In the Spotlight
Thank you to Jayme Adelson-Goldstein for inviting me to inteview for the Materials Writers Interest Section of TESOL. She guided me through a series of reflections. I hope MWIS members got something out of the dialog that Jayme and I enjoyed so much. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.
EnglishClub Site of the Month
Co.Exist Recognizes the Power of Online Videos in the Context of Social Media
May 8, 2012
Support for my work is always appreciated, and it means a great deal when people actually “get it.” They understand how something so small, like homemade videos, have great potential. I think the beauty of online instructional videos is that they can be accessed by many around the world, so people who watch a given video then share an experience. Online media has the power to bring us all a bit closer together. Shared experiences can lead to shared understanding, and then the world is just a fraction better because of that. Co.Exsit’s Editor explains the purpose of their site: “This site is focused on groundbreaking innovation, innovation that’s going to change the way we live and the resources we use. We’re for brash and creative solutions, that make everyone rich while helping the people of the world lead lovely, clean, and fulfilling lives.” Wow! To know I can be a tiny part of that is exciting. Thank you to Hunter Walk for posting the article “Can Online Video Usher in a New Age of Empathy.”
GigaOM Recognizes ESL on YouTube
January 8, 2012
In GigaOm’s posting “ESL instruction videos teaching more than English on YouTube” Liz Shannon Miller described ESL channels as often “overlooked” but “genuinely useful.” My channel got a brief highlight, and kudos went to RachelsEnglish along with a featured video of hers. Hooray for ESL! It’s wonderful when others outside the ESL community recognize the importance and the potential impact of free online educational resources for language learners.
YouTube’s “On the Rise” Contest
I was honored with the nomination as a “Rising Partner” on YouTube. I found myself in very diverse company. The other three nominees included an artist, a skateboard videographer, and a pop culture vlogger. First place went to Xiaonan, an extremely talented portrait artist based in New York. I was proud to earn second place in this international social media contest. You may still see the original announcement page here.
ComputED’s 15th Annual Education Software Review Awards (The 2010 EDDIES)
I was among the honored winners in 2010. It was amazing to find myself in this position after a little under two years of blogging. I was thrilled to receive the ESL Website Blog Award. Thank you to the EDDIES judges.
“The Influence of Public Ratings and Comments on an Online Materials Writer”
My article was published in the MWIS Newsletter: The official newsletter of TESOL’s Materials Writers Interest Section. March 2010, Volume 23, Number 1. My goal was to inspire other materials writers to explore online opportunities.
EFL Classroom 2.0 Ning Forum Posting (Click here to view posting.)
March 9, 2010
Mike Marzio of Real English wrote one of the kindest and most supportive reviews of my work to date. The fact that he posted his review on my birthday (which he wasn’t aware of) made it extra special. Thank you, Mike! I’m a fan of your work, too.
EFL Bridges Interview (Click here to watch.)
January 11, 2010
Guest speakers: myself and Dave Sconda of EnglishMeeting.
American English Pronunciation Blog (Link)
August 15, 2009
Business TV – with Andie
September 24, 2008
Andie, an online researcher for a business television channel in New Zealand, is a YouTuber like me. On her own channel she features others’ online work via YouTube’s Hottest 500. I was delighted to learn I made her list.
Reprinted with permission from TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.)
When I left my full-time job as an ESL teacher and administrator to devote more time to my family, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to write textbook material from home. Two years later, two books later, and two children later, I again found a way to balance career and family life–online instruction!
YouTube became my medium of choice, and I knew from the beginning that there would be both benefits and challenges in using this popular website. First of all, I would be my own boss, have total creative freedom, and explore the educational potential of this relatively new vehicle of mass communication. That alone was strongly appealing. Of course, I had seen videos by other English teachers, but no one was offering what I considered to be the “complete package”: an engaging lesson with a thorough presentation and effective practice. The main challenge then was to learn how to teach effectively through video; it wasn’t simply a matter of transferring all my skills from a traditional classroom to a virtual one. In order for students to assimilate a lesson, a teacher must engage them and gain their faith. After all, the learning process is at its best a relationship between the teacher and the student. But how was I to establish such a relationship in my videos for a faceless mass audience? I do this in part by infusing my lessons with personal experiences; if the viewers get a chance to know me, they can begin to trust me. The variety of examples from my own life also captures their interest and makes the lessons more memorable.
My project has met with success. In seven months’ time, I have received well over 1,000 subscribers worldwide. The numbers confirm that people are eager for online instruction. However, I want to offer more than that. In a traditional school setting my contact with students always extended outside the classroom. I was highly visible and approachable. I recall numerous times and places when students sought me out: in the hallway, at lunch, in the staff room, and even in the ladies’ room! “How could I make myself approachable and accessible to an online audience?” I thought. Part of the answer lay in my presentation. From the very first video I introduced myself simply as Jennifer; without a title or last name, I wanted to come across as confident yet not pretentious, in other words, someone whom students would want to approach. Next came the task of making myself accessible: I created an e-mail account for my viewers, which I advertise on my YouTube channel. The strategy worked. Every day I receive new comments, requests, personal stories, and questions. People who never thought they would be in contact with an American are excited to correspond. Avid learners who cannot afford classroom instruction request help on specific topics. New teachers seek guidance in their lesson planning; more experienced teachers appreciate the occasional consultation or debate. My viewers include travelers, immigrants, factory workers, administrators, artists, business people, and even whole families. Their ages range from the early teens to the early seventies. In short, it is a wonderfully diverse community, and I am honored to be at the center of it. I cannot help but think that the experience as whole illustrates the theme of the upcoming TESOL convention: “Building Communities”.
Through this amazing experience I have undoubtedly grown as a teacher. I have learned how to teach with new software, and I have learned to work within new parameters (a 10-minute limit and no copyrighted material). In putting my work online, I have in fact put my teaching on display. On the one hand, I have opened myself up to ratings, criticism, and public comments. On the other hand, the positive and constructive feedback tells me which techniques are effective and which aspects of my teaching can be improved. Other teaching professionals have been particularly supportive, and I am truly flattered when I am told that my material is being used in someone’s classroom or on a school website.
As for the future, I am considering viewers’ requests for instructional CDs or DVDs as well as the possibility of creating my own website. I hope to get more ideas when I attend the New York TESOL convention in April. For now, I have decided to simply enjoy this unique experience. All good things do come to an end, but before it is over, I intend to love and learn from every minute of it.