July 2016
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Jennifer Grill, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA & Maria Beatriz Mendoza, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Jennifer Grill

Maria Beatriz Mendoza

As in most ITA programs, our program requires students to do short teaching presentations which are then video-recorded. While videotaping can be an excellent way to help students spot their strengths and weaknesses and improve their language and teaching skills, it is only as effective as ITAs’ abilities to critically analyze what they see (Yakura, 2009).

We developed the following activities to promote self-awareness and evaluation skills when reviewing class videos; an added bonus is that these activities also double as fluency builders.

Just the Welcome

Are your students terrified of the video camera? Ours are! We use this activity early in the semester to give ITAs practice with the camera and to get them used to analyzing their own videos.

As part of one of our presentation assignments, students need to introduce themselves to a class. Because this requires that they talk about their own backgrounds, they already know what they need to share, so they don’t need much time to prepare. The challenge, however, is the dreaded video camera and the great nervousness that it inspires. To keep it simple, we have students present only their welcome portion as a way to warm up to the camera, and to have a little practice with being in front of the class before they record the real presentation. It’s a relief to meet the camera on neutral ground when there is no grade attached to the performance.

We give students 2 minutes to prepare for this exercise in class. Then they go up to the board and do their short introductions one after another; the introductions are recorded. The videos are posted online on our course site and the instructor asks students to watch the video at home. Naturally, most of them don’t want to watch their videos. To gently force them to do this, we provide audio feedback for each student. As we watch our students’ videos, we audio-record our comments. Doing this provides feedback in “real time” and requires that the student watches, or at least listens, to his or her recording. This exercise introduces the ITA to the feedback process. As a follow-up, we ease the students into self-evaluation by asking them to email us and tell us how they plan to improve their performance for the actual presentation.

Transcript Analysis and Rerecording

We use this activity to help students become more aware of, and better able to self-evaluate, the use of targeted pronunciation and cohesion features (e.g., focus words, reduced speech, transitions). The following steps can take place over a few class periods:

  1. The students transcribe 1–2 minutes of their latest video-recorded presentation and send the transcript to the instructor as a Word file.
  2. The instructor uses Microsoft Word Track Changes to edit any errors and to provide new transition words and phrases or more natural formulations of language chunks.
  3. The instructor then records the edited passage so that the passage, as much as possible, resembles spoken English, not reading. The instructor also makes sure to include focus words and reduced speech as they would naturally occur. In other words, the instructor provides students with a fluent rendering of the student’s transcript. The instructor provides the student with a copy of the recording.
  4. In class, the instructor provides the students with two copies of their transcripts: one showing all of the edits and a “clean” version of the transcript in which the edits have been incorporated.
  5. Students spend some time in class going over their edited transcripts so that they can ask questions and so that the instructor can visit individual students to explain edits. This is an important step, because some students have a tendency to gloss over the edits, and thus, not notice what kinds of errors and modifications have been made. The more aware they become of the edits, the better they become at analyzing their own language.
  6. Students then listen to the instructor’s recording of the new transcript. They listen for whatever feature is the focus of the lesson (e.g., transitions, focus words, reduced speech). They mark up their “clean” transcripts in whatever way will help them pay attention to the target features. They then practice mimicking the instructor’s recording as best they can. Once they have created a recording that they are satisfied with, they send the recording to the instructor for further feedback.

Two-Minute Board Work

Students who are new to teaching often have little awareness of what they look like while presenting. They might teach to the board (thus, making eye contact with the audience impossible and muffling their voices), they often write on the board and then stand in front of what they have written, and they might write on the board illegibly. In this activity, students are video-recorded for a very short time (1 minute, twice) while they present something and work with the white board.

  1. Have students present something using the board. Ideally, what they present is something that they are preparing or have prepared for an upcoming presentation (e.g., a definition of a simple key term or a math problem).
  2. Students should spend a few minutes thinking about how they will use the board and what they will say. They take turns presenting at the board for 1 minute. The instructor video-records each student.
  3. Students view their recordings (this can be for homework, or can be done in class during the next class period) and fill out a reflective worksheet (Board Work Worksheet). They can discuss their worksheets in pairs or as a whole group and discuss what they did well and what they would do differently.
  4. The instructor then has students present the same item again and video-records them. Students view their recordings and reflect on what they have improved upon.

Other Options for Feedback

· If the group is comfortable enough with each other, students in the class can provide immediate, verbal feedback for each other as soon as they present.

· Students can view their videos in class (in a computer lab) and then discuss the worksheet questions in pairs.


Yakura, E. K. (2009). Learning to see: Enhancing student learning through videotaped feedback. College Teaching, 57, 177–183.

Jennifer Grill, PhD, is an instructor in the ITA Program at Florida State University.

Maria Beatriz Mendoza, PhD, has been the ITA Program Coordinator at Florida State Univeristy since 2005.

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