Tag Archives: television

Hey, You Guys!

light bulb

In the 1970s, The Electric Company was a kids television show made by the Children’s Television Workshop, the same folks that made Sesame Street,  but designed for a slightly older, getting-ready-to-read audience.  Fast-forward to 2009.  The Electric Company is being made again by what is now called Sesame Workshop.

Each half-hour show contains a main story featuring The Electric Company kids and their antagonist Prankster peers.  Vignettes interspersed between parts of the story focus on letters and sounds that relate to the vocabulary highlighted in each episode.  Most are catchy songs or games and contests played between the characters.  I’ve embedded several videos featuring silent e in this blog post.

The best thing about this show is that it does not baby it’s audience.  Scott Cameron, the Director of Education and Research for Sesame Workshop, has experience teaching ESL with music and games.  The focus of The Electric Company is on motivating children to read and this really can’t be done by talking down to an increasingly media-savvy audience.

In our house, Silent E is a Ninja (below) is a favorite that has achieved earworm status.  Try to watch it once or twice and tell me it’s not stuck in your head the rest of the day.  You’ve been warned.

The Electric Company has even brought back its classic silhouetted heads reading words together.  These are really effective demonstrations of learning to read by sounding out words.

Videos are available on the Electric Company YouTube Channel and on the Electric Company website (which includes a section for parents and educators).

Will these videos work with adult students?  It depends on the student.  These videos are fun and poppy and targeted to a younger audience.  But as a way to expose language learners to lots of fun, catchy, repeatable reinforcement, these really can’t be beat.  Do you know of other good videos?  Post a link in the Comments section.

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Do you Hulu?

The next big thing?

Is Hulu the next big thing?

Like most innovative new technologies, Hulu starts with a funny name (there are only so many URLs left, you know).  But this might be the biggest thing you haven’t heard of — yet.  Hulu was set up by a comglomorate of major tv networks as a way to share their content online while maintaining some control over it.  It’s their answer to YouTube.

Will it work?  Wired magazine thinks so.  What seemed like mission impossible may, in fact, be working.  Hulu hasn’t entered the public consciousness in the same way YouTube has, and the former is a much more controlled environment than the Wild West of the latter, which is by design.  But the depth of content that has finally been made available is hard to beat.

Why is this of concern to ESL teachers?  Well, I’m not proposing that you have your students watch a couple of seasons of Alf (though you could) but since our students are going to watch TV, why not direct them to things that might be relevant to classroom content.  I think the first episode of Morgan Sperlock’s 30 Days, in which Morgan tries to live for 30 days on minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio, is alone worth checking out Hulu.  With so much content available, there must be more worth watching.  Go find it!

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