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About

The last few years, I've been very focused on the role and possibility of video in the classroom. Thus, my recent work developing EnglishCentral and my focus on the potential of a "Flipped Classroom".

 

I had an interesting skype discussion with Dan Sorianno (@danhummsoriano ) at the BC in Mexico City. He's thinking of adopting a Flipped Classroom model as an experiment. During our discussion I returned to a term I've used over the years, "Extensive Watching". I'd like to outline this important concept for language learning here and get your own feedback, opinion, thoughts.

 

I'm a big fan of extensive reading. It works. If done properly, it allows students to acquire a lot of fluency quickly (so long as equal attention is paid to speaking). However, the rub these days is that many students don't want to nor like reading. It's just a fact that I've run across time and time again in the classroom. I think it has to do with

a) Visuality being an ever present force and medium now - through the internet, TV, film etc...

b) Communication. Youth are so connected, never alone and a book entails the place and discipline to be alone with self. Today's youth want shared experience, a social experience. A book is in their head, the images in their head - something is never shared. A film / video has an objective visual reference and is more shared/social.

 

As I've outlined before, the Gutenburg Galaxy is waining. The role of text is taking a back up role to the cool medium that is the visual realm. This entails a change on the part of teachers. We should now update Day and Bamford's classic and call it "Extensive Watching". I took down the book from my self and revisited it. It can simply be re-written for this new media focus. 

 

Students "watch" at their own level and through this massive watching of video with language in context, can, do, will achieve rapid language acquisition. That's where EnglishCentral is coming from but it could be any source of video that is at the appropriate level for the student and contains motivating, interesting content.

 

I looked at pages 7-8 of the book, "The Characteristics of Extensive Reading". I hereby end and hand the torch to Extensive Watching by rewriting this to outline the characteristics of extensive watching (and in a future post, I'll outline the differences, however obvious, with the "extensive listening" approach).

 

 

The Characteristics of Extensive Watching


1. Students WATCH as much as possible. (preferably outside of the classroom - following the flipped model of the language classroom)

 

2. A variety of videos/film is available in a variety of genres and topics so as to encourage watching for different reasons and in different ways.

 

3. Students select what they want to watch and have the freedom to stop watching when the video fails to interest them.

 

4. The purposes of watching are related to pleasure, information and general understanding. The purposes are determined by the nature of the videos and the interests of the students.

 

5. Watching is its own reward. There are few exercises after watching and only for quickly reinforcing the material.

 

6. The videos are well within the linguistic competence (level) of the student. Video gives context and allows for a "wider" leveling. Dictionaries are used after the viewing and rarely during the watching of the video.

 

7. Watching is both shared and individual. Videos if possible, to be discussed and used as scaffolding material into purposeful communication and speaking practice.

 

8. Watching speed is at the natural rate of the media's speakers. Whole watching is the recommended practice rather than stopping and reviewing video.

 

9. Teacher's orient students to the goals of the program (communicate the rationale), explain the methodology (how to) and track what students watch, and guide students to get the most out of the program.

 

10. The teacher is a role model and watcher. They participate and watch what students watch. The extensive watching classroom is a place of equality and a decreased power dynamic between teacher and learner.

Downloads: 438

Comment by Gregory Quinlivan on September 26, 2011 at 5:03am

Hello, David. I think the idea of watching videos, or for that matter TV programs and movies, in English is a great way to maintain student interest and motivation in acquiring English.

My concerns are that (a) there seems to be no way of determining if any learning is taking place, (b) students watch passively or without concentrating on the language, (c) there is no language production by the students. The other question is how can teachers watch what students watch if it's not in the classroom? Finally, how do students know (until it's too late) what's at their level of linguistic competence? Few sites specify this.

In my own teaching in class when I've used video it has been short segments, usually with some type of preparation before watching, some comprehension activities after, and with some particular goals in mind.

However, as you say, it is a way of engaging students beyond the classroom, which is good.

What I'd like to see is some link between what is watched and some student activities, such as giving feedback, completing a video review (like a book review), some online oral discussion (for speaking practice), etc, or, at the least, some recording of what videos have been watched (like a reading log).

Finally, I suppose it will depend on the age of the students as well, since my concerns focus are elementary school ones.

Greg.


Supporter
Comment by ddeubel on September 26, 2011 at 11:21am

Great points and I think they summarize the major "weaknesses" or at least how a programme of "extensive watching" might not accomplish as much as it preports. 

 

I see the role of a teacher/administrator being able to overcome these to some extent (not completely).  It is all how you do it, not just the "what you do".   A few things mentioned, like knowing when the students know - are always a challenge for a teacher and will require different interventions. 

 

I've always cautioned teachers to break video up into discrete chunks. Put in activities between that practice the content. However, I think I am changing. Mostly because students are much more used to video and their cognitive resources don't see so taxed by it.  I wonder when people first started reading, if it was hard to do for extended periods? And we've gradually adapted through decades? 

 

But overall I agree totally - the teacher still needs to intervene and provide students with authentic means to communicate.  We need to make the input into uptake.  EnglishCentral gets students speaking and that helps but it also still isn't communication - we still need that as the most important focus be it speaking or writing. 

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