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Digital review: READY TO RUN

readytorun.digitallearningassociates.com

Pete Sharma delves into the rich library of video content from Digital Learning Associates

Ready to Run is an online library of short videos for use in language teaching and learning, incorporating support materials. This resource bank, which comprised 225 videos as of November 2020, is constantly expanding. Videos are pre-cleared for world rights and aligned to the CEFR scale of competencies. There are three levels of access: Video Star offers 10 free units as a taster; Video Pro provides 35 units; Video School offers full access and is of interest to institutions.

The videos fall into three main types. The authentic documentaries are a highlight, providing an impressive range of topics including Tutankhamon, the White House, volcanoes, graffiti, life in Bangladesh and much more. Next, the work of authentic vloggers provides areas with teen appeal, such as fashion and dance. These should prove popular with Generation Z. Finally, in the short ‘functional language videos’, actors discuss their reactions to a specific video in carefully graded dialogues. These aim to help students build their confidence in speaking and critical thinking.

Time-poor teachers will appreciate the downloadable, printable and editable resource packs for students and teachers. They provide lesson plans and ideas, and are built around pre-, during and post-viewing activities. Transcripts are provided, with highlighted target vocabulary. A recent, interesting development is the release of interactive units, which can be uploaded to a learning management system (LMS) for students to watch and complete at home in preparation for a lesson.

“An exciting new genre which avoids the well-known downsides of using raw, 
inappropriate material”

Digital Learning Associates (DLA) has done a good job of sourcing and re-working the original content to create graded authentic learning videos. This ‘levelling’ can involve the creation of new commentary scripts and pedagogically informed editing, ensuring a video is intelligible at a specific level while retaining intrinsic interest. Ready to Run is an exciting new genre which avoids the well-known downsides of using raw, inappropriate authentic material and the artificial nature of much language teaching material. Among the many positives are the option to access accurate subtitles, and the exposure to natural speech and a range of accents.

Flexibility of use is the key to success here. Teachers should feel free to select, use, supplement or adapt as appropriate. The material fits well into models

of flipped and blended learning, and regular blog posts announce the uploading of new material. The occasional typo needs attention, but this hugely impressive bank of videos is a rich source of material for language learning. Recommended.

Pete Sharma is a teacher and teacher trainer with a Masters in Educational Technology and ELT from Manchester University, with a background in business English teaching. He is a lecturer in EAP at Warwick University and an active consultant with many organisations.

Image courtesy of Library
Pete Sharma
Pete Sharma
Pete is a teacher and teacher trainer with a Masters in Educational Technology and ELT from Manchester University, and a background in business English teaching. He is a lecturer in EAP at Warwick University, and an active consultant with many organisations. Pete's book reviews are provided courtesy of BEBC: www.bebc.co.uk.
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