According to Cambridge dictionary definition vox pops are the opinions of people recorded talking informally in public places. ‘Vox populi’ is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘voice of the people’ (wikipedia). These short interviews are valuable material in ELT since they offer a number of considerable advantages.
Benefits of vox pops
- Vox pops provide students with authentic materials. They give opportunity to listen to variety of accents and voice features of not only professional actors and speakers who make recordings for esl books.
- They enable learners to develop not only listening but also other skills and subskills. Teachers can organize discussion on the spot or writing tasks as a follow-up. Grammar or vocabulary presentation can be based on vox pops as well.
- Vox pops are more engaging than audio recordings. They are short therefore allow teachers to save time in the lesson.
- They provide some cultural information, for example, how real people living in New York look like.
How to use vox pops in the lesson?
Almost all books of the latest editions contain sections with vox pops. These videos are usually accompanied by elaborate worksheets.
Typical stages of using vox pops in the lesson are the following:
- pre-watching (activate schemata)
- watching for gist and comprehension checking tasks
- watching for detail and comprehension checking tasks
- post-watching (discussion of the same questions which people in the video were asked)
To bring some variety add more activities. For instance, listening for specific information (complete the gaps with numbers) or listening for inferring (Why do you think Bill quit his job?). Draw students’ attention to the most useful collocations in the video and do some vocabulary work. If you are pressed for time in the lesson, ask learners to answer the questions in writing at home.
Vox pops are really challenging tasks as they contain all features of connected speech and your students should be good at decoding them. Remind learners that they don’t have to understand all the words. For lower levels it is a good idea to explain that students need to be exposed to real language and gradually get used to it.
Apart from vox pops from books, plenty of video interviews are available on YouTube. Find interviews in the street on required topic and create your own tasks. Grade the task according to your students’ level not the video. For elementary students set the easiest task. For example, how many people talk, which questions they answer or how many people liked the show etc.
Moreover, vox pops make good fillers or warm-ups. In this case skip the checking of understanding and focus solely on speaking. Set the task such as: Watch the video and say which speakers you agree with and why.
Inspired by what they see, students can make their own vox pops in the lesson by interviewing several people and recording them with their gadgets. Watch the videos together with a whole group and vote for the best variant.
Do you use vox pops in your lessons? In what way? Please, share in the comments below.