Thursday 17 March 2011

Get your Students Listening and Interacting with Native Speakers

Listening in the EFL / ESL classroom can be a pretty dull business. Usually it consists of students all listening to the same thing at the same time and doing the same tasks. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you feel the urge to get away from the course book and get your students listening to and interacting with some real native speakers from the safety of their computer then why not check out some of the people on ?

I've already written about how you can set up your own Vyou Q&A video booth, but it's also well worth looking round some of the people who are already there and seeing if there are any your students would be interested in, as a lot of the people there a quite young and some are quite interesting and quirky and Vyou offers your students the opportunity not only to listen to them and hear a range of accents, but also to ask them questions, though the answers might take a while to come.

It's very simple to use. You just go to : and there you can either search through some of the featured people or you can click on channels at the top and look through the more topic related people.

Each person has their own video channel and you can either type in questions below the video or you can click on the questions on the right of the video to listen to the answers to questions that have already been asked.

Here are a few people your students might find interesting.

This one is a British guy called Jonny and he claims he will write a song about any subject that readers suggest. There a quite a few there already:
This one is Loren Rochelle for North America. She works in 'Social Video seeding' (Yes that seems to a job these days). She answers questions about a wide range of things from the personal to the trivial:

It's also worth checking out the channels.

If you and your students are more interested in literature then there is an ask the author channel where writers answer questions about literature and their books:
If your students are more interested in music, EMI also has a channel where you can submit questions to some of their recording artists:

So how can you exploit this with EFL / ESL students?

  • Show students some of the people and get them to think of questions they would like to ask. Then get them to submit the questions (try to get them to submit questions to a few different people) then in the next lesson they can see if they have any answers and share the information they got from the answers (Also good for lessons on reported speech).
  • Ask students to choose one person each and give them 5 - 10 minutes to discover as much information as possible about that person. They can then discuss and share the information in class.
  • Collect some of the questions that have been asked and get students to think of possible answers, then watch and compare to their own answers and see how much they have in common with each person. Then get students to find the person they are most like.
  • Get students to watch two different people and then compare and contrast their character and interests.
  • Get students to think of one or two good questions and submit them to a range of people. Then in the next lesson students can check the answers and decide who they think gave the best answer.
What I like about this Vyou
  • These are real people that students can interact with.
  • The use of the looped introduction videos gives a real sense of presence and this can be much more motivating and engaging for students.
  • There's a real wealth of listening materials with various accents on a range of topics.
  • The answers are quite short so they aren't too demanding on students concentration despite being 'ungraded' and authentic.
  • Students can listen multiple times.
  • I've looked at quite a few channels and there doesn't seem to be anything inappropriate or offensive.
What I'm not so sure about
  • Some of the channels allow for anonymous submission of questions, so students might be tempted to ask something inappropriate (though they are unlikely to get an answer.)
  • It is possible that your students might stumble across something they might find offensive or some bad language, but I haven't found anything like this yet.

Well I hope you try and that your students find it engaging, entertaining and useful.

Related links:

Nik Peachey


Unknown said...

Good article but give (Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab) a look. It has interactive video and listening quizzes. I currently use this in my class. I will look carefully at your suggestion.

Kristina Filipovic said...

Great activity! Can't wait to try it out with my students!

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