The English Culture Videos, listed in alphabetical order, are designed to provide additional learning content related to other listening activities on my site. To learn more about this project, read the Frequently Asked Questions below the video titles.
There are three main objectives for the videos: (1) add new materials to support existing content on my site through the recycling of vocabulary and topics (e.g., a video on trains is linked to a conversation called, Train Tickets: Getting Around Tokyo), (2) provide more visual multimedia content that can aid students in the language-learning process, and (3) share my own personal life experiences that might be of benefit to those who want to see new things (for example, how many people have camped in freezing, snowy conditions . . . AND had fun?). Therefore, I directly link these videos to my library of other listening activities so students see the same themes again and again, and thus learners have plenty of practice on a particular topic before moving on to something else.
How do you decide on the topics?
As with my other listening activities on my site, I carefully choose high-frequency topics, that is, those that students might encounter most often rather than lower frequency topics like a discussion a rare sea creature at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Topics like education, jobs, movies, and restaurants are common themes most students would learn in a language class. With this in mind, a teacher could give a lesson from his/her class textbook on transportation and then have students visit my site for additional practice.
Why are most of the videos short, between 30-60 seconds?
I want to create short videos that are focused on a particular theme that can be easily used for language learning in a concise way. Of course, there are benefits to having longer, less structured content, and there is plenty of such material available online already. So I decided to go the other way and provide this shorter, manageable content.
Do you plan on adding other speakers on the videos?
There can be a benefit to having a variety of speakers with different accents. However, as a matter of convenience and experience, I find that I can create the videos more efficiently with learning in mind by doing them myself. Plus, I just enjoy acting and introducing people to culture.
Do you realize there are some grammar mistakes in the videos?
Absolutely. The only place you might not see or hear grammar mistakes is in language textbooks (then again, I’ve seen a lot of mistakes in books too), and this is the case because textbooks often don’t reflect natural, unscripted speech samples. Yes, it is important that students see and hear correct models of language, but only listening to pre-digested speech won’t help them either. Striking a balance is what my videos are about. Therefore, each video clip is recorded without scripting in an attempt to make them as natural as possible. I don’t purposely add mistakes; they just sometimes come out as part of my natural speech. I ain’t perfect, ya know.
There is a lot of background noise in some the video, and it’s sometimes hard to hear exactly what is being said. Could you delete the background noise?
Actually, I WANTED to include natural background noise to reflect real listening conditions. I realize that learners are used to sterile classroom listening activities from their textbooks that leave out all background noise, but that’s not my purpose. If you can understand the video with the noise and all, then you are really learning to fine-tune your skills on the most important information in a conversation.
Which video format do you use?
The video clips have been prepared in MP4 format, which almost all computers and portable can play. The videos have been encoded in such a way so that many of my visitors who come from locations where it is difficult and/or expensive to go online can still access them. By creating videos in this way, many more people can have access to my materials. I don’t want to have to prepare three different versions for different Internet connection speeds.