Different roles of digital video in ESL speaking instruction

Tristan Currie
University of Technology
Sydney, Australia

This paper presents a thematic view of the current use of video in ESL, highlighting areas of crossover and overlap, as well as fading borders and new trends. First, the role of video is delineated broadly in Part A ‘Contexts of usage.’ These contexts include: lesson review, rehearsal and interaction practice, critical and cooperative development, argumentation /media literacy training, self and peer task evaluation and cultural-suitability modelling. Contexts are compared and contrasted to distinguish minor variations in context that do not affect learning aims from minor variations in context that do.

In Part B ‘Key factors of learning aims,’ the learning content/focus areas are analysed. The content areas include language production/grammar acquisition, vocabulary, culture, conversation strategies and paralinguistics. Learning content is analysed to determine how the utility of videos in teaching transmutes the curriculum. This leads into a discussion of current thinking in the field of EAP (English for academic purposes) about the neglected macro skill of speaking, as a means of making concrete suggestions for a more mature approach to video pedagogy. EAP is examined in terms of its scope, foundations and increasingly geopolitical nature. The paper proceeds to the position that this medium takes the subjective experience and makes it tactile, adding that it can also be ‘read as a text,’ linking it to a long tradition of learning. Thus, by tracing out the patterns of activity and correlations in content, new trends emerge. The paper concludes with an emphasis on transferability of skills, suggesting that rather than merely employing video to check student understanding or ‘get’ meaning left unexplained, its role in the classroom and in the curriculum, is perspective gain as an application of language.