Great news for EFL teachers and English native-speakers bringing up children in an L2 situation; there is now a quick, simple and best of all free way of watching the BBC iPlayer from abroad. ExPat Shield gives you a quick and simple way to get a UK I.P. address which fools the BBC player into letting you watch content from its website.

Expat Shield Lçogo

Note the word fools above though. Although you are not breaking any copy-protection (like on DVDs or software) and you are using a tool that has legal and legitimate reasons to be used (it gives you a secure connection for things like  transactions with your bank, stopping your passwords being stolen by tools like Firesheep etc) watching the BBC’s content from abroad is probably against the BBC’s terms and conditions.

There are other tools out there that do the same job, too (like VPNs) but i have never had any success with the free ones. They are either too slow to be useful, overloaded or simply don’t work. For those of you who want to give it a try, Ex-Pat Shield does work and is very simple and easy to use, too.

Basically you need to download the program from their website (you can get it by clicking this link here) install it on your computer (you might need to tell your anti-virus software that it’s allowed to install) then off you go. It took me 3 or 4 minutes only and I was watching the CBeebies content on iPLayer!

CBeebies Website

Obviously this will be great for my daughter growing up in Italy, I think it’ll also be really useful to Young Learners English teachers who’ll now be able to access content wherever they’re teaching, it’ll also be very useful for adult teachers, too as you’ll be able to use any of the authentic material available on the BBC iPlayer in your classes too.

A great, but simple TV lesson I’ve done in the past for example involves giving out TV timetables for the week to students, having a look through (possibly discussing the different categories of programme available) with a partner. You then ask the couples to decide on a programme to watch, they suggest their programme to the rest of the class and try to persuade them that it’s the best programme to watch (with all the rich language that can be drawn out for activities like this: “I would prefer to, don’t you think that, what about if we….” The lovely thing about this activity ios that for 10-15 minutes at the end of the lesson, you really could watch the programme that the class decides upon!

Have you got any ideas on how to exploit this material in your lessons? Would you feel uncomfortable using a “crafty trick” to access content in your class that would otherwise be blocked? Have you found another way of accessing online video content from sites like the BBC and ABC? Do be sure to let us know in the comments section!

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea whether this might even be questionable legally in some countries. if in doubt, please check before going ahead with trying this. I am of the opinion that this isn’t illegal, but I’m not a lawyer so my opinion isn’t worth a jot! If in doubt, don’t use it!