Video Fun for Everyone


Well, I’ve added quite a few lessons that use video, so I think I better do a post on using video in the class.  Videos are a great way to spice up a lesson and add some variety to the class.  We live in a very visual world these days with our advertisements, TV, and movies.  The majority of language we come across in our lives includes a visual component.  Besides talking on the telephone, how often do you speak or listen to someone or something without actually seeing them at the same time?   Not often, right?  Using video can make your lessons more authentic and provide that oh-so-important contextual factor.

Of course, the first issue raised is how do you actually get video into my classroom.  Most schools don’t have Internet or any kind of video equipment.  This is just a sad fact of the conditions of many schools here.  You can try to persuade your school to buy a TV hooked up to a computer.  If you buy them used, you can get the whole shabang for under 300 lira.  However, I think we all know that, even at this cheap price, many schools are unlikely to fork over the cash.  I’m fortunate enough to own a laptop with a fairly large screen, so I lug my laptop back and forth to class on days we use video.  This is probably your best option.  Even if you have a small screen, if the students gather in close enough, it should be alright.  You don’t even need Internet in the classroom for this.  Simply load up a video from any of the video sharing sites out there at home (a great list of alternatives to YouTube can be found here on Ozge Karaoglu’s blog) and be sure not to close the window.  Even once you disconnect from the Internet, the video is still playable.  Another option is to download the video directly to your computer through a site like SaveVid. You’ll need a video player that plays MP4 files for these.  I use BS Player.

Even if you don’t have a laptop and can’t use video in class, you can still have students watch a video for homework.  Sometimes I’ll have students watch a video to prep them for the next day’s lesson.  You can also have them comment on videos, report on their favorite video, send links to a video with a explanation of why they like it, or perform a scene from a video with a partner or group.

The thing I like most about videos is that they come loaded with context.  It’s often difficult to create authentic context for language, but a video provides that automatically.  Students can see and immediately understand how and when language is used.  The video can be used to explain a new word or to help understand a grammar point.  Students see facial expressions, body language, and the surrounding environment.  All this helps them to understand what’s being said.

Video can also be used in many ways other than simply as a listening exercise with a video component.  Even beginners can benefit a lot from a video if used correctly.  Just check out all the lessons using Mr. Bean for elementary students that don’t even have sound (ESL Lesson Plans – V-Lesson 4)

With this post I basically just wanted to give some ideas of different ways to use video, but before I do that, I want to give a shout out to Mr. Jamie Keddie of TEFLClips fame.  He has a great sight with tons of innovative lessons using YouTube.  A number of the ideas listed below are found on his site.  So without further ado, here’s my top ten list:

1)  Have students watch a video with the sound off.  They then have to create a dialogue for the characters and perform it for the class.  After everyone finishes, they can compare it to the actual script.

2)  For advanced students #1 can be done as more of an improv.  Each pair or group of students will come up and speak for one of the characters in the video. I usually change students every minute to keep the pace up and to get more of a laugh.

3)  With the video turned away from the students, they listen to it and try to guess what is happening.  Afterwards, they can compare their ideas to the actual video.

4)  Students can perform the actual video in small groups with a script and, perhaps by the end of the lesson, perform it without the script.

5)  Half the class faces the video and the other half faces away.  The students watching the video have to describe what is happening in it.  You can give a handout for lower level students and they can merely check off items on a list that their partner mentions.

6)  To elicit or contextualize grammar.  Any video can be used to demonstrate before/after, when/while, relative clauses, present perfect with just, present continuous, past tenses, guessing or prediction with will and going to, prepositions of movement or place, etc.

7)  Create interest in a topic by showing a relevant video.

8)  Provide context for a speaking activity.

9)  Show a video in the students’ language and have them try to explain the content to you.

10)  Sometimes I’ll just use a short clip as a humorous way to end or begin a lesson.

In general, I like to keep my videos to clips that are 5 minutes or less.  I think videos should be used as a gateway to language use.  I often use them to accompany a listening to gain additional context or as some kind of preparation or prompt for a speaking activity.  I don’t think watching a movie in class really constitutes a lesson unless there are extensive activities that go along with it or follow it up.

I’ve got a number of video lessons up now that you can use here.  There will be more to come.

Here are a few other sites that also have video lessons:

ESL Galaxy
Free English Lessons Online

Some other links related to this post:

Using Video in the ESL Class
Bringing Language to Life
Musical English w/ Mr. Bean

Movie Trailer Lesson

Kalinago’s Susan Boyle Lesson

Other links:

Savevid Save vidoes from YouTube, etc.

Ozge Karaoglu’s Alternatives to YouTube.

What are some ways that you use video in the class?


  • By Darren Elliott, October 23, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

    Videos are magic! On a technical note, you can use anyvideoconverter (it’s free) to download youtube videos straight to your computer in pretty much any format (Windows media, .avi, .mp4, DVD ready). You can burn them onto DVD and play them through conventional players if you need to.

  • By Anita Kwiatkowska, October 31, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

    I’ve recently written two posts about using videos in the classroom so thought you might be interested.
    Off the record – where do you teach? And are you Polish aby any chance? :)
    I’m adding you to my list and wishing you lots of readers :)

Other Links to this Post

  1. What You Can Learn from my PLN Quiz #5 (July 9th) – Teaching Village — July 9, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

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