Christina Rebuffet-Broadus makes her own ELT videos and puts them on her own You Tube channel. Watch her introductory video and then read her top ten tips for getting started. They include lots of practical advice for anyone interested in making their own ELT videos. (You can also watch more of her videos using the link at the end of this post.)
I believe I can help more people improve their English by making video lessons available on YouTube. Videos will never replace the experience of working with a teacher or exchanging with real people, but they can inspire and entertain learners and help them improve their English little by little. Of course, you can make videos for the online world, or just for your classroom. The choice is yours. For many teachers, just taking the leap to creating their own videos can seem daunting. What kind of equipment do I need? How much time will it take? How much tech knowledge do I need? For classroom teachers, using your own videos to add a personal touch to your courses can show your students how much you care about them. For freelance teachers, video-making can add enormous value to your brand. Potential clients can see who you are and what you do, and contact you because they want to work with you. And on a personal level, it allows us teachers to explore our creative side, have fun with our work, and just do something a bit different. So here are my ten tips to help you get started making your own ELT videos:
1. Choose your audience
First, decide who your audience is. Are you making videos for a specific level of learners? Students in a specific industry? Students with a common mother tongue or nationality? The more you can tailor your videos to a specific audience, the more that audience will appreciate your videos. They’ll feel like you’re making videos just for them.
For example, I make videos for French-speaking learners at around B1 level who are learning English for both business and general purposes, but also because they’re interested in American culture. I’ve even created a few videos in French for them!
2. Decide if you want to script your videos
You can fully script your videos, create just an outline to guide you, or create videos with spontaneous language. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on the aim of your videos. For example, I script my videos to make them easy to understand and easy to subtitle. But sometimes, I do spontaneous, unscripted videos to give my audience experience with “real English”. The choice depends on why I’m creating that specific video.
3. Keep it short
For YouTube, 3 minutes is the optimal time. After around 3-5 minutes, people start clicking on other things. So there’s no need to make epic-length videos. If you do have a subject that takes longer to cover, divide it up and create a series of short videos. Then you can link to the next video in the series and increase your views. For example, sometimes I create 2-part series subjects like pronunciation. I often make these videos interactive, so they are longer. Instead of making one long video, I create 2 shorter ones.
4. Invest progressively in equipment
Even if the cost of equipment has decreased a lot over the past years, there’s no need to buy a lot of fancy gear to get started. Smartphones make great quality videos, and many people already have one. You can invest in some affordable lapel microphones, and work your way up to more sophisticated equipment, like a proper camera, lights, different microphones, props, etc. In my first video (which is horrible!), I used my computer to record sound & audio, and the lamps in my home for lighting. Then, I progressively got better equipment. Even today, it’s still quite basic.
5. Just get started
Your first videos will be full of flaws (see video above). That’s ok, because you can see what doesn’t work and then improve it for the next videos. The hardest part is just getting started because you want to create fantastic videos. That will come later! You’ll never progress if you wait until you’ve perfected your video-making skills to begin. In my first videos, the sound and lighting are bad. So first, I improved that. I noticed it was obvious I was reading my prompter next to the camera. So I repositioned it.
6. Learn how to edit your own videos
Both Mac and Windows have free video editing software that you can use to begin. Later you can invest in more sophisticated programs. You’ll have to spend some time learning to use the programs, but you’ll find plenty of tutorials on the internet. Your videos will be more engaging with some effects like sound, image, and words shown on the screen. I began editing my own videos using iMovie on my Mac. I later invested in Camtasia for around 100€. Now I can add my own special effects, like the images and text that appear on screen.
7. Consider outsourcing
If your budget allows it, consider outsourcing your video editing to a professional. You can find affordable, high-quality video editors on the site upwork.com. A professional editor will increase the quality of your videos, all the while giving you more free time and less stress. After trying to edit my own videos for a few months, I decided to outsource the video editing using Upwork. It’s just part of my business expenses, saves me time, and makes my videos better.
It’s fun to get fellow teachers, students, and other people involved in your videos from time to time. Plus, it’ll add a little variety, which your audience will appreciate. You can interview people about their job, ask a friend or colleague to appear in a special video, include students in the production, and more. Vicki Hollett is great at this, and in her videos, you’ll often find other English teachers doing guest appearances. On my own channel, I sometimes interview people that my audience will find interesting.
9. Get model releases
Even if your guest stars are your friends, protect yourself by asking them to sign a model release form. This is just a simple document where they say that they agree to let you use their image in your videos for whatever purpose you state in the document. They’ll understand, and for you, it’s just smart to be safe.
10. Get feedback from your audience
Whether your audience is online or in the classroom, feedback is the best way that you can improve your videos. Online, be aware that you’ll always get the occasional troll comment but ignore them and focus on the genuine feedback from your true audience. In the classroom, you can ask your students for suggestions. Your audience can give you great ideas that you never may have thought of! I often ask my online audience for their suggestions and feedback, and they’re happy to share. Some video topics come directly from requests I’ve gotten from audience members!
Christina Rebuffet-Broadus is the creator of Speak Better, Feel Great TV, which aims to help French learners boost their English and boost their career, as well as their confidence when speaking English. She owes everything she knows about making videos to Vicki Hollett of Simple English Videos and Géraldine Lepère of Comme Une Française TV.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and watch Christina's YouTube channel