Video is a great tool to use in English language lessons. 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. Even examination preparation classes such as IELTS, FCE, and CAE could benefit from occasional short video clip activities.
There are so many ways to use video in the classroom, and below are a few ideas.
What happened next? (Improve listening, writing and speaking skills)
Firstly, present any necessary vocabulary for the English lesson. Then play a short clip containing 3 or 4 characters, ideally for only a few seconds or enough to provide a context. 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. Ask the groups to act out their dialogue. Address any language issues that arose as you normally would in an English lesson. Then play the next part of the video and the learners will see if any of them predicted it accurately. Perhaps they prefer their version? You could also give comprehension questions relating to the video.
What just happened? (Improve listening, writing and speaking skills)
This time, learners watch a short clip and try to write the dialogue leading up to it. The procedure is basically the same as above.
Silent clip (Improve writing and speaking skills)
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 listening comprehension questions.
Invisible clip (Improve listening and speaking skills)
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.
All English language courses
These activities are versatile. They can be used as lead-ins to the main content of English lessons, 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. There is a place for video on any English language course.
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.