Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Getting Involved

Teaching English involves many things. Vocabulary, grammar, listening, context, conversation and many other bits and pieces that make up a language. But it can also be more specific, when required. There’s no point teaching a businessman or woman the ins and outs of zoology when they deal with accountancy on a daily basis. Unless the student has such an interest!

Most students appreciate involving their industry in classes, and there are numerous ways to do this. Just chatting about what they do exactly. Bringing in audio of video that is related. I tried a different approach recently. The idea started out as a simple ‘factory tour’ where they would show me around their plastics factory.

But the idea evolved. Firstly into a factory tour which I would video, so that we could go back into the classroom and discuss their processes, look up and bits of vocab that didn’t come straight to mind, and generally analyse the workings of the factory floor. Later, we decided to produce a promotional video as a learning project.

It’s fun to do, involves everyone, is a great way to bring their industry into the classroom and of course, there’s a final product to show for all the effort. It took a fair few classes to produce. Firstly a discussion where we decided what we wanted to film and talk about. Then script writing, for both spoken and text content. Then two takes to create the video.

The film might not earn anyone any Oscars for acting, nor me any awards for videography. But I’ve looked at YouTube videos where people have done something similar, and this is much better than any I’ve seen. So I’m happy with the end result. I hope the gang at the factory are as well.

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It’s an old chestnut that pops up repeatedly. Which is the better version of English, the pure version of English, the genuine version of English – American English, or British English. I could write a book on the subject. But I have just a blog and only limited time and patience to give my opinions on the subject. There are differences, but essentially the variations are too few and too slight to make a difference. Which is my first response to any student learning the language with me. I suspect many of them want me to say British English, which through the British Council and others, seems to be pushed harder that its cousin from across the pond. This is largely because of a certain amount of resentment/antipathy and general ill feeling towards the nation across their northern border. Whereas there is some sort of romantic association with the UK.

American English has introduced many words to the language, although a lot of vocab that most people assume is of US origin is in fact British English – words that went with the waves of emigrants across the Atlantic and continue to be used there, whilst they have been replaced back in Blighty. Faucet is a good example. American English has gotten rid of some spelling anomolies that Brits persist with though. No ‘u’ in color, humor or favor.

There is no answer to the question regards purity though. Certainly in my opinion, although some have recently suggested Indian English  has greatest claim to the notion. As for the differences. The greatest difference lies not in spelling, grammar or the core vocabulary, but in slang. As demonstrated by Hugh Laurie and his interviewer in the YouTube clip below.

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Magic Whiteboard

I often use videos in classes, just to get students listening to other voices than my own. Picking a suitable video can sometimes be tricky, but Dragons Den is usually a sure fire hit. Entertaining, a mix of accents and dialects and vocabulary that fits in with the business world. Some of the entrepreneurs ideas are a bit sketchy, or sometimes downright dumb, but every now and then one comes along which catches the eye.

The pitch below comes from a couple selling Magic Whiteboards. It’s a brilliant idea! I have so many classes where there is no whiteboard available, and while I can survive without one, and use a pen and paper instead, it would make life a bit easier sometimes to have one at my side. I would love to buy the product, but at the moment it’s hard to justify the cost of ordering and shipping a roll of it to Mexico.

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