Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week 2, Part 2: Evaluating a non-ESL website

At the end of class last Wednesday I worked with Jena and Nourredine to come up with a list of criteria for evaluating a non-ESL website.  We have all used news clips (from websites such as CNN or YouTube) in our classes, so we decided to consider some criteria for evaluating authentic videos for listening activities.

Here's our list of evaluation criteria:
Vocabulary, speed/pace, voice clarity/background noise, interest level, content, authenticity, register, length, cultural awareness, visuals (visual input in a video may give viewers too much information, so that they can figure out the story line without having to listen to the dialogue, or there may be no visuals to support comprehension), copyright

I went to and clicked on one of the top stories: "How America's top general came to endorse women in combat."  You can find the video here:

I chose to evaluate this video because it's something I would have clicked on last summer while teaching a PIE level 3 CBI class on protests.  One of our units was on the fight for gender equality, and we were always looking for video clips to show in class.  Although the story relates to class and CNN provides authentic listening material, this particular clip is not one I would use in class, and here's why:

Content: The topic of this piece is what drew me to it.  It relates to the content students are covering in class.  However, a major issue associated with women in combat is sexual assault.  I'm not sure I'd want to tackle the topic of sexual assault with level 3 students.  Additionally, this piece is a debate.  In making their arguments, both women bring up issues that students may not be familiar with (even I would need to do some research to be able to catch everyone up on the issues, and I don't think that's a productive use of time).  Also, the fact that this is a debate means the conversation got heated at times, and...

Pace: ... the conversation was often fast-paced.  Although the video had a professional quality without distracting background noise, the speed of speech may have been difficult for level 3 students to comprehend.

Visuals: The pace was quick, and there were few visuals that would aid in comprehension.

Cultural awareness: In the midst of the debate, one woman says, "that's the approach they've taken in Iran or Saudi Arabia.  I don't think that's where we want to go in America." This could be insulting to students from Saudi Arabia.

Length: The video is almost 8 minutes.  That's a bit long for class use.  I usually try to find clips that are no longer than 3 or 4 minutes.  If I were to use only part of the video, I could use the first 30 seconds (before the debate begins) just to introduce students to the topic. However, it would probably be wise to return to the drawing board and look for a more appropriate clip.

1 comment:

  1. I like this idea, of evaluating an example of content specifically and the medium in general. It also looks like you've developed the rubric a bit more. I have a few questions about your experience with videos and CNN:

    Are subtitles an option for CNN's videos?

    In your experience what sort of visual aids would help with comprehension?