For Learners, For Teachers
by Elena Benito-Ruiz, creator of the E|FL 2.0 Blog, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain
If you’re an ELT and you’re familiar with web 2.0, and blogs and stuff, I’m almost 100% sure you know and embed Real English videos from youtube.com channels. Indeed, Real-English videos are a popular choice amongst EFL teachers and learners. I have used them from day 1, especially those for beginners, because they include captions and their speech is spontaneous but manageable.
The Web’s only online ESL site that utilizes authentic and natural ESL videos of people speaking real English on streets across the globe. Designed for individuals learning English, as well as for teachers and institutions, Real English offers unique ESL educational services, including a free subscription to for beginners, and unlimited chat with our teachers, for subscribers.
It’s a registered trademark of the Marzio School, an English language school in France, managed by Mike Marzio and co. Mike Marzio and friends interviewed people in the streets, real people in the US and in the UK and collected a wide range of clips, categorized by levels of difficulty and contents. It’s great to watch the spontaneous reactions to their questions, so that students can really grasp the English that’s really used in our daily lives. I find it more useful than those fake dialogues and the oh-so-boring listening exercises from textbooks, which claim to be authentic. But there’s nothing more authentic than authentic conversations. Real-English is realia in the EFL realm. Besides, they offer a wide range of accents and always always, an excellent sense of humor.
Videos are provided in different lengths, and they might include visual clues, such as captions, images, colors, etc. Each video is about a given topic, for instance, colors, or about a given grammatical structure. The interviewer asks the same question to every single interviewee, and since these are spontaneous dialogues from real life, interviewees’ answers differ from each other, not only in the content -obviously- but also in the form…which is the useful thing here, too, because learners will realize that there are many ways to talk about the same thing, for instance, when giving directions or telling the time.
What’s more, Marzio and co. are now working on providing some follow-up to the videos by including online activities for each video.
They also explain the vocab used in the video with images and teach you the pronunciation of the word with an audio clip.
My opinion about the site: They own a great treasure, i.e. probably the largest array of video resources/realia for EFL learners. That’s their motivation and you can easily feel it in the outcome. And now they have an amazing pile of videos to organize. Here’s where things don’t look that bright, when it comes to managing and organizing such an iniatitive. Of course, you know I’m gonna go 2.0 right now. What I miss ( know it’s hard, as I told you, Mike, but IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING):
- Something like RSS subscription to contents, so users don’t have to check what’s new every now and then, the new content gets to their RSS readers.
- Searchable content: Via Google Site Search (1.0 solution). Or if the contents could be moved to a web 2.0 publishing platform, such as Wordpress, videos could be categorized and tagged with keywords, and they’d be easily found. So if a user wanted to know if there’s anything about ‘conditionals for intermediate levels’, they could search by categories (intermediate vs beginner vs advanced) and then by tags (conditionals vs modals, etc). The only way to find content as it is displayed right now is by scrolling up and down. That’s a real downside.
Of course, there are many things that could be implemented in terms of interaction, sharing and socialization with and amongst users and standardization (of levels and terminology). I’ll keep them for myself, because I don’t want to bore you -more-.
To sum it up:
Real-English is highly recommendable for you, learning English, or for you, teaching English because contents are excellent.
And that’s what really matters. I’m fed up of posting here about sites which claim to have great multimedia resources for the EFL learner and teacher, and when you go deeper you realize it’s just another 2.0 sleek site without a methodology behind, with just a bunch of videos form youtube or bliptv and stuff. Here’s the opposite. Probably the best content ever, but with a messy layout. Fortunately I believe the former approach is difficult to be fixed, when your contents are poor and you seem to be more concerned on the appearance. The latter can be fixed, because the most difficult part, i.e. producing high-quality content, is already achieved and it’s just about making the most out of it.
We’ll see in the -near- future…? Mike, if I were you, I’d go definitely 2.0. It’d be one of the best EFL sites ever. I can’t help but think of all the things you could offer to the users…