ESOL – Preparing for an Interview (Entry 3 / Pre-intermediate)
There are loads of great examples of using new technological tools in the classroom, but I haven’t seen many detailed guides for including them in teaching, I thought that I’d like to share a lesson plan that I created for a lesson using Busbi/Flip cameras. This lesson was to prepare students for an interview for a course of study, but could easily be adapted to suit a job interview context.
The Starting Point
For this lesson, I took the DFES-produced Skills for Life ESOL materials as a starting point. These materials are often much maligned, and there are reasons for this. However, I find that there are some useful things in it, at least at Entry 3 level, you just have to pull it apart and make it better! There’s a great post on creative/subversive use of teaching materials from Marisa Constantides on her blog. In the original pack, a lesson on identifying key factors in an interview for a course is followed by a role play to practice an interview for a work placement. I decided that the recording provided was useful, but that I’d like to get learners filming their own interviews and evaluating themselves.
I’ve provided the plan here, in case you want to follow it (I’ve taken out the students’ names for obvious reasons). I started with the recording provided in the materials (Page 11 of Unit 6 of the E3 Skills for Life Learner Materials pack – Sadly I haven’t found the audio files to be downloadable anywhere – unless you download this SmartNotebook file from Talent.ac.uk) and students listened for gist, then tied to predict the questions that could be asked in the next section of the interview (this was written down for later).
We listened to the second part of the recording to see how the questions compared to our predictions. We then discussed how well we thought that Mrs Hassan did in the interview and how she could improve her interview. Learners completed this worksheet in groups.
Learners then worked in groups to create lists of Do’s and Dont’s for interviews on Flip Chart paper (again, to be used later). This was put to one side and learners were encouraged to think back to courses that they had found information about in previous lessons. Learners then completed this handout individually to prepare for interviews:
Learners worked in groups of three – one filming, one interviewing and one being interviewed to roleplay and record an interview for their chosen course (here you have to set a fairly strict time limit otherwise it all gets a bit complicated). Once all the learners had recorded an interview, they choose topics from the Do’s and Don’ts written up earlier to analyse from their recordings, using this handout:
Learners then identified an area that they would like to improve and recorded a new interview, before watching back and seeing their improvement.
The cameras that I used here were Busbis. I have found these to be the very suitable for this type of activity as a) They are cheap (£30-ish) and b) they play back audio at a decent level on their internal speakers; I have found with Creative Vado and Flip cameras that learners are sometimes unable to hear themselves when they play the recording back. The disadvantages of using Busbis are that a) the picture quality is not good, this is unashamedly lo-fi and b) the controls can be fiddly for selecting the video for playback, learners do sometimes delete videos accidentally.
I think that Busbis’ great advantage is their price – this means that you can have a lot more of them per class, leading to higher student involvement. Being more sure of being able to hear learners on the cameras means that you don’t need to be in an IT suite to take advantage of them.
I like to embed learners’ videos into Moodle Wiki pages. If you can get the files converted to .flv, and uploaded into your moodle course, then they will embed automatically once you link to them. It also means that you can restrict learners to only being able to see their own videos – this can be beneficial for learners more reticent to be filmed.
I then link these wiki pages to a Moodle feedback activity and ask students to watch the video again and reflect on questions in order to improve their langauge use. Moodle will then store this for you.
The reception – what the learners thought.
I’ve always been a bit worried about pointing cameras at learners (or getting them to do it to each other), but I’ve also always been surprised at the results. Learners might feel a little bit silly or embarrassed at some point, but usually they find the experience to be very positive. I am always careful to let the learners know that these videos are just for them and that I’m not going to stick them on the college website or YouTube, or whatever – that probably helps. I think video recording is very useful for learners, as it gives them a greater opportunity to reflect on their langauge use, giving them a new perspective. I also believe that it is validating, learners can show off a written document easily, but this technique leaves with something else that they have produced themselves using their skills – which they can show to other people if they want.