My EnglishCentral Experience: Duncan in Hong Kong

I have been excited about students using EnglishCentral since the 1st day I discovered it online. I had been looking for ways for students to upload dialogues online so teachers could listen, critique and comment.

Beginnings

I began using EnglishCentral with about 60 students to test its performance and functionality and I also wanted to see how the students interacted with the new technology, after all, repeating lines to a computer did seem a bit odd.

I selected videos relevant to their course and added a few music and video game selections to add variety and as bait. All EnglishCentral work was assigned as homework to be done in their own time. I then designed a worksheet to compliment each video; simple match the synonyms, true or false and some cloze sentences to reinforce the vocabulary they were learning.

The Classes

The participation was very good from the start and got better as the semester progressed. Encouragingly, most of the work was done on holidays and weekends, and there were large spikes just before assessments and exams. This showed me that the students were aware it could help them but like most other students around the globe have a few time management problems. It certainly built confidence for the classroom and I sometimes heard exact lines from EnglishCentral videos used in tests and in the correct context.

Another result that wasn’t anticipated was I noticed the shy students were consistently amongst the weekly high scorers. The early scoring system enabled even lower level students to be high achievers on EnglishCentral so long as they put in the work.

I noticed they were viewing and completing much more work than I had originally set them and saw they were watching a lot of movies, environmental and current events videos. This is great as EnglishCentral proved to be a real gateway to knowledge and not just a language tool.

I look forward to continuing to use and expand my use of English Central with my classes. Thank you guys for keeping the main functions free and also to Jon and the crew at the help desk who were always on hand to solve any teething problems.

The Future

I’d like to share my ideas for the near future utilizing an array of amazing online sites and current software I’m toying with. I plan to create an online class TV channel using Adobe After-effects and Dreamweaver software. I will create my own animations using xtranormal.com and goanimate.com. These animations will highlight that week’s language points and new vocabulary. I will need to convert the MP4 to FLV format to upload them. On the channel page there will be a link to a moodle quiz (www.moodle.com) for each film and the students can then test their knowledge with the results sent to the teacher. Also, I’m considering embedding downloadable MP3 podcasts as well as links to relevant English Central videos. Simply, a student opens the channel, clicks on the lesson and is able to watch a film, listen to vocabulary, do a quiz and speak along with a link to EnglishCentral all off one page. All this can be done with their 3g phone.

I like the way students today can proactively study for their tests by watching a video or animation, or even reading a comic and do not have to be buried in a textbook or sorting through reams of notes.

Of course online teaching should never replace classroom interaction, but it’s becoming much easier and efficient for students to study alone and enjoy it, even on the subway or café, and more convenient for teachers to ensure they are practicing and retaining the skills learnt in class.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Duncan. I was so encouraged to hear that some of your quieter students have benefited from EnglishCentral.  It’s what is great about the learning environment on our site–that by enabling students to speak in a private setting, we lower some of the affective barriers that might be raised when they’re in a classroom setting, and they feel more comfortable producing spoken language.  Fantastic!  Best of luck in your future online teaching projects–they sound fabulous! 
    Keep in touch with our team here and let us know how your students are doing. Happy teaching!

    all the best,
    Linda Arsenault
    Project Manager, Linguistics
    EnglishCentral.com

  2. Hi Duncan. I noted your comments about future plans with particular interest. Three relevant themes that we at EnglishCentral are thinking seriously about are:

    1) The addition of a variety of learning activities *around* the videos (something you’re currently doing or planning to do offline or at least offsite)

    2) Integration with other learning platforms such as Moodle. In other words, making it easier for EnglishCentral content and activities to work alongside other coursework/extracurricular activities

    3) Delivering EnglishCentral to non-PC platforms such as smart phones and tablets

    While we’ll be releasing an important upgrade to the EnglishCentral service in the weeks to come (more on this shortly), please stay tuned for action on all of the above items later this year.

    Keep up the excellent work and have a great summer,

    Travis
    VP, Product
    EnglishCentral, Inc.
    http://www.englishcentral.com

  3. Pang LaoShi (Gareth Humphris) says:

    Please make it possible to work in China, without a VPN

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