Increasing students’ oral communication through class video message boards

William Collins and Dawn Michele Ruhl, Nagasaki University


Quick guide:

  • Key words: Speaking and listening skills, video and audio messaging, feedback
  • Learner English level:Beginner and above
  • Learner maturity:High-school, university and adult
  • Preparation time:2 hours
  • Activity time: Indefinite
  • Materials:Computer room, web camera, or a headphone with microphones.


In university-level English classes, limited class time often makes it difficult to ensure that students get enough practice speaking and listening to each other in English. With inexpensive video or audio recording tools and an easily created class webpage, teachers can increase opportunities for students to speak and listen to each other in English. Using the popular YouTube website, this activity allows teachers to create a video message board where students can access teacher or student-created video, and where both teacher and students may give and receive either text or video feedback. Over time, teachers can build an archive of student speaking videos.


Step 1: Prepare a short talk on a given topic with broad appeal (e.g., a great memory, a member of my family, a time I took on a big challenge, etc.) The talk can be a solo talk or a pair conversation with an English-speaking coworker.

Step 2: Using the video capture function on a web camera, or the microphone on your headphones, record the talk/conversation and save it to your computer.

Step 3: (Optional) Use editing software (for example, Windows Movie Maker) to add English subtitles

Step 4:Create a YouTube account for your teacher videos and upload them.


Step 1:Show one of your videos to your class.

Step 2:For homework, give students a choice of topics and ask them to prepare a short talk (at least 1 minute).

Step 3:Encourage students to practice their talk until they can say it without reading. Students may be allowed to make and use a short list of keywords.

Step 4:In the computer room, students record their talks, either on web cameras, on their cell phones, or using the microphone on their headphones. After recording, students save the video/audio file to their computers.

Step 4: (for audio)If no web cameras are available, students may choose a set of pictures, either their own photos or pictures from the Internet that they would like to go with their story. Using editing software, they can open their audio recording picture files and create a timeline of photos to accompany their audio talk/story.

Step 5:The teacher creates a YouTube account for student videos. There can be one account for all classes, or separate accounts for each class. The teacher tells students the user ID and password for the account.

Step 6:Students upload their videos to the class video page.

Extension activities

  1. Students can view the teacher’s videos. Viewing while reading the subtitles gives the students some support and allows them to connect in real time listening, reading, and visual aspects of communication like the teacher’s gestures or facial expressions.
  2. Students leave feedback for the teacher using “active listening strategies.” These can include (a) general comments like, “Skiing sounds really fun”; (b) a follow-up question; (c) a similar experience of the student; or (d) speculative comments such as “I bet that was…/I guess you…”
  3. Students can watch each other’s videos and either leave text feedback or send a video response to their partner.
  4. Students can view their videos and add English subtitles using editing software.
  5. The teacher can listen to student videos and record video comments on students’ talk, as well as video feedback on pronunciation or word-choice errors.


To ensure that only the teacher and classmates may view their videos, students can click “edit video” on their video and, under “broadcasting and sharing” options, click “private”.


To help students become more comfortable speaking English, teachers need to find ways students can have fun using their voices to communicate with each other. With video and audio messaging, students can talk and listen to each other and the teacher in English.

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