities in order to efficiently complete the assignment as a group. Likewise, the students often complained about batteries with a low charge, despite the fact that they had been clearly cautioned on the handout that they should fully charge the battery by themselves before going out to do the recording. In terms of feedback, it does allow the teacher to analyze the comments and use their complaints to help them improve the planning process for a smoother working environment. The students will learn that well-organized, careful preparation and effective utilization of resources lead to a more satisfactory result. Depending on the teacher's focus, this project can be utilized for various purposes.