31 October, 2014

The English for Uni Roadshow

What is a good way to publicise something? One answer is: via a roadshow. A roadshow is a travelling event to publicise and showcase a resource to a large number of people in different places. The idea of a roadshow is to give people a taste of what's on offer so they want to learn more about it. Publishers, for example, may have roadshows to promote a group of their authors to potential readers. 

At a project managers' meeting a few months ago someone suggested that we have an English for Uni roadshow. That sounded good. However, a real live roadshow would mean taking the English for Uni project team and actors round Australia, and that was something we hadn't budgeted for. Then another suggestion was made: why not have a 'virtual roadshow'? What a great idea!

From that suggestion, we went on to film a virtual roadshow which promotes all the resources on our website and also introduces you to nearly all the team members, as well as many of the principal actors in the videos. We are pleased to announce that the English for Uni virtual roadshow is now live on the front page of the website. You can also see it on YouTube.

Creating the content was interesting. Originally we wanted to put a transcription of each person's words into the video, so you could read their words and listen to them at the same time. That made screen too cluttered, so we opted for a reminder of the English for Uni website address instead, and a key word in the top right hand corner. 

For Harumi Kaga,

for instance, you can see the word 'Japanese' in the corner,

while for Kareena Kapadia
there is the word 'prepositions'.

We hope that the English for Uni roadshow will be played on screens and monitors in educational establishements all round Australia, and even in other countries. If you would like a copy for your school, college or university, please contact us via the website!

24 October, 2014

The Ms Parrot DVD

I had no idea it was so difficult to 'author' a DVD! This technical process involves putting all our current videos onto a single DVD. The software to do this, though, is extremely expensive, and the whole process is very costly. That's why we've opted for a slightly lower resolution version that will allow all our videos to fit on one DVD. The result will be something like this:
Don't worry - the spelling mistake will be corrected! In fact 'Saving English Grammar' will also be renamed to 'Thanks a Million'.

What is really nice about this DVD is that the film maker has made a clever compilation of extracts from all six stories and put them in an opening screen that plays with the Ms Parrot theme. Viewers can then click on any of the titles below to play that particular video.

All these videos will be freely available online, and we will also upload them to Youku so our Chinese viewers can enjoy them. We're really hoping that our take on Fei Cheng Wu Rao will be big in China!

17 October, 2014

Movie premiere

Our new movies are nearly ready, and we're going to hold a premiere on 7 November. It's time to roll out the red carpet!

A premiere is a wonderful opportunity to thank everyone who's been involved. I think we all learned a lot from the experience; it was something totally different for many people. 

For instance, we filmed all the student audience reactions before we filmed the shows they were reacting to!That meant that they had to imagine what was going to happen on stage. They sighed at a love scene, gritted their teeth at the sound of some terrible music and muttered their concerns about a strange-looking musical act, all without seeing anything in front of them except for a few cameras. And they did a wonderful job!

The rest of the regular cast spent a cold day filming in an historic property in Adelaide. It looks so glamorous in the final version that you would never guess we nearly froze, as there was no heating in the area where we were filming!
The editing process is nearly finished, and that is a big job. I spent 3 hours yesterday with the film maker while he edited a 2 minute video. Each little caption of text has to be added separately and dragged into place.  It's a very long process.

The final version, though, is worth all the effort, and we're really looking forward to our cast party and movie premiere!

10 October, 2014

Video for All

I heard recently about the Video for All project funded by the European Union. Their website aims to provide examples of how videos are used in language learning. This is a great initiative, and a wonderful opportunity to share resources. 

For example, Ms Parrot and Harumi Kaga now have access to Camtasia software, thanks to the generosity of TechSmith, and we are hoping to develop some very short teaching videos to add to the English for Uni website. These could then be shared on Video for All.

Maybe you could comment on your own favourite language teaching videos and give us some ideas of what works best for you? Is there a particular length that you prefer, or a teaching style you like? What do you think about the Ms Parrot series? Please let us know your thoughts!

02 October, 2014

Interview with David Crystal

Ms Parrot and Harumi Kaga were lucky enough to talk to the famous linguist Professor David Crystal about the importance of grammar when they were all at the GAL 2014 Congress in Marburg. You can see the interview on the English for Uni website.