A couple of fun things because it's Friday

Here's something from Twitter which I "liked" and which gets funnier and funnier (ok, it may be hysteria 😉 !) the nearer it gets to the end of term:

That's not really one for class (unless you're in teacher training, perhaps) but here's one I'd wager would go down in the right kind of class:

I can picture a class I used to have laughing at it and then getting into a very serious discussion on the topic of "men" (they were all ladies, you understand 😉 !)

On a more serious note, the Visual Arts Circle looks like an interesting initiative and this, on visual literacy in language teaching is a long but interesting read.

Hilarious if you teach kids who like things a bit gross

Escargore from Media Design School on Vimeo.

Here's one I found because I follow @ShortoftheWeek on Twitter and posted in our official IH Barcelona Twitter feed:

Personally, I find it hilariously funny, possibly because I have the same childish sense of humour that the three kids I teach in a private class have. It's good to take to class things you just know your learners will love (and that's not something you'll normally find in a coursebook 😉 !).

What to do with something so brilliant (especially as our next class is Saturday — Halloween!)?

I'm going to fall back on an old favourite — getting them to describe what's happening, possibly getting one of them to watch, two just to listen, and keep switching those roles.

Their level isn't that great (they wouldn't pass First Certificate) but they're always more than willing to attempt to say things beyond that, if the topic interests them — and that's where I earn my living, in providing them with that language. There's no set agenda: the language input is totally reactive, no photocopies, no "exercises", no lesson plan my DELTA tutors would ever have approved of.

What makes the short successful, what makes it funny (or not!), why does it appeal to my learners (or not!), is probably also going to generate some fruitful discussion.

There's also an interesting making-of video for a follow-up and a little more about the short here.

365 things on Twitter
I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter, posting a maximum of one thing a day (no cats!) but — provided you UNfollow lots of people — you can still find interesting stuff for class there.

Another one for Halloween

A wonderful idea that your learners could film

Here's a wonderful one from which Vanesa sent me with the suggestion that it looks as if it might be interesting for class, though she hadn't yet used it or come up with a lesson plan.

It looks brilliant for class, Vanesa, if you ask me (thanks so much 😉 ) !

With this one, however, I'm not so sure we actually want the usual sort of lesson plan, with pre-watching and while-watching activities and a follow-up and so on. I wonder if we couldn't actually get our learners to film something of their own along the same lines — especially if you happen to have classes with a huge range of ages.

You'd want someone in your classes (and I'll bet you've got lots!) adept with filming on a smartphone or other device and perhaps willing to do a little editing for us; you'd want scriptwriters, too (that could be everyone in the class); and learners willing to be filmed (not necessarily all of them). You want to start exploiting — for its opportunities for language learning — all that technology your learners are carrying around with them!

Or why not do it as a project shared across different classes: start with your youngest group and then work upwards…?

They wouldn't necessarily have to upload it to YouTube: a shared Google Drive folder makes a great alternative if you — or they — don't want the rest of the world to have access to it. You could also just watch what they film directly on their phones, if privacy is going to be an issue (and it is!).

You do also have privacy options on YouTube itself.

Vanesa suggested another wonderful film from Vimeo, about an old lady struggling to send a text message, also wonderful for class!

See also | Vimeo Staff Picks, a wonderful channel to watch for more great shorts (etc.) for class — like this one or this one, for example!

Brilliant video for sparking class discussion

Hellion – (Official 2012 Sundance Film Festival) from Kat Candler on Vimeo.

Here's a wonderful short (later made into a full-length movie) for class discussion, which I spotted this morning on Twitter from Vimeo.

The best videos for class are often those with a twist to them — and this one has two! They come at around 3m 40s and then at 5m 30s and, to get the most out of this, you probably want to stop right before them and discuss what's been seen up to that point. If you then show your learners the twist, you can get a huge amount more debate (and thus language) from the same clip.

I'd break this one down roughly as follows:

  • Before watching, have the learners find out from their partners/groups what younger and/or older siblings they have and how they treated each other as kids
  • Watch to 3m40s. To avoid everyone spending all that time in silence, I like to pair my learners and encourage them to talk to each other about what they're seeing on the screen while watching
  • Stop at that point and then discuss what happens; why; what the Dad is doing right/wrong; what you/your parents would do/did
  • Play to 4m 30s and then stop there (a) to check understanding, if necessary playing that section again; and (b) to see if we still think what we've previously said about the Dad, etc.
  • Play to 5m 30s and stop and discuss again
  • Play to the end and discuss further

If you like to take great shorts to class, keep an eye out for Vimeo's Staff Picks. For an English teacher, I'd say it's worth being on Twitter only to follow Vimeo!

3 brilliant videos to share and comment on via social media

In a session last week on one of our Spanish teacher training courses, we were talking about using tools  such as Edmodo or a Google+ Community or other social media — and the question was raised on what you should do if learners start sharing things that have nothing to do with what you've been doing in class.

My answer to the question would be "Brilliant!" — for two reasons: (1) that's exactly what I want to happen with shared digital spaces used with learners — I want them to take charge of running it, rather than me doing all the work; and (2) if it leads to more interaction and use of language, fantastic! That's why we're on social media with language learners!

An example would be the video above, shared by a learner in an Edmodo group being used by a colleague, Esther, who then shared it with me.

Here's another example, one I posted on Twitter the other day, which I shared with the teenagers I have in a small private class which meets only once a week, sometimes not even that — circumstances crying out for a digital space in which to share and comment on such things:

These things can be a bit hit-and-miss: I thought I'd got zero response (!) on this one, as none of them "replied", but face-to-face it turned out that they had  all watched it and they found such a lot to say about it!

And while we're on the subject of great videos for class, here's another TED talk that looks great material if you teach adults B1 or above who spend any amount of time attending meetings:

You might try this generic activity with it, and then talk about whether or not they think the idea would work in their company and why/why not.

If you don't have a lot of learners doing that kind of job, it's still a brilliant one to share with them — both for the listening practice and for any discussion it might generate. It won't always do the latter but that's not going to stop me posting such stuff!

See also this video on how (not) to motivate people, great for discussion with adults.

A class blog would also make a perfect platform for such things.

Next question: How do you correct all the errors learners then make?