Blog 8 – Uses of digital cameras in ESL classroom

As teachers, we will be constantly looking for new interesting ways to make students participate and enjoy their language learning. I think one manner to get them more involve in their learning is the add the use of a camera through existing activities. There is many ways to integrate cameras in a classroom. Here I will share will you some of my ideas:

Who never had a teacher who was showing over and over the same videos that was provide by the government or the scholar institution? These videos are rarely up to date so most of the time you already have heard about it some years ago while your big brother was doing the same course. Sometimes you have many occasion to see it yourself. Not that surprising when we know how it costs to the government to create those videos for their classroom use.

But, why not to provide to students the opportunity to create videos by themselves? My first idea is that I would provide them some topics (examples: drugs, relationships, vacation, sport activities, etc.), and let them pick one of their choice. I think it can be a very good occasion for them to explore digital camera or video camera, but also to work in team in the realization of a project. They also have the occasion to reinvest their second language knowledge.

I totally agree that the “video camera in (…) the language classroom can be at least as productive for your students as playing back existing material.” Why not? Students like to create. If using a camera is one way to express themselves in a class activity, as a teacher, I will not able to ignore it. Creativity is very good for learning, and camera is the perfect electronic device to explore creativity. Here are the step that I would follow:

1- Give to students a short demonstration of the use of the selected device;

2- Create teams of 4, and let them experiment the camera for a short time;

3- Present the project to the whole class;

4- Put the topics you have selected on a list, and let them decide which one they would like to work on;

5- Provide them time for researches on websites, so they can gather information to prepare their texts (lyrics) needed for the video;

6- Find a quiet place in the school were they can produce the video without being disturbed.

7- Supervise the creation of the videos, and look at them before class presentations.

8- Plan a schedule for students to present their video, and answer classmates’ questions.

*Maybe the introduction about camerawork can be interesting at the very beginning, so my students will be able to experiment some cameras perspectives.

Another activity that I would ask them to create a totally invented family. So, they choose the number of members, the look of everyone, the personality of everyone and present them in a short video. They could use disguise to represent the family members, what could be a lot of fun. They could have some specifications to follow (e..g.: very precise body description, job tasks, two hobbies, some qualities and defects). “Not only is technology fun and motivating for our students, but also a powerful tool for learning.” Through the repetition for their videos, students will assimilate even more every word and expression they use. It would be a very good opportunity to listen at their performance, and realize by themselves when they need to say things differently to be well understood. With a digital video camera, they can practice the pronunciation, their articulation, the tone of their voice. Other ideas could be, perform a song for Christmas or create a commercial. Sky is the limit. I really think that students could also provide very original ideas.

Some researches have proved that digital video cameras are very effective in ESL classroom. An ESL classroom is more than a class; it’s a learning community that becomes a better learning environment when students are motivated, and comfortable with their classmates., and the digital camera is the prefect tool for it. During the observation, students spent much more time doing the activities which implied the use of digital cameras than in regular activity presented on sheets of paper. Also, they used their creativity, and put more effort in their tasks because of their interest. I am sure that my students will gradually learn how to work together, make new friends, and develop the quality of their English through an activity like that. Every repercussion would be very positive, from an individual point of view, but also in the goal to increase their cooperation with others.  

The digital camera is one of the most common tool that all people use at any occasion in life: vacation, birthday, competition, activity, other situations in everyday’s life. To give students a pedagogical occasion to use it would have a very good impact on many aspects of their life.

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