Welcome to issue three in our interview series where we explore the Secrets of leading Edupreneurs online. Today I’m delighted to feature the one and only Vicki Hollett from Simple English Videos.

It’s actually quite a challenge to summarise who Vicki Hollett really is. In light of what she has already achieved in her career I’d say that she’s an international pioneer in ‘everything’ ELT. She’s an inspiration to teachers everywhere, as she has experienced all aspects of English language teaching, writing, travelling and publishing. More importantly, she’s a warm, humorous, creative and wonderfully engaging person. She thrilled everyone at the previous round of the ELT MOOC on listening and pronunciation in WizIQ and we were all charmed by her polished performance, which was mixed with irrepressible smiling and light-hearted banter. You can find details of her presentation here.

The ELT professional who has lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East and South America, who has published coursebooks and training materials for Oxford University Press and Pearson, who has trained teachers all over the world and worked with the British Council and Cambridge ESOL,  is now building up an Online Video English Initiative.

She works with her husband,  Jay Silber,  creating videos for their You Tube channel and online Video English enterprise. He’s American, she’s English, and they have created some amazing videos based on American versus British English. They are a unique husband/wife team who highlight serious learning, cultural and socio-linguistic issues in fun, entertaining, and deceptively simple videos. No matter how experienced or professional one may be, personality is the name of the game; especially in the world of video and entertainment. This husband and wife team is irresistible and you’ve just got to love them.

I asked Jason R.Levine to share some words about Vicki as he has been working closely with Vicki and Jay for some time.

Vicky Hollett is the future of engaging ELT video in new media. She brings it all to the table: clever writing, masterful editing, polished producing, and-most importantly-a keen insight into what learners need from a video to understand and remember key language. Vicki and Jay Silber-her partner behind the lights, cameras and action of Simple English Videos-will make great strides in 2014. It is an honor and privilege to be working closely with them on their projects.

Vicki and Jay made Jason wear a suit for this 😉

From rapper to bank manager: Is it legal?

        Now let’s hear it from the lady herself: Vicki Hollett


1.  Which 20% of your work gives you the greatest results?

In the past it was writing course books, but it’s changing. Today it’s probably making videos.

2. You’re a big video enthusiast when it comes to language learning. Why?

I love that we can take the students out of the classroom and show the language in context.

3.  How hard was it to learn to make videos? And how do you do it?

I’m still learning but it’s lots of fun. I watch YouTube ‘how-to’ videos and ask friends for help.

4.  How can videos motivate learners?

I think story telling is a big part of it – developing characters students will care about.

5.  What’s the secret to making timid learners more confident?

Practice, practice, practice – so they can feel the progress. I think drama is useful too.

6. How can using drama techniques build confidence?

When students take on a role and play a character, it can help them lose self-consciousness.

7. Name one area of your work where you weren’t naturally talented but where you developed competence through hard work and vision.

 Script writing. I’ve learnt a lot about that from colleagues, looking at spoken corpora and studying socio-linguistics

8.Who has been your greatest mentor?

Oh, so many. But Cristina Whitecross is probably the biggest one. I’ve written about her here.

9.What’s your Ninja psychological trick to persevering when the going gets tough?

Work hard at fixing the things you can fix. Don’t worry about the things you have no power over.

10.What else do we need to know about you?

Oh absolutely nothing. But your students might find our website useful: Simple English Videos

If you have suggestions for people you would like to see covered here, tweet to me with the hashtag #EduWinfrey.

Enjoy and be inspired:)

Optimistic quote of the day:

Work hard at fixing the things you can fix. Don’t worry about the things you have no power over.

Sylvia Guinan

is an online English teacher, writer and blogger who facilitates professional development online. She uses brain-friendly techniques to help students and teachers around the world. She designs educational materials, develops courses, writes resource papers and publishes ebooks. Her work is the result of much research into the psychology of learning, as well as hands-on experience with multi-media technology.


  1. Vicki and Jay’s videos are some of the best ELT teaching materials around. Students enjoy them and, because they can listen and watch at the same time, remember the vocabulary or grammar points being taught. Try them out in class or give your students the links, you won’t regret it for a minute!

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