Make your students the stars


Here at Macmillan Education, we’ve got lots of exciting webinars coming up over the next few months. Our first webinar of the 2013/14 season, hosted by Mike Hogan, is available to watch here on Youtube, along with our recent archive, and you can find all our upcoming webinars on our website.

FilmingSince the advent of Google+ and “hangouts”, webinars are becoming more and more popular, and I think it’s safe to say that as time passes, they will become even more important in the world of social media. So as well as using Macmillan Education’s webinars for a bit of professional development, why not also try and incorporate the webinar format into your English classroom as well?

Much like any kind of video content, webinars make a great source of listening for your students. They’re different from films and television programmes because they’re not rehearsed and they’re unedited; as a result, they actually provide students with a hint of real language, where the speaker might hesitate, make a mistake, or change their flow mid-sentence. This can be a great confidence-builder, as it helps students realize that even native English speakers will naturally make mistakes! Having said that, the speech in a webinar is usually at a steady speed and fairly clear because webinar speakers need to be as clear as possible in case there are delays or sound issues with the technology they’re using. So if you’re looking for some authentic listening material, why not try a webinar! As a starting point, you could check out Google+’s hangout schedule, with a list of all upcoming webinars on a whole range of different topics. For a refresher of ideas for using video in the EFL classroom, you could take a look at Jackie McAvoy’s video project series on onestopenglish.


But if you want to get your students’ creative and productive juices flowing, you could get them to plan and host a webinar instead of just watching one! The beauty with this kind of task is that students could choose any topic they want, so they’re bound to get really involved. You can use Google Hangouts absolutely free, and if you set up a special Youtube account for your class, every Hangout that your class hosts would be recorded and saved to that account, and they can be kept private too. You could tie these webinars topics into things that you’re studying in your syllabus, or give students free reign over what they talk about. You could even use them as a regular way of revising and consolidating grammar and vocabulary at the end of a unit. Before they do their first one, play them a couple of webinars to give them a model for what they need to do; for example, sharing slides, asking questions, and even doing a sound check! You can also give different students different roles, such as host, attendee, moderator, and so on. For even more ideas on using video conferencing with your students, take a look at Nik Peachey’s special ‘Tech Tools For Teachers’ article on video communication.



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