Using Flipgrid with ESOL students

Flipgrid is a basically a video-making and sharing tool that is quite easy to use with ESOL students with fairly limited digital skills. I have used it at Level 1 and Level 2, but colleagues are using it regularly with lower (entry) levels. Teachers do not have to be a super techy – once you have logged in as an Educator at it is quite straightforward.
Start by using the Discussion page. Here you are invited to create Groups and Topics. You record and/or write a set of video instructions and a student access code is generated. They record their response on video and teachers can attach feedback.

It is a useful assessment tool. My Level 1 group, had been describing and comparing countries and cities and I used it as a way of focusing all their recent learning into a highly motivating, personalised speaking task. With Level 2 students, video presentations synthesized a range of newly acquired skills into an accessible, personalised task.

What are the benefits?

Students enjoy watching the teacher’s video and it is easier for some to follow than written instructions, although you can provide both.

Students were keen to come across well, so they practised repeatedly before recording and re-recording their clips.

They found listening to themselves quite enlightening! – and came away determined to improve their pronunciation.

Reviewing their own language on video was much more motivating than my repeated advice to ‘check your work’!

For quieter students they had a chance to work in the privacy of their own homes, which for some was very helpful.

ESOL students, with their spiky profiles, often feel more comfortable speaking than reading or writing, so this is a valuable boost to their confidence, at the same time as making it possible to focus on accuracy.

Any drawbacks?

As with any new digital tool, some students are more digitally literate than others. However, all they had to do was click on the link, join with Microsoft and their student email address (when the teacher sets up the group with the email address, they are automatically allowed in with their student email, so they only have to start typing it – usually just their student number- and they are accepted) and then record.

Some students have very little data. We found if they only opened Flipgrid, and shut everything else, they could use it.

Be careful to set enough recording time (up to 10 minutes is possible).

I had to encourage students to return to Flipgrid for their feedback – but once they are used to using it, I am sure they will do this automatically.

The future?

Using it as an assessment tool has been a first step. I envisage students interacting with each other more when they are more familiar with it. Other ideas for using Flipgrid include: flipped learning (students research a topic before class); speaking & listening practice (e.g. describing a process/giving instructions while demonstrating); grammar practice, pronunciation accuracy etc. Please add more!!!

Useful Flipgrid elements

You can moderate student videos before they are visible to everyone.

There is an immersive reader to read out the instructions.

Students and teachers can re-record their videos as many times as they need to.

It is easy to give feedback.

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