Today I would like to explore a very useful collection of videos recently started by Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley, authors of the celebrated textbook series Outcomes. These videos are housed in their Youtube Channel Lexical Lab and the idea behind these videos is to explore common English expressions through life situations where you might expect to hear or use them. This series is called One-minute English and their running time is… one minute, give or take a few seconds.
I find them just the ticket for the nature of the teaching ideas and activities that I share on this site, as you can bring these videos into your classroom and they do not require any preparation whatsoever prior to exploiting them with your students. These two generic questions will always work for any video in the series: 1. What does the expression mean? 2. What example/s does he show to illustrate the meaning? Take a look at “I kid you not”.
I use these videos regularly for three primary reasons:
- Clarity and brevity, which means ideal listening practice. One can also delve into aspects of connected speech and phonology if our aim is not solely limited to check understanding.
- Useful expressions that are clearly presented with life stories, thus bringing an added element of memorability.
- To change the pace of a lesson and keep it interesting for the students.
So this is what I do:
- Does anyone know what “I kid you not” means? You may have also heard “I’m not kidding”, “Not kidding”, “Are you kidding me?”. If you do, great. If not, what do we learn about it from the video? What two examples are used to explain the meaning?
- Play the video.
- Students in pairs check answers.
- In plenary mode, check understanding. Write a few key words on the board. Depending on the expression in the video, you may think of interesting conversation questions. For this video in particular, I asked the students to work in pairs again. Student A concocts a highly implausible story. Student B reacts to it. Student A says: “I kid you not”. Then change roles.
- Play the video again.
Of course, things can get more sophisticated and more teaching elements can be brought into the picture. For instance, you can ask your students to pick an interesting word or expression they learned on the day and record their own videos and share them on a Padlet (if you are wondering what Padlet is, you can check out different activities you can do with it in my companion site for my book From Whiteboards to Web 2.0). You can revise and recycle the videos by means of creating conversation questions with the focal expressions or with fill in gaps worksheets. You can ask the students to write a transcript by using the pause and rewind buttons and see what they mostly struggle with. Is it the vocabulary, the speed, the accent, the way words bump into each other, etc? But all these things would deviate from the nature of this site: zero or minimal preparation. Also, all these things would take time from other elements of your lesson.