Challenging the ESP Classes with Video

Written by: Blanka Klimova, University of Hradec Kralove,
Faculty of Informatics and Management Nowadays there are hundreds of ESP materials, particularly textbooks, suitable for teaching. However, an experienced and motivated teacher tries to find his/her golden mean in using the textbook and enrich his/her classes with other materials to react, motivate and satisfy his/her students´ immediate learning needs. One of such materials are video programmes which seem to be attractive for both experienced and inexperienced students not only from the relaxing point of view, especially in the late afternoon, but also from the learning point of view. But how to efficiently exploit video in the ESP classrooms? What kind of activities to use? These are some of the questions which are going to be answered in this article.
It is true that in any language class the most efficient and beneficial type of video is an authentic video which provides students with an authentic model of speech and through different kinds of activities develop particular skills and language structures. Some of the examples are given below.
1 TV and radio news

Language activities using TV and radio news

Skills Language Activities
Listening for gist Vocabulary: political, Pair/groupwork
Detailed listening economic, geographic, etc. Information transfer
Summarizing Tense: past, present perfect Compar. of different reports
Reporting Forecasting Preparing own report (oral/written)
Discussion skills Fact v. opinion
Conversation skills Cause and effect

2 Documentaries

Language activities using documentaries

Skills Language Activities
Listening for information Specific vocabulary Search for answers to specific questions
Describing Tenses: past, present perfect Taking notes
Explaining Forecasting Information transfer
Summarizing Comparing Completing chart of arguments for/against
Interviewing Cause and effect Describing with sound down
Discussion skills Questioning Role play: interviews, meetings, debates
Writing reports Giving opinions

3 Company videos
These are mainly useful for people working in the company which has produced the video. They could be useful for customers of the company. Some company videos provide investment information, and this could be of interest to learners working in the fields of finance or banking.
4 Public information videos
These are produced by, for example, the London Stock Exchange, the British Department of Trade and Industry, and the Tourist Boards of some regions.
Moreover, video programmes not only support developing of all 4 language skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) but also enforce diverse ways of thinking, often colourful, such are, for example, mind maps. They can be used in the following stages:

  1. brainstorming as a pre-reading activity,
  2. note taking as a while viewing activity,
  3. final output poster as a follow up activity.

Besides the above stated exploitation of video programmes and and the different ways of improving language learning, one can use video for recording his/her students performance and evaluation when teaching presentations (Klimova:1997) or meeting skills.
In conclusion one can say that using video and especially authentic video in the ESP classes with a particular learning aim in mind is a stimulus creating motivation and providing authentic material for the teachers to enhance his/her teaching and produce a challenging lesson in which students will efficiently, enjoyably and in a relaxing way learn a foreign language.
Allan, M. 1985. Teaching English with Video. Harrow: Longman.
Ellis, M. – Johnson, Ch. 1994. Teaching Business English. Oxford: OUP.
Klimova, B. 1997. Presentations – Methods of Assessments in Modular English Teaching at the Faculty of Management and Information Technology in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. ATECR Newsletter, Vol.8, No.3, pp.32-36.
Mironovova, E. 1996. Authentic Video and Self-Developed Exercises in the Classroom. In: Esp: Working Together. Bratislava: British Council.
Tomalin, B. 1990. Video, TV and Radio in the English Class. USA: Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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