Language Coaching: Video Skits to Teach Slang

By Heidi Steele

We want our students to take advantage of the opportunity they have to improve their second language skills from interacting directly with students at their partner school. This year, we are starting a new project in which students at both schools create short videos to teach slang terms that are popular with young people. The videos include both an explanation of the phrase and a skit that demonstrates how the students use it.

My students have created one video so far (click to play below), introducing the slang term sketch:

We post these on a blog that I set up for peer-to-peer language coaching. Chinese students can post comments or questions on the U.S. students’ videos in addition to creating their own.

Organizing the logistics of this exchange highlighted the differences between our two school systems. On my side, it is very easy to allow a small group of students to create a video during class every couple of weeks. In contrast, on the Chinese side the classes are much more rigid in terms of their content and pacing, and it is not practical to work these videos into daily lessons. To address this difference, the Chinese teachers came up with a creative solution. In May, all of the students at Mudanjiang will be participating in a English drama competition. As part of the rehearsal process, each one of the 32 English classes at the school will take a few minutes out to create one video that introduces a Chinese phrase popular with young people. They will meet ahead of time to make sure there is no duplication among the classes.

In the end, we will end up with 32 videos created all at once by the Chinese students, and an equivalent number created gradually over time by the American students. I see this as a great example of how a little creativity and a flexible attitude can make collaborative projects work in the context of very different school systems.

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