Welcome to English without Fear! If you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably a parent, language coach, teacher, or a tutor who helps others pick up and learn English as a second language. You’ve come to the right place!
This is not a space where you will find grammar rules or lists of vocabulary to memorize. No! This is a platform dedicated to providing you with interesting short video stories in simple, slow English.
Research shows that we pick up a language when the input around us is compelling, clear, repetitive, and easy to understand. We humans are wired to listen for and enjoy stories. We are story-listeners and story-tellers. We like a bit of suspense. We like to find out HOW a problem is solved and what happens in the end.
Story-listening in another language that is presented with acted-out motions or pictures is a simple but highly effective method for acquiring language. So how might you use these videos?
If you know OF an English language learner, just pass on the website as a supplement to their acquisition process. All they need to do is watch each video several times. The first time they watch, they should just focus on trying to understand the story. No need to worry about individual words.
When they watch and listen again they will understand some more. Repetition is important.
If you are a teacher or language coach, you can use any of these videos this way:
- View the video first
- Jot down an opening question to get your student’s attention. The question will also signal the context of the story. That helps prepare the learner’s brain to listen FOR the storyline right from the start.
- After the video, ask some yes/no questions. Don’t force your learner to speak in English. Brain research shows that we need to understand language LONG before we produce it. But yes/no questions are appropriate. New beginners can nod their heads yes or no. “Does Maria have a big cat?” Either/or questions can be posed using hand motions for each option: “Is Maria’s cat BIG…..or SMALL?” Students can point to the correct hand/option.
- After you’ve asked some comprehension questions, have them watch the video again. This time, if you want, you can pause the video and ask further, more detailed questions.
- A fun follow-on activity is to select several concrete actions that use vocabulary or phrases from the video. You can write them down during your video preview. Read each statement slowly, several times, while your student draws the action. Don’t rush him. I have found that students enjoy sketching. It gives their brains a rest. For example: “Maria’s cat eats a sandwich.” The short sentences you read out loud don’t have to be true, based on the story. In fact, if you want to verify that your student understands the actually meaning of a word or phrase, then you can create some inaccurate statements. They will enjoy the surprise! For example, “Maria eats a lot of cat food. Jason, the cat, likes to cook dinner.”
These are just a couple of suggestions. Let your imagination and your student’s ability and interests be your guide to what follow-on activities you choose.
Besides story videos for your learners, I also post an occasional teaching video for you, the ESL coach/tutor. The methodology that I use, called Comprehensible Input, has many aspects and I like to highlight one occasionally in a way that is useful to you.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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