Exploiting YouTube Videos in EFL to Foster Critical Thinking and Collaboration

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Jake Delatolas-Saveris gives some background information on his upcoming talk about exploiting You Tube to enhance learner motivation while fostering autonomous learning skills for life.

The 21st century dawned at the commencement of the Digital Age – a time of unparalleled growth in technology and its successive information explosion (Beers, 2011).

Never before have the tools of technology made such an impact on the way we live, work, play and learn. Therefore, teaching in a 21st century classroom should meet the needs of today’s learners by integrating a variety of learning opportunities and activities to promote critical thinking, cross-curricular connections, collaborative learning ( within and beyond the classroom) and high levels of visualization to increase understanding.

Planning instruction should take into consideration Digital Age learners who expect the teaching/learning process to be interactive, engaging, up-to-date and motivating. Motivating learners has always been the key issue in designing successful lessons and materials in ELT, and motivation is what an EFL teacher should carefully consider with regard to the success or failure of any YouTube video used in the language classroom.

It is the EFL teacher who  selects the video, relates the video to students’ needs, encourages active viewing, and fosters the integration of the video with other areas of the language curriculum (Stempleski, 2002). Unarguably, neither a well-designed curriculum nor  well-planned teaching can ensure learner achievement if there is no motivation. The most systematic attempt to produce a framework for motivational strategies was made by Dörnyei (2001) who proposed a system of four dimensions. According to this framework, the driving forces of motivation in the classroom include the cultivation of a pleasant atmosphere in the classroom, relevant teaching materials, a stimulating learning environment and the promotion of  learner satisfaction.

The role of teachers in the 21st century classroom has changed from that of the “authority” to that of the “facilitator.” Teachers can promote student autonomy and create stimulating lessons by exploiting YouTube, a vast online audio-visual resource that can function effectively in multiple ways for a variety of English classes. The benefits of using YouTube videos in ELT are plenty. Firstly, videos can provide authentic language input and can present visual information that is difficult to convey otherwise. Secondly, they provide a sense of ‘being there’ as not only do videos allow students to ‘travel’ to different places, but also, they permit travel through time as well. Moreover, they can be used to model positive behaviour and to promote visual learning. Finally, they lead to deeper understanding of the subject area as well as fostering critical thinking and collaboration.

In my session ‘Exploiting YouTube Videos in EFL to Foster Critical Thinking and Collaboration’ at the 6th ELT Malta Conference under the Learning Technologies SIG strand, we will explore how learners can promote their critical thinking skills by conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information through observation, reflection, and reasoning. We will also discuss how learners of the digital age can become disengaged and unattached to their learning when they are unable to text, post, update, share, and constantly chat at school,while considering the reasons why collaboration with others is essential to their learning. Furthermore, we will examine the criteria for selecting YouTube videos to present language or elicit language in the EFL classroom, and analyse the stages that a successful video-based lesson should comprise. Finally, we will discuss techniques for video use, their implications in the classroom, and review them in depth.

All in all, Jake Delatolas-Saveris explores a wide spectrum of well-researched  implications for exploiting video in the classroom. This indepth analysis of learning through video is sure to inspire a lot of discussion and collaborative thinking at the 6th ELT Malta Conference.

Bio: Jake Delatolas-Saveris holds a B.A. in English Language & Literature (University of Athens) and an M.Ed. (Distinction) in TESOL (Hellenic Open University). He has had extensive experience in TEFL and is teaching English at Pierce – The American College of Greece. He is a seminar presenter, speaking examiner and supervisor trainer for Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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