Review: Teach TEFL DVD: Pre-Intermediate VocabularyA professionally filmed useful aid for teacher trainers
This video is the first in a series “aimed at helping EFL and TEFL teachers around the globe improve their understanding of good teaching practice”. As such, it definitely corresponds to a real need, as observing is almost certainly a very good way of understanding what teaching is all about. The best way to learn is obviously through teaching practice itself, but unleashing unprepared trainees on students is a bit cruel (for both the students and the trainees). Video is a useful tool for teacher-training, but it is unusual to find a professionally filmed video of a classroom situation. The series will therefore fill a useful niche in an ever-developing market.
This vocabulary-based class is split up into short sections, each focusing on a separate part of the lesson. As the accompanying website www.teachtefl.co.uk indicates, the entire session lasted 90 minutes, but the overall runtime of the DVD is around 43 minutes. The parts of the lesson where the teacher is setting up the activities are presented in full, but the sections where the students interact have been abridged. The introduction (1.39 minutes) sets the scene. The teacher is female, and the voice-over commentary is male. There are nine adult students, four female and five male. It is a visibly multi-cultural, multi-lingual group (with students from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Italy and Mali, according to the website), which will obviously reduce student interaction to what they are able to say to each other to only things in English. Although this is a realistic TEFL situation, the other type where the students all share the same first language (which the TEFL teacher does not necessarily speak with any degree of fluency) is perhaps more common. The website indicates that other levels, learning situations, and age-groups will be addressed by the remaining videos in the series, and even invites teachers to contact the team with special requests.
At the start of the video, it is not immediately clear what vocabulary the students already know and what vocabulary is being introduced, but the website also provides a free downloadable lesson plan, which will help novice teachers tremendously. The main aim of the lesson is “To teach adjectives to describe clothes – plain, striped, checked, patterned, long-sleeved, short-sleeved, torn.” It would have been helpful to know a bit more about the course syllabus, but the lesson is in fact a showcase for various vocabulary teaching strategies, which are explained in detail in both the voice-over commentary and in the downloadable lesson plan.
The teacher, Jennifer Book, is very patient and capable. The commentary could perhaps have stressed even more how much patience a teacher needs, particularly when teaching beginners and pre-intermediate levels.
The cost of this 45 minute video? A mere £50, and an even more reasonable £35 for a download. It is definitely worth contacting Teach TEFL to request a video dealing with your particular problem. The first of my three wishes would be for a video on classroom management; how to cope with a group of 30 monolingual teenagers who really don’t care about learning English. A video on that would be worth its weight in gold.
The people who made the video are also very eager to help and they reply to e-mails quite rapidly. As there is already a website, with a blog, it should be easy for them to create a forum for feedback on each video. That will undoubtedly transform a good resource into an excellent one.
Jennifer Book says:
Thank you for your helpful comments. As the teacher in the video, I would like to take the opportunity to respond to some of the queries that have been raised.
The class were following a pre-intermediate syllabus and were covering topics such as free time, clothes, family and personal information. Grammar covered included present and past simple and continuous, basic adjectives and adverbs.
We are producing some more videos to go with the series. Topics will include grammar, skills, teaching ESOL and young learners.
If there are any other topics that you would like to be covered, please let us know.