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ICT can both improve and enhance learning and teaching in an ESOL class and technology is not only a tool for use in the classroom, but is also a resource for accessing information that further enables learning to take place. In this commentary I will provide an evaluative overview on the use and effectiveness of using video clips from ‘YouTube' the video-sharing website, as a teaching speaking and listening material to provide my learners with an opportunity to practise job interviews in English using discussion and role play. Three of the skills covered by learners are, listen to and take part in a job interview; express views and opinions about work and talk about skills and experience, all covered in the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum.
The Level 1 ESOL students are mostly migrant workers from Europe, some only want to be here a short while with a view to returning back home and others are here to work and settle and thus need to learn English for work and social needs. The remaining students arrived from Southern Asia, to join partners and spouses, have been settled for varying lengths of time in the UK and may have been prevented from accessing ESOL classes because of family responsibilities and a need to participate in the local community. I also have one asylum seeker. Overall the class is made up of a variety of nationalities and ages.
As a group they have expressed that they want more practice in listening and speaking English in ‘authentic' situations to prepare for the ‘real' world, to be familiar with the unwritten rules followed in the workplace and to know the ‘register' in use. Incorrect communication at work may cause them to be ignored or send the wrong message. Most of the learners have a reasonable to good level of vocabulary in writing and reading but are unable to transfer them to spoken interactions. They have difficulties are with using word and sentence stress, rhythm and intonation patterns.
By improving their fluency language skills, the learners will gain a greater understanding of their surroundings and the society and culture in which they live. This will allow them to develop and to be able to assess critically how best to contribute to their society and surroundings. Employability is the context that forms the basis of the learning content in this session. To access information and services in the UK, learners need to acquire effective language skills, to secure employment. Learners already in employment can improve their language skills to progress in their chosen profession, and in using English to help with everyday life.
Familiar content is easier for learners to understand, rather than, content with vocabulary that is unfamiliar or for which the learner has insufficient background knowledge of.
The ‘YouTube', Job Interview clips activity was introduced to learners to provide them with an opportunity to experience the target language presented in a less structured way; with them observing; then participating in an active learning experience, using several of their cognitive skills. Also to have them notice the features of an interview, to notice language use, body language, facial expressions, listen to the register and grammar. Learners were to listen for the rise and fall of intonation, stress and pitch of voice and make a critique at the end, saying what was good or bad in the interview and then to prepare to take part in a role play interview in front of each other. Watching authentic YouTube clips help students better understand the structure and the elements of a job interview and they can prepare, with confidence, their own. Stempleski (1987) affirms, “a rich and exciting source of video software for EFL/ESL classes is authentic material.”
This visual activity promotes listening and speakingin a non threatening whole group, small group and pair interaction. It also provides a chance to mimicwhich is a transferable skill from learners FLA. Students receive new input, evaluate that with L1 and then experiment their new vocabulary through subsequent interaction and role-play, this is in line with Krashen's ‘IIO' hypothesis.
The theme of Jobs was introduced in previous sessions to assist activating schemata on jobs, job adverts, CV's and personal skills. Key vocabulary was taught, relating to the genre and language that learners may encounter in the video clips and students contributed their own experiences about the subject. This was to provide motivation, a context and a starting point from which they could understand new information introduced in the following lessons. Common interview questions, taken from ‘Bogglesworldesl' website, were adapted to the level of the learners.
The ‘scaffolding' was continued via the Smartboard in visual form, showing video clips to support build up to the full interview. One clips was fast forwarded to skip vocabulary that I felt was not needed for the group. Using scaffolding techniques can be important and the aim is that learners will, at the end, demonstrate comprehension independently. Scaffolded instructions are temporary and adjustable support to help develop new skills and abilities and when removed demonstrates learning has taken place.
McKenzie (1999) stated that clear direction, purpose and expectation are the important features of successful scaffolding, resulting in better student direction; less uncertainty, disappointment and increase in efficiency. Scaffolding instruction is also intrinsic in Vygotsky's (1978) idea of the Zone of Proximal Development.
The main aim is to support learners to have communicative competence and the ability for language learners to use socially, contextually and culturally appropriate language in communicative contexts.
There are many videos on YouTube that could potentially be used in an ESOL class. Televisions program clips, experts discussing a specific topic, or just some home movie clips, uploaded by individuals, a place you are teaching about or may be thinking about visiting are readily available. The site comprises of user-uploaded content and can mean that a lot of it is unreliable, biased or inappropriate for cultural and classroom use. I spent hours online searching for suitable videos for this group and found a funny clip to lighten the mood at the end of the session. Some clips feature ESOL students in mock interviews and some with native speakers in ‘real-life' situations that give the learners a realistic ‘foreign language' experience.