Using video in the classroom

Video is a great tool to use in classrooms. It can really get learners engaged in a topic, and is also a fantastic way to generate interesting and communicative group activities. It can be great for speaking, listening and even writing practice if used imaginatively.

There are so many ways to use video in the classroom, and below are a few ideas.

What happened next? (listening, writing, speaking)

After presenting any necessary vocabulary, play a short clip containing 3 or 4 characters, ideally for only a few seconds or enough to provide a context, and ask the learners to decide the dialogue of what happened next – after the clip ended. They can write the dialogue and then read or ideally act out the next scene. After all the groups have performed their dialogue, and any language issues that arose have been addressed, the next part of the video can be played and they will see if any of them predicted it accurately. Perhaps they prefer their version? Comprehension questions could be given on the video.

What just happened? (listening, writing, speaking)

This time, they watch a short clip and try to write the dialogue leading up to it. The procedure is basically the same as above. Silent clip (writing, speaking) Learners watch a clip with the sound off, and write the dialogue for a clip in groups, and then act it out. After giving correction and feedback on any language issues, play the clip with the sound on and allow learners to listen and perhaps answer comprehension questions.

Invisible clip (listening, speaking)

Hide or obscure the screen so learners can only hear the dialogue. From the dialogue, which will have sufficient clues if they listen carefully, they have to decide what is happening. 

What is the advert about? 

Everyone knows some adverts are very obscure, and it can be fun to guess in groups what product or service the advert is for, and then play it to the end to find out.

These activities are versatile. They can be used as lead-ins to the main content of the lesson, as ice-breakers for a new class or as main activities if the clip and any “performance” focuses on the target language. They can be interchanged, joined together or for a warm up or a lead-in perhaps just one stage could be used.

When talking about video clips, it is probably necessary to point out that the clips need to be SHORT. They may need to be played a few times, and longer clips could take up too much time and be quite boring if they are too long. As always, we need to keep the learners as active and communicative as possible, and provide ourselves with plenty of opportunities to give correction and feedback.

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