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I am very happy to have Heather Torrie as a guest blogger. She has so many great ideas and resources to share. Here she is!

Almost two years ago, I started teaching full time in a brand-new intensive English program.  We didn’t have many resources to start with, especially for listening.  I went online and rediscovered the vast wealth of authentic listening material.  Since then, I’ve been implementing a series of student-created listening activities based on online videos.

We usually have some kind of theme in my listening classes, such as technology, business, or dating.  Based on the current theme, I have my students find a video of interest to them and create a set of questions for their classmates to answer.  For my beginning listening class, I have them simply produce five questions, but for more advanced students, I will require a set of main idea questions, detail questions, inference questions, and critical thinking questions. Sometimes, I have them identify new vocabulary and create a question for each word.  Then, I have them post their entire activity to our Blackboard discussion for the class to access.  I usually do this in class, during our lab time, but you could also have students do this as a homework assignment.

Another type of activity I do using these online videos is to simply have my students write or orally record a summary and reaction to the video clip.  This helps them develop their critical thinking skills.  After they initially post their message/audio file, I make it more interactive by requiring them to listen and respond to their classmates’ postings.  This works well for listening, speaking, and writing classes.  A short three-minute video can be a great writing or speaking prompt.

Here are some websites that I use quite regularly and contain a lot of short 3-5 minute segments.  This is of course in addition to Youtube.  Sometimes I like these sites better simply because I don’t need to sift through so much.

Online Video Resources:

News and Information

  • NPR 
  • VOA News
  • The Discovery Channel
  • The Weather Channel
  • National Geographic
  • Automobiles Sites

  • Cars.com
  • CarTV
  • Edmonds
  • Stories

  • New York Times “Vows”
  • Storycorps
  • Radio Diaries
  • Jobs and Careers

  • Job Profile Videos
  • Business Entrepreneur.com
  • Food and Cooking

  • About.com
  • Cooking Martha Stewart
  • Foodtube 
  • Flavorshare
  • Sources for Photos:

    News. Accessed March 14, 2009 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:News.png.

    Car. Accessed March 14, 2009 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CJ1A.JPG.

    Guillon. Old Book — Les Miserable. Accessed March 14, 2009 from  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_book_-_Les_Miserables.jpg.

    Employment. Accessed March 14, 2009 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Employment.jpg.

    linan08s27. MaLaTang. Accessed March 14, 2009 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaLaTang.JPG.

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    Links to Grammar Exercises

    More and more teachers are putting learning actvities on the web. It’s wonderful to see the number of resources growing and the willingness of good teachers to share their work. A few weeks ago, a colleague asked me where he might be able to find some online grammar exercises and I thought I would use this post to share a few sites. The links below are to the indexes. There’s a lot to sift through and I feel it’s too much information for the students, so I go through the indexes and choose only the exercises that fit the objectives of a particular course. You could use some of these exercises to supplement a grammar course or as support for a writing course.

    When I find a link that targets a course objective, I put it on Blackboard. My students can then go to the folder for the lesson and easily access the site. If you have a website, you could put the links on your site. If you don’t have either of these, you could email the students the links and if that is not possible, give them a handout with the Internet addresses.

    There is so much good stuff in these indexes and it is exciting! Recently I was very pleased to find a site on Avoiding Run-on Sentences by Julie Sevastopoulos (Grammar-Quizzes.com). Early on in my writing course we focus on this point, but we continue to return to it. I’ve added this link to Blackboard and will use it next semester as an additional opportunity for review. The explanation, examples, and exercises are perfect for the level and the needs of my writing students. If you have some sites that you would like to share, please add a comment to this post with the address.

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