Language learners learn the best when they are interested in the activities prepared by the teacher. Video lessons can be a great tool to engage learners and give them an opportunity to develop language skills through visual and audio stimuli. By choosing the right video material and by offering well-planned video lessons to students (students work with the video material for the whole lesson), we will be giving them an alternative (and often more entertaining) way to experience language outside of grammar explanations and textbook exercises.
Here are the stages and a number of nice ideas to deliver interesting video lessons.
Step 1 – Choose a relevant video
It’s difficult not to choose videos being tempted by videos with great special effects or your favourite actor, but teachers need to choose videos which teach language necessary to students and according to the syllabus. While picking up a video one must pay attention to its length (usually from 3-6 minutes), style (with a monologue, a talk between two or three people), and the challenge level (the video must be challenging for students but within their level).
- ESLvideo is a great site which offers a big range of videos with quizzes.
- TED Talks is another great platform full of videos related to various topics.
- Film English is a great resources for video lessons. It has a detailed guidance on how to deliver each video. I personally use this site very often.
- English Club has great activities for all the videos.
- TubeQuizard has a number of subtitled Youtube videos with quizzes based on them.
- Advertising spots are another great way of video resources with a focus not only on language use but also on entertainment. You can find a lot of advertising spots on Youtube. This site offers a number of old commercials which can be a great source for lessons. Old commercials tend to have more dialogue spoken rather than new ones. Therefore they may be more suitable for video lessons. Find more ideas here.
Step 2 – Activate students’ background schema and organize vocabulary work
As any ordinary lesson, video lessons also need a well-thought lead-in to prepare the learners. When doing listenings and readings with your students, it is important to take time at the very beginning of the lesson to activate your students’ experiences with and knowledge of the topic of the listening. Different strategies (using visuals, realia or everyday objects, discussion, readings etc.) can be used to help students relate new information appearing in the recordings to their existing knowledge.
The teacher may board some unknown words on the board, complete worksheets, provide the students with cards with the word explanations and ask them to match those cards with the words, fill in the blanks.
Vocabulary work might also be done after watching the video, just don’t forget that in such cases listening tasks shouldn’t include new for students vocabulary.
Step 3 – Provide students with context clues
Context clues are the best example of a good pre-listening activity for video lessons. For example, you tell your students ‘’In this video Jack and Alice meet at a conference and negotiate a deal”. That may not be an example of an effective lead-in into the context since you give the main information by yourself rather than trying to generate it from the students. Instead, you could ask them the following questions:
- Where do you think this conference is? Europe? Asia? The USA? (screenshot of any visual sign which may help them to get the place)
- What professions do Jack and Alice have? (their photos which focus on their clothes. Clothes tell a lot about people’s profession)
- How is their negotiation going to be ended? (characters’ facial expressions)
Step 4 – While watching activities
- Before using the video in the classroom, you watch it a couple of times to notice where actors pause, when they have a reaction to something or in which cases the conversions seem to shift. If you choose the right places to pause, you will give the learners the opportunity to use critical thinking to guess the scenes.
- If you pre-taught some key vocabulary words and expressions, you can type these up and cut them out so that each bit of paper has one key term written on it. Give each pair of students one set of words. Students compete with their partner to grab each word as they hear it come up in the video. This a great while watching activity.
- Create a short list of true / false statements about the video and ask your students to tick the true ones as they watch.
Find more ideas in the video below:
Step 5 – After-watching activities
After watching the video, students are given a list of questions/statements to discuss. Surely, the statements/questions must be video related. The aim of the activity is to personalize the material which has been learnt. Suppose, they are watching a video where a woman discusses the challenges of modern life for a working woman. The post-viewing discussion statements/questions may be:
How do women in your country handle their work-life balance?
What advice will you give them to have a more balanced daily routine?
Use video materials to incorporate into the lessons when you feel that the students are sick and tired of the monotonous learning procedure.