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The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

What’s it really like to teach the English language to students?

Published: 13 November 2013

English language teachers embarking on their careers can get a unique insight into their profession thanks to a series of free online videos from the University of Southampton showing real life full length lessons.

Lecturer Dr Julia Hüttner has completed a project with the Higher Education Academy to create eight hour-long recordings of lessons, mainly with 16-18 year olds. Some were recorded with international students at University pre-sessional classes, the rest at a sixth form college in Hampshire.

“While similar recordings are already available commercially, they tend to give an idealised picture of lessons where everything is perfect,” she explains. “Real life isn’t like that, things can go wrong and professional teachers know how to react to this by adjusting their lesson plans. We wanted to show lessons ‘warts and all’ to give student teachers a realistic picture of life in the classroom.”

Julia trained as a teacher herself and taught English and Italian in her home country of Austria before entering higher education.

The online resources for people involved in the education of language teachers and their students can be found on the website They contain eight 90 minute English language lessons, interviews with the classroom teachers on their contexts and classes along with teacher education tasks. In line with data protection requirements, interested education professionals need to register and get a password to views the videos.

The University’s Centre for Innovation in Technologies and Education (CITE) team worked with Julia on the project and filmed the lessons using two cameras to obtain different angles, but as unobtrusively as possible. Julia now hopes to extend the project by securing videos of English language lessons in schools and colleges overseas.

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