Saturday, December 3, 2011


What is MailVU?

MailVU is a website which allows users to create a video message and users can email the video to anyone. This tool is free and very user friendly. All you need is a webcam and click on the button to record and send the recording. 

How can teachers use MailVU?

One of the activities that teachers can use with MailVU is having students to record about the important dates in their lives. Teachers may begin by drawing a timeline in the class and write several dates on the timeline. Teachers may then get students to ask what happen during the timeline in the teachers' lives and teachers will answer students' questions. After that, teachers may get students to draw their own timeline and get students to work in pair and ask each other of what happen during the dates that they have written. As a homework, teachers may get students to record a video of themselves describing their own timeline using MailVU and email it to the teacher. Speaking at home and with no one watching them allows students to be more confident and lower their affective filter as they will not be nervous to use the language.

Other than that, a variety to the activity could be recording interviews. In this activity, students may interview a friend by asking them some personal questions and record it using MailVU. Students may take turn interviewing each other and then email it to the teacher. This activity allows students to speak meaningfully and create purpose for students to talk as well as listen because there are information gap. Students are also able to use the language more meaningfully. Teachers may then decide to play several videos of interviews in class.

Another activity will be asking students to promote an item. Students may take the role as promoters who are trying to persuade the teacher and the rest of the class to buy an item. The items could be anything, for example, a broom, a towel, a computer, or an apple. Students will do the recording at home and email it to the teacher and on the next lesson, the teacher will play the videos to the rest of the class. Students who are watching may be asked to give comments on whether they will or will not buy the items. At the end of the class, students may vote on which three items that they will buy. Other than practising speaking, this activity allows students to make use of persuasive language.

I believe that the activities above using MailVU is suitable for learners of all level and ages because they may speak according to their levels of English and at their own pace as the videos can be recorded at home. In addition, the videos can be redone if the students are not happy with their videos.

For more information on how to use this tool, you can check out the video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about MailVU...

  1. It's FREE!!!
  2. User-friendly. Easy to use with only 3 clicks and it's done.
  3. The time limit for the recording is quite long (10 minutes)
  4. Suitable for students of all levels of English because students may speak using their level of English.
  5. A variety for homework. Instead of having a written homework, students do a recording and email it to teachers.
  6. Connected classroom activities. Plus, it gets students to practise speaking English even at home!
  7. The recording can be sent, deleted and saved when the students sign up! 
  8. The receiver of the email may also reply the video using MailVU. 
What I dislike about MailVU...

  1. Cannot be embedded on blogs or websites if students do not sign up for an account. 
  2. The FREE TRIAL ACCOUNT only valid for 14 days.
  3. The videos cannot be downloaded.


What is Elllo?

Elllo or English Listening Lesson Library Online is a website which stores LOTS and LOTS of listening lessons that teachers can use. The materials are divided into Mixer, Videos, Views, Games, and News. Each of the materials focus on listening as well as Vocabulary Quiz, Speaking Quiz, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary focus.

How can teachers use Elllo?

This tool is suitable for students of all levels of English because each of the listening materials is labelled with the level in which the listening material is suitable for. Teachers may use this website to create variety to their lessons whereby teachers can download the audio and use it in the class. Teachers may also print the transcript to be given out to students at the end of the lesson for comprehension activities.

The materials also come with activities which involve vocabulary focus. Therefore, teachers may also use the listening materials to introduce specific vocabulary to students as the audio does not only pronounce the word, but also explain the meaning of the word. It will be a more interesting way to learn the meaning of words rather than flipping through dictionary. The vocabulary also may involve phrases and idioms.

The listening materials also involve the use of English using different accents from all over the world. This could be a good way to expose students to a variety of accents in using English rather than just the Received Pronunciation (RP). 

Elllo is also suitable for autonomous learning in which students can use this website during their own free time at home. Students may choose activities that suit their age and level and learn the language themselves. 

For students and teachers who are interested to use this website, you can check out this video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about Elllo...

  1. Important to hear a variety of accents
  2. Authentic materials - real English that we hear on the street
  3. Topic varies which makes it culture rounded
  4. Encourage personalisation because it gives people choice on what to hear, or from what culture
  5. It provides variety for lessons in class
  6. Promote autonomous learning as students may learn to improve listening skills on their own
  7. Multiple skills (listening, spelling, writing, reading)
  8. The comprehension activities create reasons/ purpose for listening 
  9. Provides context in which language is learnt in context and not isolated from context.
  10. Students can self assess and self evaluate their own performance 
  11. CLIL - learn about technology and learn about English
  12. Vocabulary enhancement - the audio of the vocabulary does not only pronounce the word but also explains the meaning of the vocabulary.

What I dislike about Elllo...

  1. Some of the audio/videos cannot be downloaded.
  2. Organisation of the topics - the labels on the left side of the website are only numbers, rather than having labels of the topics.
  3. Technical issue. Users may experience 'error' on the website.
  4. The language used in the videos may have grammar mistakes. Therefore, not suitable if the focus of our lesson is on accuracy.