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Video Blogging in EFL/ESL Classrooms: …

Video Blogging in EFL/ESL Classrooms:
Challenges, Options and Opportunities

Ke Xu


Borough of Manhattan Community College
City University of New York




I. Challenges to Video blogging in EFL/ESL classrooms


• Students’ lack of vocabulary and linguistic competence in the actual use of the target language prevents them from freely expressing themselves orally in another language;

• Students’ inability to respond to their peer’s blogs due to their lack of language competence, background knowledge or cultural difference;

• Students’ lack of sustained interest in Vblogging in another language and the temptation to fall back on their first language is too great;

• Teachers’ lack of knowledge about where they can make best use of video blogging in their teaching and how to integrate video blogging into their curriculum;

• Lack of sustained support from tech experts, or a good coordination between the teaching and tech support forces

• Lack of funding resources for equipments



II. In What Ways Can Video Blogging Benefit EFL/ESL Teaching?

EFL/ESLTeachers may find many ways in which a Vblog can be beneficial to their teaching. They don’t have to be technically savvy — a basic consumer camcorder, or even a digital camera with video recording function and an SDHC memory card, and a computer with free editing software and an internet connection are all you need. By assigning recording and editing duties to students, you’ll also be teaching them technical skills and reducing your own work burden for the Vblog!

Vblogs can be used to

• Present new learning materials
• Illustrate, clarify or explain concepts, ideas and points of views
• Reinforce and consolidate learning by helping students review the content they have learnt before
• Conduct peer editing in pairs or group activities (by asking students to comment on each other’s video clips)
• Provide visual prompts for students’ group/class discussion
• Assess students’ listening comprehension, conversation skills, pronunciation, stress, and intonation
• Increase students’ awareness of pronunciation, intonation, stress, etc.
• Form student online learning community so that they can share their experience and help each other
• Sharpen students’ observation and critical thinking skills
• Promote collaborate learning by asking students to create and fulfill group projects
• Enable teachers to better understand their students
• Motivate students to open up their month and promote their oral presentation skills and conversation skills
• Motivate or enlist students’ interest in learning the target language and related culture
• Document and track teachers’ work so that they could reflect on their own work later
• Share ideas and thoughts with fellow teachers and researchers


III. Teachers’ Options in Successfully Meeting the Challenges

To successfully meet the challenges listed above, here are a few possible options for teachers’ consideration:

• Screen carefully the vocabulary and grammatical items to be used in the video clips and make sure the difficulty level of the clip does not exceeds students’ comprehension ability; Identifying words and phrases in the video clip students may not understand due to their low proficiency or lack of knowledge of the culture related to the target language, and scaffolding your teaching by supplying these words and phrases before hand in supplementary readings or exercises;

• Teach your students how to respect other people’s work and make positive comments on their fellow students’ blogs by taking them to visit some best-known educational blog sites or student blog sites, by modeling to your students how to make a comment step by step. If you are teaching beginning level students, you need to teach them the specific words and phrases they may need in commenting on others’ blogs;

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  • 1. Video Blogging in EFL/ESL Classrooms: Challenges, Options and Opportunities Ke Xu Borough of Manhattan Community College City University of New York
  • 2. I. Challenges to Video Blogging in EFL/ESL Classrooms
    • Students’ lack of vocabulary and linguistic competence in the actual use of the target language prevents them from freely expressing themselves orally in another language;
    • Students’ inability to respond to their peers’ blog due to their lack of language competence, background knowledge or cultural difference;
  • 3.
    • Students’ lack of sustained interest in video blogging in another language. The temptation to fall back on their first language is too great;
    • Teachers’ lack of knowledge about where they can make best use of video blogging in their teaching and how to integrate video blogging into their curriculum;
  • 4.
    • Lack of sustained support from tech experts, or good coordination between the teaching and tech support forces
    • Lack of funding resources for equipments including video cameras, editing software, high speed Internet connections, etc.
  • 5. II. In What Ways Can Video Blogging Benefit EFL/ESL Teaching?
    • Vblogs can be used to
    • Present new learning materials
    • Illustrate, clarify or explain concepts, ideas and points of views
    • Reinforce and consolidate learning by helping students review the content they have learnt before
  • 6.
    • Conduct peer editing in pairs or group activities (by asking students to comment on each other’s video clips)
    • Provide visual prompts for students’ group/class discussion
    • Assess students’ listening comprehension, conversation skills, pronunciation, stress, and intonation
    • Increase students’ awareness of pronunciation, intonation, stress, etc.
  • 7.
    • Form student online learning community so that they can share their experience and help each other
    • Sharpen students’ observation and critical thinking skills
    • Promote collaborate learning by asking students to create and fulfill group projects
    • Enable teachers to better understand their students
  • 8.
    • Motivate students to open up their month and promote their oral presentation skills and conversation skills
    • Motivate or enlist students’ interest in learning the target language and related culture
    • Document and track teachers’ work so that they could reflect on their own work later
    • Share ideas and thoughts with fellow teachers and researchers
  • 9. III. Teachers’ Options in Successfully Meeting the Challenges
    • To successfully meet the challenges listed above, here are a few possible options for teachers’ consideration:
    • Screen carefully the vocabulary and grammatical items to be used in the video clips and make sure the difficulty level of the clip does not exceeds students’ comprehension ability;
  • 10.
    • Identify words and phrases in the video clip students may not understand due to their low proficiency or lack of knowledge of the culture related to the target language, and scaffolding your teaching by supplying these words and phrases before hand in supplementary readings or exercises;
  • 11.
    • Teach your students how to respect other people’s work and make positive comments on their fellow students’ blogs by taking them to visit some best-known educational blog sites or student blog sites, by modeling to your students how to make a comment step by step. If you are teaching beginning level students, you need to teach them the specific words and phrases they may need in commenting on others’ blogs;
  • 12.
    • Create an environment that would encourage students to use English rather than their first language by letting them watch video clips, visit Web sites, or read articles of similar themes or subjects in English, thus making sure they have enough vocabulary and structures to use in their assignments and don’t need to fall back onto their first language; It is also recommendable to make sure English is the only keyboard input option on the computers they use;
  • 13.
    • Be more active in participating teacher development activities and broaden your vision by sharing your ideas, thoughts and concerns with other teachers who has similar interest in video blogging; focusing your research on how to identify the educational needs for the use of video blogging in your daily teaching, and how to integrate Vblogging into your classroom instruction;
  • 14.
    • Get all possible support from your school or Department. But don’t depend on it. Take some courses or read some books on video blogging and prepare to work all on your own.
  • 15.
    • Use free or cheap resources and reduce the cost to the minimal level. I use a Canon PowerShot SD 780 is digital camera (12.1 Megapixel ) to shoot video in my classroom, and an 8G SDHC memory card which allows 45 minutes of video shooting. Most of the editing software I use are downloaded online free. The total cost thus is within $300.
  • 16. Canon PowerShot SD 780is
  • 17. IV. Some Tech Issues
    • File Conversion
    • Preferred video formats:
    • QuickTime, AVI, Mpeg-4
    • Free Converter:
    • RAD Video Tools (Bink & Smacker)
    • Recommended Compressor codec:
    • XviD MPEG-4 codec
  • 18.
    • Video File Editing
    • Online Editing Software
    • Adobe Premiere Express (free trial)
    • JayCut Online Video Editing (free)
    • Pixorial (free uploading & editing)
    • Motion Box (free to start)
    • Editing Software installed on your computer
    • iMovie
    • Movie Maker
  • 19. Ke’s Video Blog Sites
    • ESL Class
    • http://bmcc-hmh-esl.blogspot.com/
    • CALL Class
    • http://kexuscallclassblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/ke-xus-call-class-blog.html