I’m currently really tied up with checking exams, so I’m going to make the introduction to this blog post really brief. I’m sure you have enough on your plate, too. June is usually a hectic month for almost everybody, isn’t it?
So, how do you keep up with the latest news? Or maybe, are you one of those who, sick and tired of reading bad news, have decided to completely isolate yourself from the world? I wouldn’t blame you!
If you are one of those, I kindly suggest you make an exception for the sake of learning and improving your English. You won’t regret it! Reading is one of the best ways of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar without studying.If you read and listen to one article every day, or two if you feel overzealous, your reading and listening skills will improve very quickly. Trust me on this!
This is my selection of the best audio/video news and current affairs websites to learn English.
I have looked at the following features in all the websites:
If the news is written in levels
If the same news is written/read at different levels
If it is audio news or video news
If the transcript is provided
If the site provides a ready-to-use lesson plan for the news
Any other relevant additional content
The image below is interactive. Click on the icon and read what each website has to offer.
How else can I use these sites in the classroom?
• Choose one news website from above and ask students, as homework, to read a piece of news they find interesting. Ask them to read the news several times until they feel confident they can retell it. In the next class, ask students to work in threes and share their news.
• The news. Same procedure as above but this time, at home, students will need to rewrite the piece of news in their own words. In class, and again working in threes, students will be asked to assume the role of newsreaders and present the news to the rest of the class.
The interactive image has been created with Genial.ly,a free online tool for creating visual interactive content.
Today I want to share with you an amazing screen recording tool Screencast-o-matic, which has a lot of potential to teach and learn English.
Hey! Wait! I know, you are not tech-savvy. You don’t need to be. Trust me. When you finish reading this post, I’m sure you will be willing to give it a go . The reasons?
It’s super easy to use! Do you know how to press a button? Then, you know how to use this tool.
You don’t even need to register.
It has a lot of potential to teach/learn English.
What is Screen-o-matic?
Screencast-o-matic is a free (you don’t even need to register) easy-to-use screen recording. You can use your webcam or both. Screen-o-matic will capture everything on your screen and then, if you wish, share it.
How can I use it in the classroom?
As a teacher
1. For correcting your students’ written assignments. We all have been in this situation: a student is ill or away on a business trip, but he still needs to have some feedback on his written assignment. With this tool, it’s very easy to offer visual constructive feedback by giving audio and visual cues.
Have your students send you their essays by email. Record yourself correcting and explaining their mistakes. Then, send them the video. Thanks to Russell Stannard for this awesome idea. Here’s an example uploaded to screen-o-matic. Sorry, I don’t sound very energetic. It was very late and I was dead tired!
2. For assessing students’ speaking skill, especially when describing pictures or talking about slides. Ask them to choose one or several pictures and ask them to record themselves. Here’s an example of one of my students uploaded to youtube. Thank you Elsa! 🙂
3. For a variety of speaking activities:
To explain a recipe
To talk about your favourite group, hobby, family…etc
To describe, for example, traditional games, unusual customs…etc.
For first-day presentations
For book/film reviews
The only limit is your imagination.
4. For recorded contests:
It’s St Valentine’s day, ask them to invent a romantic story
It’s Halloween, time for a horror story!
Give them a set of pictures and ask them to create a story
Give them some words and expressions and ask them to create a story
For recorded minisagas (maximum of 50 words)
5. For asessing students’ reading fluency and pronunciation. Ask students to read a given text online and ask them to send their recording.
6. For flipping your classroom. Not every student learns in the same way so it would be a good idea to record some of the most difficult grammar points for weak students to revise at home.
7. Doing exams at home. You can even make things easier for students who, for personal reasons, cannot sit exams in the classroom. Send them the test and ask them to record themselves answering the questions either in written or oral form. It might be a good idea to give them a time limit to send back the video with the answers. You can ask them to use the webcam, too (for obvious reasons).
8. To make tutorial videos to explain a task they need to do online or how an online tool works, for example this one. The yellow pointer makes it easy for students to follow your explanations. Example here
9. Help your substitute teacher. You can even make a video to help your substitute teacher if you’re going to miss class.
As a student
10. Using your webcam, for collaborative projects.
11. As an alternative to a Power Point presentation individually or in groups.
12. To do any oral assignment with one or several slides.
13. To state your opinion on any given topic.
14. To record yourself when practising for oral tests.
Why do I like it?
You don’t have to register or give your email address unless you want to upload it to their server.
You can record up to 15 minutes
You can create different folders for your different classes. If you create an account and share the email address and password with your students they can upload their own assignments and have everything neatly organised in folders.
You can choose to record only your computer screen, you can use your webcam or both
You can resize your recording window.
You can choose the microphone you want to use and adjust the volume. For laptops you can use the built-in microphone.
Click the “Start Recording” button and the recording button will be launched.
Click the red button Rec and everything inside the frame will be recorded.
You can pause or restart or click Done when you finish.
Now, a new window will open offering you the possibilities of downloading your video, or uploading it to youtube or to Screen-o-matic.com (to use this last option you will need to register). Uploading to Screen-o-matic.com is free and it has some advantages:
It gives you a unique url or an embed code to use on your website or blog
You can create different channels and upload your recordings in an organised way. This is particularly interesting if you want to create a channel for your students to upload their recordings.
There is an online version, which works pretty well with Windows but not so well with Mac, and a downloadable version which works with both PC and Mac.There is a free and a pro version, but I should say that the free version works just fine.