Tag Archives: video

Teaching English with the Vlog Brothers

2 Oct

Video is an excellent medium for use in the language classroom. It can be used either for teaching or revising. Research shows that students are more likely to retain complex information when it is presented in video format. Furthermore, students take ownership of their learning as they make decisions about when and where to view their videos and how often.  With John and Hank Green, the two brothers who are the creators of Vlogbrothers, students are entertained as they are introduced to simplified complex subjects thus creating a learning experience that is motivating, memorable and engaging.

The origin of the Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel was a one-year project that the two brothers started in 2007 when they committed to update each other every weekday of the year using a video no more than 4 minutes long.

Since then, Vlogbrothers, where the brothers post video blogs on different subjects, has grown extensively to include many projects such as “Crash Course“,  where John Green teaches you US History and Hank Green teaches you Chemistry.

Check out the following video for a taste of John and Hank!

Another note-worthy project started by the brothers is Project for Awesome where individuals are invited to create videos about their favorite charity. What a great class project that would make!

John and Hank are very popular with middle and high school students. As the teacher, however, if you do plan to use their videos, it is vital that you watch all the material to be shown to students beforehand.

At the end of the school year…

16 Jun

At the end of the academic year, it is good to take time to reflect on the progress made in one’s teaching, the challenges encountered, and the vision and goals one holds for the next academic year. Teaching is a unique profession in that it allows us a fresh start at the beginning of each academic year and reflection ensures that we are continually growing in our teaching career.

As I reflect back to this year, I find myself pondering the question what does it mean to be a teacher? Is being a teacher in Hanoi different from being a teacher in Dubai, Chicago or Montreal or any other city? Has my role as a teacher changed from the time I first taught in 1986?

It is a known fact that good teaching encompasses the development of a child as a whole and is, without doubt, a very challenging and demanding profession. After parents, teachers play the most vital role in shaping a child’s character and molding future generations.

In a funny and inspiring talk on TED Talks Education, Rita Pierson addresses the question of what is good teaching. She urges teachers to build relationships with their students. Good teaching, she points out, is about human connections and the building of significant relationships. She shares examples from her own experience of teaching and that of her mother reminding us once again that the influence that a teacher has on students goes beyond the imparting of knowledge or the teaching of concepts and skills.


As I reflect back on this year and all of my previous years, I know that teaching has not changed for me. From the onset of my career as a teacher, it has always been about my students’ overall well-being. In Hanoi or in any other city, teaching for me has been about cultivating my students’ curiosity, motivating and inspiring them to be the best they can be, and always reminding them that they have all that they need to be anything they wish to be.

Rita Pierson talks about children needing a champion, someone who does not give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and who insists that they become the best they can be. What I have learned in my 20 years of teaching is that I can be that champion in my students’ lives.

As I step back and reflect on this academic year, I know that every one of my students learned one thing well and that is that they are special human beings who mattered greatly to me. In time, they may not remember all the English words I taught them but I am certain they will always remember how I made them feel.