An interview with Dave Sconda
interview is with the one and only – Dave Sconda.
I've first encountered Dave's work through his pronunciation videos on YouTube.
They were really refreshing: funny and
Now, that is quite an effective combination!
The rest of Dave's work is no different. Fun videos that get the
message through: pronunciation, conversations, listening,
vocabulary, grammar, culture... you name it.
The man is talented and he's sharing it with the world :)
So I am very happy to have him answering some questions and sharing his
knowledge and experience.
1. What has
inspired you to become a teacher?
I had a few exceptional instructors when I attended university. They
inspired me to do many things: believe in myself, educate myself, take
action, appreciate certain aspects of life, read books, watch certain
films, discuss topics in a more analytical fashion, work hard, achieve,
and the list goes on.
The education field is a great place to be if you love the idea of
being educated. This is a place to grow, to enhance skills, to think
deeper, to ask questions, to better the mind. I was energized in this
A friend of mine grew up in Japan and attended an American school
there. She made money teaching English to Japanese students when in
high school. Later she attended college in the states, and she taught
Japanese students privately as a side job. I watched her teach a few
students and found them to be interesting. I really hadn’t traveled
outside of America at this point in my life. I was very intrigued.
Their interaction was different. I wanted to learn more about them. I
started asking my friend many questions about teaching, and offered
many ideas I had about methodology and approach to get her opinion. We
ended up teaching a few students together and I was hooked.
I looked in to graduate programs for teaching English to speakers of
other languages. I found every program in my general area and even
considered some out of state. I called Pepperdine University to ask if
they had such a program, since they had an ESL program at the time.
That phone call turned into my first university teaching experience.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was a very unique and
important experience for me. The director at this program was very
supportive of my new ideas for teaching English. He green-lighted just
about everything. It wasn’t easy. It was challenging and I loved it.
For my graduate thesis, I produced a live video conferencing program
where I taught live from Los Angeles to students in China and Germany.
I thought this was the direction I would go, but then I heard about
something called “video hosting.” This was the lead up to
YouTube. What? Free video hosting? I was sold!
Also, I love film and video. I’ve watch filmmaking since I was a kid.
After grad school, I wanted to incorporate my educational background
with video production. I also love being creative and entrepreneurial.
I acted (performed) quite a bit in college, and then directed some
short films and theatre pieces. I needed to pursue these interests of
teaching and film. Creating education videos was the answer.
mentioned that your purpose is "edutainment", meaning education which
is both enlightening and entertaining. How does that affect the way you
produce your materials?
had many “boring” instructors. I wasn’t going to be one of those. One
fact I knew about myself was this. In college, when I had a good
instructor, with a good sense of humor, I wanted to learn more. I
wanted to do the work. I wanted to come back and be a part of the
So I try to put together solid education with humor and some fun. This
includes improvising on my part. I want students to enjoy the process.
Using a green screen, interesting graphics, music, and sound effects
hopefully makes the education more stimulating and engaging.
4. What is
your favorite subject in English?
To teach? That would be in the realm of speech.
Presentations, pronunciation, speaking etiquette, speaking and culture,
and psychological issues that inhibit speech acquisition, are a few
areas of focus. I believe that speech education should be
multidimensional in order for students to understand and feel the
importance of being a good speaker.
is your favorite ever video (made by you)?
I made a video where I brought in a few actors to create short scenes
for a pronunciation video on the /w/ sound.
This was my biggest production for ESL. It included many effects and
took a ton of time to complete. It brought me back to my love of film
production. I would love to produce more material with this approach.
you tell us about EnglishMeeting.com? What
useful items can a student/teacher find there?
EnglishMeeting.com is a place for ESL students and teachers. It is
growing and will continue to grow. For students there are videos on
pronunciation, cultural issues, how to start conversations, grammar,
ways to greet people, vocabulary, and listening. There are other
teachers’ videos and a guide for ESL audio and video on the Internet
produced worldwide. I have an audio only section where students can
download podcasts I created and listen to some interesting discussions
on controversial topics. Believe it or not, students can call me
through my site by using a Google widget embedded in my homepage and
leave me an audio message themselves. They can also contact me through
facebook, which I have found to be very useful for connecting with
students and teachers.
Teachers can get a lot out of the audio and video guide too. They are
free to use all the videos and audio that are on my site for their
work. Some instructors may find my interview with Dave Sperling
interesting. I also have videos for teachers that are interested in
teaching English in another country. Some of this information can be
very helpful to teachers looking to gain insight to the mysteries of
teaching in a foreign land.
This is something I am very excited about. The EnglishMeeting Courses
are a place where students can work at their own pace anywhere in the
world. It is a real class with a beginning date and ending date just
like at a university. The students can interact with each other, watch
video, listen to audio, take quizzes, and get their scores back
immediately. I encourage them to watch, listen, and quiz themselves
repeatedly in the course. This approach helps them to learn material
much more deeply.
If they so choose, they can partake in live segments of the course.
They can see and hear me on a video screen and I can hear them. I run
the class and interact with all the students in real time! It’s truly a
global class. We have had students from all different corners of the
world working together within these live broadcasts. So far the
response has been very positive.
8. What are
you doing when you are not helping students worldwide?
I’m not helping them, I’m developing material to help them or
visualizing how I might teach something. I love doing this, so it is an
enjoyable pursuit. When I do have some time I take my dog for walks and
runs, go to the gym, ride my motorcycle in the canyons, learn more
technology, examine the stock market, and educate myself with some
excellent podcasts that I download weekly. I also eat and sleep a bit
surprises await us in the future? Any future projects or videos you are
As I get more support, the opportunities open up. I have a boatload of
ideas for education that I want to turn into reality. For now, I plan
to expand my online courses so more students can have access. I love
the live aspect and will have education disguised as games and
competitions to help students improve their skills while maintaining
smiles on their collective faces.
now, is there a chance you'll end up making movies in Hollywood?
now I get it. You’re a producer and this is your way of asking me to
direct. Well, let me think about… okay, I’ll do it!
If I could someday make movies with strong educational elements, movies
that make people learn, I would. Hollywood is going in a slightly
different direction now with the success of You Tube and social media.
3-D and interactive media is the future. I believe these new game
platforms like Microsoft’s Kinect offer huge possibilities for ESL and
education at large. Put it all together and you have a win-win
situation for business, students, & educators. Yeah, I would
like to pioneer it. I’d like to slam dunk it.
onto me. I am
a Hollywood producer trying to get a director.
Thanks a lot for doing the interview, Dave!
Now, while I'm trying to sign him up for a contract, I will leave you
with this video by Dave Sconda...