Launching Griffin + Bell TV
Our second baby has arrived.*
This one is called Griffin + Bell TV. It's been brewing for even longer than 9 months.
Griffin + Bell TV is an online video tutorial service for students of English - as an academic subject, as a foreign language, and as a core life skill. In this blog I'll try to answer a few of the key questions about how the service works, and why Matt and I have poured so much energy into making it happen.
What is it, then? It's a subscription-based video tutorial website. Subscribers get access to all the video lessons we make. At present there are videos on metaphors, similes, rules of direct speech, using quotations, essay-planning, conditionals, commas, sonnets, slang and much more. Think of it like a channel: each month we'll be adding new videos, building an ever-developing resource for students of all ages.
When and why would I use it? I've heard many of my students say that English is 'hard to revise'. That's true, to an extent. But what if a student, prior to their 11+ or GCSE, could watch a whole range of fun, engaging videos reminding them of all the key literary terms, grammar pointers and essay planning tips? Useful right?! What if a student doesn't have a personal tutor, but has to write a story for homework? They could tune in to Griffin + Bell TV and watch a few videos about how to generate an idea, structure a story-plan or build suspense. A pupil who is struggling to understand a certain term, such as enjambment, could refer to our video on the subject. A child who loves learning could use the site to explore new topics beyond their age level. Somebody studying abroad could use the videos to develop and polish their written or spoken English. Essentially, it's a go-to place for getting reliable help with your language and literature schoolwork.
Who are the tutors? I'm one of the main ones! But we've also got several of our very best English tutors on board. They have many years of experience teaching English at all levels and - crucially - they are fun people to spend time with. I think the videos capture the magic of really good private tuition. They're not like educational videos of old with cheesy cartoons and clunky music. They don't dumb down. Each video centres upon a passionate, intelligent tutor explaining an important topic. But of course, there are jokes and cool graphics to help the medicine go down.
Why online tuition? Nothing matches the impact of having a private tutor who will sit down with you and talk through everything you are finding difficult. But for those who can't benefit from private tuition - whether that's due to location, scheduling or price - this is perfect. We want kids worldwide, kids from all types of schools, to benefit from the inspirational qualities of our tutors. And we love the idea that Griffin + Bell TV is portable: you can access it anytime and anywhere. Need to revise Iambic Pentameter on the school bus before a test? You've got it.
Why English? Matt and I are Oxford English graduates, book-lovers, writers and English tutors. We are passionate about getting kids excited about words and stories. English is a core subject: you're required to get an A-C in English GCSE to progress. So it's important. And across the globe, people are working to learn the language. Despite all this, there aren't a lot of great English resources on the web. Perhaps that's because it's such a subtle, complex, varied subject - it can't be 'game-ified' easily.
How can I engage? Once you've subscribed, you can start adding videos to your personal notebook. This is a place to store the videos you like best, or the ones you want to watch later. There are also PDF worksheets and reference sheets attached to most of the videos. You can print and work through those - with a parent or tutor if you like - and practice your skills.
Where next? We love the potential for Griffin + Bell TV to grow. We can't wait to add more and more videos. We have an endless list of topics we want to cover, from every type of punctuation, to vocabulary building exercises, to analyses of great literary texts. We also want to use it as a space to inspire creativity. I hope we will soon have videos from children's authors and actors who can bring literature to life, and inspire kids to read and write as a hobby - not just for homework.
So there we have it. Baby number two.
As ever, we're learning too. So, if you have any feedback, or would like to make requests for particular new videos, or even if you just want to talk about the concept further - we're all ears.
*Baby number one was a real, human baby, in case you're not quite sure what I'm going on about. She landed on the planet 12 weeks ago and is sitting beside me in a bouncy chair as I type. At the moment, all is peaceful. But if I were to have the temerity to stop bouncing her with my foot even for one second, there'd be hell to pay.