Thursday, December 1, 2011

MailVU : Mail You Can View

What is MailVU ? MailVU is a tool which you can swap from sending people a boring plain email into an interesting video email. You can record yourself talking up to 10 minutes and send it to your friends. It is a simple and easy website, with a couple of clicks - click allow website to use webcam, record youself and click send - you can send a video email to everyone and they can reply with their own video email too! You can never imagine the excitement of sending and receiving MailVU until you try it yourself!

How MailVU can benefit English learners?

  1. Learners can use the tool to send video email to their friends and family instead of writing an email. This way they can practice to use English in speaking and it is a good way to express themselves. They can always record and re-record the video message until they are satisfied with the speaking. At the same time, they can listen to their own speaking, making sure they are using the correct language and they can improve themselves if there is any mistakes such as wrong pronunciation.
  2. This is a great tool to be used as a connected classroom. Connected classroom is when an activity that has been done in the classroom is extended and the interactive activity is done outside the classroom as well. Let say, in the classroom teacher discusses with the learners on how would they spend their Christmas and winter holiday. As a homework, teacher might ask the learners to produce their own MailVU message and talk about the topic for a maximum of ten minutes. This way, learners can practice to speak in English not only in the classroom but also at home. What teacher can do is, listen to their recordings, make some notes on their use of English and send them a reply video to give them any comments or feedbacks.
  3. It is a good opportunity for the learners to improve their speaking skills. It is useful for learners who are afraid to speak in front of other people. They can practice speaking by themselves without having any interference such as other people which might discourage them.
  4. The examples of speaking activities that teacher can suggest the learners to do are interview (where learners can do the interview in pairs), advertising or promoting a product (practice speaking to get a market for a product), telling a story about themselves or people that they admire (personalisation) and even a mini cooking show!

The advantages of MailVU:

  1. It is free so you can record, re-record and send as many video emails as you like. You don't need to register to be able to use the tool.
  2. It is fast, simple and easy to use. Even younger learners can use it easily.
  3. It encourages learners to do speaking outside the classroom.
  4. A new way to learn English despite of the traditional classroom language learning.
  5. The video messages can be sent via email and you can play them on smart phones!

The disadvantages of MailVU:

  1. There is no such embedded code so you can only share your videos through email and view them online.
  2. It is not suitable to be used in the classroom as the recording process might get interrupted by interference such as background noise, time constraint and of course we need enough computers for all the students.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

EllloEnglish !

This week website is another useful tool for improving listening skill. Elllo offers loads of listening materials ranging from audio clips, video clips, songs, news and etc. It is like an online library for listening materials!

The website is organized according to the theme for each listening materials types. There are a few types or sections – View, Mixer, Game, News, Videos, Scenes and etc. Each section provides lists of listening materials. You can click on a topic and it will link you to a Listening Lesson. The listening lesson comprises the multimedia, free mp3 files, transcription, vocabulary tasks, language notes and many more. Learners are not only having the access to the listening materials but also the tasks. They can do the listening activity online. Even more, they can easily download the listening materials together with the listening activity if they were to do the practice some other time on their computer without having to use the internet.

Learners between 13 to 17 years old might benefit from this website and they might find Elllo interesting and easy to carry out because of the well organization and layout as well as the variety of topics offered.

Here I am showing one example of the listening activity. The topic I chose is 'Boys Camp'. It has an audio clip for the listening, the transcription, audio slide show, vocabulary focus and the comprehension questions.

Why I should recommend Elllo to learners?

  1. Elllo offers numerous listening materials which are recorded by the people from the different parts of the world. Hence the English used by the speakers in the audio or video clips are differing in accents. Learners can learn the differences between native speakers and non-native speakers’ uses of English.
  2. The advantage of using authentic materials in learning language is learners can adapt how the language is used in the real world situation.
  3. The variety of topics including culture surrounding which learners can choose to complement their personal interests in additional to their knowledge. This is also a good example of integrating content in language learning.
  4. Encourage autonomous learning as learners can do all the activities outside the classroom without the help from the teacher.
  5. Learners are exposed to different types of text which require them to engage with different language skills (listening, writing, reading, vocabulary). It offers learners the opportunity to learn and practice the skills.
  6. Enriched with vocabulary - vocabulary enhancement in terms of pronunciation and information on how to use the words correctly.
  7. Provide learners with the reason for listening so that they can complete the tasks afterwards.
  8. It is free to download all the contents and it is legal to copy and distribute the materials for educational purposes.

Some limitations to this tool:

  1. The videos cannot be downloaded. You can only download the mp3 files of the listening materials.
  2. The website sometimes corrupts and when it happens, it changes the layout, loses all the images and might result in discouraging learners to continue using the tool.
  3. The advertisements on the page are sometimes distracting. I get confused between the video for the listening material and the ads video.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend this website for learners to improve their English language uses and skills.