Englishcentral.com: BusyTeacher's Detailed Review
English Central is website designed to improve the listening, speaking, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
As the website describes, “The core of English Central is the video player, where students watch videos, learn vocabulary in-content of the video, and then speak using the video as a model. Access to the website is free with an easy email sign-up, but Premium memberships, which provide users with enhanced features start at $15/month.
The videos, which are classified according to level of difficulty and topic, include transcriptions and vocabulary definitions so that students can get the most out of their listening experience. The videos are interesting and cutting-edge, and there are many relevant topics to choose from. After watching the video, students can practice speaking; there is an easy-to-use built-in assessment tool called “intellicoach” that gives students feedback on pronunciation. The website provides some pretty impressive and convincing statistics that support the use of video technology to improve speaking fluency, and I have certainly seen my students benefit from it first-hand. Most of my colleagues who teach listening and speaking use this as a go-to website for their classes, and we’ve all had really good results. Their claim is that in 10 weeks, students who use English Central regularly can make notable improvement on their skills, and I think this is quite accurate.
Students can choose to access videos on an as-needed basis, but as members, they can also take advantage of the tracking tools available in order to monitor their progress. Membership isn’t necessary, and I’d encourage students (who are undoubtedly on a budget, right?) to go ahead and take advantage of all that the free version has to offer. Students can set weekly goals in the areas of pronunciation and vocabulary. They can also select Video Courses, modules of videos, and exercises that are centered around a particular skill or topic. For example, students can choose courses for Business English, English Pronunciation, or English Proficiency exam preparation (like the TOEIC). A list of courses available can be found here: http://www.englishcentral.com/courses#!/index/all/all/recent
The website is intended to be used by students, though teachers will certainly find it useful, as well. Instructors can design curriculum and goals for students, choosing appropriate videos to fit the needs of a given course. They can also select vocabulary (up to 50 words per week) for students to practice. As we know, the acquisition of new vocabulary is crucial, especially for learners in the early stages. A guide for teachers using the site that includes best practices and a tutorial can be found here.
In addition, teachers may also find the English Central Blog a useful resource. There are regular entries posted on how to use the site. For anyone who wants to incorporate this website into courses ona regular basis, this is a great resource. The blog can be accessed here.
Another cool feature is the Weekly webinars for teachers can enhance the English Central user experience and give instructors general information about ESL and EFL pedagogy.
Those teaching English as a Second or Foreign language should absolutely check out English Central, particularly for oral skills classes.
I think the website can be beneficial both in academic and conversational classes, as it serves a variety of purposes. The wonderful thing is that students can use this website independently and really get a lot out of it. Teachers who want to devote minimal time to using the course planning tools will find that this can be a great addition to any course. I love the topics, and I think students will, too. I’ve seen first-hand how this site can really help students to improve their listening and speaking skills quickly. If anyone else has used this site or directed students to it, I’d love to hear how you are using it! I’ve yet to spend much time using the other teacher resources (blog and Webinars), but they look really interesting. I’d also be curious to here if anyone has benefited from those features, too.
This is a guest review by an independent author. This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of BusyTeacher.org as a publication.
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