Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, December 29, 2005

One More Plug For Recording

by AJ

Ive written about this before... but it bears repeating: If at all possible, record yourself teaching. Audio, or video, or both. I cant stress enough how useful and educational this is.

We all have a distorted self-image. We often imagine we are more effective, more interesting, and more powerful in the classroom than we are. Its easy to do. After all, we are native speakers and our students are not. The language naturally seems easier to us... the repetition becomes boring for us more quickly. Its very easy to misjudge the students comprehension and needs.

Likewise, its easy to misjudge the skill of our presentation. Before audiotaping a recent class... I imagined I was delivering lessons in an energetic and powerful way. To my horror, I discovered that while I was certainly energetic... I was far from powerful. My delivery was jumpy, shrill, weak, and confusing at times. I rushed through the lesson. My explanations were far too quick. There wasnt enough repetition. And I sounded like a hyper poodle on crystal meth.

The truth isnt pretty... but it is instructive. While it can be useful to have an observer in class... Ive rarely benefited from their feedback. They usually tell me things I already know, or things which clash with my teaching philosophy or style, or things which dont gel with my experience.

Taping is harsher and more useful. It exposes weaknesses mercilessly (and shows strengths as well). Therefore, my number one suggestion for the new year is to tape yourself often. I recommend using both audio recordings (unobtrusive) and video recordings (more informative).