Making movies with the PSP in the English Language classroom

As part of a Molenet UK project I was asked to use some PSPs including add on cameras with a group of ESOL learners – lucky for me. With a tiny camera that screws into the USB connector port at the top of the PSP, you can start to shoot video straight away. The wide screen makes it easy to see and playback what you have recorded and, when connected to a PC you can watch what you have made straight away.

In fact the PSP camera is so easy to use, I decided to make a small spelling video that I could show my students if I had to pop out of the classroom for a few minutes – click here to watch it.

So, students have got a video camera? What now?

Making videos might seem like a fun and interesting activity with the chance for learners to use their creative talents to produce something tangible. However, without strict instructions and guidelines, it can quickly become de-motivating and students will lose interest as they don’t know what to shoot. It’s worth remembering that this is not a media studies class and most students are not as creative as Steven Spielberg.

I put students into groups of three where the main language had to be English and gave each group a PSP with a camera attachment. In two minutes, students had figured out how to shoot and record video footage, I helped some groups and techie students helped less techie students. I then gave the tiny worksheet below to each group and had us all read it together.

**********************************************************************************************************

Make a movie to promote [where you teach]

Make a short film about [where you teach]. This will be an advert of what is there and why it is good.

In your film you should include

–          the library

–          the computers in the library

–          something else that is interesting

You should also interview at least one member of your group on the camera. Here are some of the questions you could ask:

  1. What’s your name? Where do you come from? How old are you?
  2. When did you come to [Where you teach]?
  3. Tell me about your first day.
  4. What are the good things about where you learn English?
  5. Have you had any problems here?
  6. Have you got any advice for anyone learning English? Is there anything they should do or shouldn’t do?

You can also ask any other questions you like!

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Students then had half an hour to shoot a film following the instructions above, which they did with varying degrees of success. 

When the students came back I plugged each PSP into our interactive whiteboard, and by selecting each media file by number, was able to show the student’s complete films, unedited and in the order they shot them.

Impact on teaching and learning

–         We’ve only just scratched the surface with this and the possibilities are really endless in terms of practising speaking and listening by working together as well as editing which would involve team work and literacy skills.

Learners’ reactions

–         Some learners really liked this and really got into the spirit of making a film. But other students found it more difficult to come up with idea – chatty and creative students need to be mixed with those who are less so.

–         Students loved watching their own and each other’s videos and were genuinely motivated by watching and laughing at each others work.

Teachers’ reactions

–         I was proud of what some students had achieved, others hadn’t tried very hard however. Mix the groups up so that stronger students are with weak students.

Lessons learned

–         mix ability and creativity in groups

–         Some people do not want to be filmed – this is fine, give them the opportunity to be the camera person. In this task, those shy students often asked the questions to the person they were interviewing. Some even found out that they were not shy at all and ended up on the video.

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