We are all the Netflix and YouTube creatures, and kids are no exception: their desire to embrace video content to the fullest appears to be as unavoidable as worrying for parents and educators.
Everyone is mixed-up about whether to blame or tame their eagerness to catch up on controversial YouTube trends or suggestions on other platforms. Let’s face it: such content is here to stay, and we as teachers need to reconsider our attitude to video as an educational, not only entertaining tool. So, what are the opportunities?
Stepping into the era of edutainment
Modern classrooms set specific challenges both for professional educators and newbies: not only they have to reflect on how to adjust the cutting-edge teaching techniques but dig deeper to reveal the insightful side of the content their students consume daily. And here comes the reasonable question regarding the overall content value: what is junk food for their brain and what is not? The concept of edutainment stands for the conscious blend which enables learners to be fully immersed in the listening-to-natives experience without leaving cognitive blind spots in their foreign language acquisition and its audial part. The benefits of being exposed to different accents, plot-discussing, and a reflecting routine can also be brought together to make learners think outside of the box and upskill their creative vision.
However, plunging into research on what video content may contribute to the students’ listening and thinking skills is often associated with difficulties in finding these edutaining gems. Evaluating video content is a new must before attaching it to your online classroom or showing it in a real one.
We’ve made a list of guidelines: following them may ease the pressure while searching and judging whether the video will or won’t work for your students and you:
- the video clearly poses issue(s) to consider and relevant to the lesson aims and outcomes;
- the content of the video represents accurate information;
- the author of the video is an educational expert or/and has enough experience and qualification to create and distribute such content;
- there is a balance between educational and entertaining components that makes it valuable and inspiring for learners;
- supplementary visual materials used in the video (various graphs, pie charts, illustrations, music) don’t distract the learner’s attention and enhance the comprehension of the main message;
- the video contains a summary to help the learner highlight all the essential points;
- the video can be used in the classroom without further legal challenges imposed by its creator on school or individual edupreneurs.
All the above-mentioned guidelines are equally applicable to any content teachers ingrain into the lesson’s canvas. Some educational websites do this checking-evaluating routine instead of teachers so that they can use the content without spending hours verifying every single piece of material. TedEd.com and theschooloflife.com are the most popular of them.
Thinking, not just listening
Video-based teaching is having its moment of practical rebirth. It is highly praised due to the creation of tangible difference in impacting on students’ auditory skills as well as raising the generation of creative (and critical) thinkers. Yet no matter how convincing the strategy of using video content may sound, there is still room for reasonable doubts and worries even for those educators who are all about the student-centered approach. Is there real evidence that using video in a classroom enhances creative thinking skills and overall cognitive development? How to bridge the gap between purely listening skills training and the critical evaluation of the content (since not every learner may accomplish this task without a teacher’s assistance)?
While we are discussing these possible flaws, kids aged 3-8 claim that watching YouTube is a better learning tool than other media content. Despite their personal beliefs, researchers are still not sure whether young children fully grasp the educational component of their watching-listening experience. It proves the necessity of extra mentoring and assisting during the edutainment practice.
Pressing play is not enough
Audiovisual learning, through the simulation of the foreign language environment, brings the real-world language and enables learners to experience its authenticity with the help of a teacher. The issue of bridging the gap between pure listening and reflecting here becomes even more urgent since any impediments in decoding the audial component of the video may lead to misinterpretation of its visual part. As the audial and visual dimensions are intertwined, certain steps should be implemented to train comprehension. Undoubtedly, teachers need to guide students carefully
through all the stages while using video in the classroom: pre-viewing (when the topic and key vocabulary are introduced to enhance students’ understanding and engagement), while-viewing and post-viewing (includes verification and review of the examined content).
Following practices can be implemented to make the most of this routine and amplify the effect of listening and thinking skills’ training altogether:
- give a brief description of the video and use worksheets if needed to map out further activities in advance so that students can skim the tasks to be carried out before, during, and after the viewing;
- encourage students to take notes while watching: they can write down all information that they will find relevant while viewing to boost cultural comprehension and lexical knowledge;
- making pauses when needed not only gives the learners chance to check their comprehension but more insights into cultural diversity. Also, you can provide students with feedback or give them hints regarding the specific information to process (for instance, accents and definitions’ peculiarities);
- practice multiple viewing: the video may be played twice (especially when students find it difficult to decode the words and their meaning in context). Two sessions are a must when the message is complex and/or the duration of the lesson isn’t sufficient to cope with the task. Another reason for it is to stimulate learners’ imagination to predict the end of the story.
Reasonably regarded as a chance to escape from rigorous curriculum frameworks, teaching through watching videos has an immense impact on the development of learners’ auditory and reflecting skills via authentic language input that deepens their knowledge about a subject. Additionally, this method demands students to elaborate on their own style of comprehension in a real context, and that is definitely the best response to the issue of bridging the gap between listening and critical processing of the content they consume. Make this practice a part of your teaching routine and enjoy the benefits!
Speaking activities are, obviously, essential for English language speaking classes. A lot of students join classes particularly to develop their communicative competence, become more fluent, versatile, adaptable, and confident communicators in English. However, designing speaking activities might be time-consuming and nerve-wracking for any teacher. We have prepared a memo with superb ready-made speaking tasks that will make your student talking. Download it here.