Recording Your Students…

…secretly, and in case they are suspicious, why else? Of course I jest, I’m taking about recording your students to help improve their English.

I’ve done it like this: students work in groups to produce a presentation of some kind – I specifically remember using this with Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate’s holiday lesson (Module 6?). They worked in pairs, chose a holiday, and came up with a four or five minute presentation on it, which they recorded and then played for the class. But why record it when they can just give the speech in person, or in pairs, and that way get either more speaking time or more time for some other activity?, one student asked. Well, that’s a good point, and I certainly wouldn’t ask them to record themselves in this way every time, but one reason for doing it this is just variety (which is of course the spice of life). There’s also a bit more pressure to produce something good – and good at different levels – when you know it will be recorded and played
back. It can also be useful for learners to hear themselves speak when they aren’t actually speaking and thinking about what they are going to say next.

One option for the follow-up is that you can also transcribe it – though I’d be cautious about it singling people out (he made this mistake, you made this one) – and see if students can pick out some of their own mistakes. I’d use this to help make the point that practice is important – even when they know a grammar point, they may make mistakes under the pressure of speaking. So instead of studying the grammar point they already know, they should practice speaking more; there will be less and less pressure when they speak and accordingly fewer mistakes.

I haven’t done this personally, but it would be fun to keep the first recording, record your students much later, and then play it back as an audio record of their progress. I think many would be surprised and pleased to note their own progress.