Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Are you ready to Vlog? Your students are! - Report on Vicky Chionopoulou's Session

One of the concerns of the majority of EFL teachers nowadays is how to find ways to develop 21st century skills effectively with their students. Vicky Chionopoulou demonstrated a very creative and entertaining way to do so in this year’s Tesol Macedonia Thrace convention at ACT on 26th March: Vlogs. 

                                                                                                 Photo by Emmanuel Kontovas

Vlogs are video blogs in which instead of writing you shoot a video and upload it. They have been popular for a number of years, especially with young people. What Vicky Chionopoulou did in this presentation was to show how vlogs can successfully be implemented in an EFL classroom making lessons more entertaining, interesting, motivating and creative. 

The presentation started with a definition of vlogging and a comment on the fact that, though many teachers and parents would consider this a total waste of time where students are glued to a screen neglecting their homework, it is actually a task through which they are exposed to varied authentic language and are relaxed while learning, working on a task of their own choice and interest. 

                                                                                               Photo by Emmanuel Kontovas

Mrs Chionopoulou continued by showing a video of Zoella (Zoe Sugg), who is the queen of vlogging and went on to demonstrate how we can prepare a vlog with our students. The first step is to check interest and see what our students are interested in. Once we have chosen the topic, we need to provide input which could be a text, photos, videos or something from the coursebook. The next step is a general discussion with our students where we ask them open ended questions before moving on to the next step where though funneling questions and offering them limited information on the topic we lead them to research the topic themselves. We then ask our students to write the script and we move on by editing it and giving feedback. 

The next step is to shoot the video using simple tools, such as the students’ smartphones. This is the stage where we focus on intonation, pronunciation, accuracy, fluency and presentation skills. Once the video is shot, the post – production stage follows. Students can use simple tools like Windows Movie Maker. The video can then be uploaded on YouTube or the school’s blog or a Facebook closed group or it can simply be stored on the student’s smartphone. It’s important to remember that the early stages are always supervised and written permission by the parents is required so as to be able to upload.

A great advantage of vlogs is that students continuously interact with their viewers and exchange comments with them in the target language. They are also a student-centered activity which is motivating, personal and through which students learn by doing, by making connections to the world and by eventually having a great sense of achievement.
Mrs Chionopoulou also showed two vlogs created by her teenage students. 
The first was created by a B1 level 13-year –old student entitled “Trip to London” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2ShkD-5G24) and the second one was shot by a B2 level 14-year-old student on zorbing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmdENDi4k5s). Both videos were impressive and we could all see students using English in a natural, meaningful way and really doing very well at it! It became clear at that moment that students do develop 21st century skills through vlogging since they develop critical thinking and problem solving skills (especially while filming and editing). Vlogs can not only be used as collaborative tools but also as community building tools which raise cultural awareness and understanding. 

                                                                                                Photo by Emmanuel Kontovas

Finally, the talk ended by mentioning that our students also need to be taught about cyberbullying and how to deal with it, what digital footprint is and the importance of (not) disclosing personal information. 

Concluding, it is evident that vlogging can be a strong communicative and humanistic approach where students spend a lot of time communicating and being engaged in an activity which stimulates their interest and leads to greater knowledge (obtained through personal research) and a sense of achievement!

Report by Olga Ksenitopoulou 

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