Just a few short years ago, language teachers would have fallen over backwards at today’s easy access to videos. *Cue applause for the internet*
Yet, videos are an often under-used tool in our classrooms. It’s time to change that! When used with a solid rationale, videos are entertaining, motivating, educational, stimulating, and a good jumping off point for endless conversation. Here are six short, easy-to-prepare activities to utilize videos in your lessons.
1. What’s going to happen?
Choose a clip with some sort of suspenseful moment. Pre-teach any necessary vocabulary, then play the video and stop it at the cliffhanger. In pairs, students talk about what they think will happen next. Share a few ideas as an open class, play the rest of the video, and see who guessed correctly.
2. Conversation memory
Choose a clip containing a dialogue between two people, A and B. In pairs, each student must remember one side of the dialogue. Explain that student A must remember all that character A said, whereas student B must remember character B’s side of the conversation. Play the clip through twice. Students then reenact the scene as best they can. The idea is to have fun – and improvise where necessary!
3. Back to the screen
Choose an interesting clip of around one minute, with a clear story or sequence of events. Before class, write these events onto cards. In class, pre-teach any difficult vocabulary and distribute one set of cards per pair. Arrange the chairs so that student A is facing the TV or computer, and student B—holding the set of event cards—has their back to it.
Play the clip with the volume off. Student A, watching the video, describes what is happening to student B, who must reorder their cards accordingly. When the video ends, the students watch again with the sound on, and check the order of their cards. Repeat with another short clip, this time allowing student B to describe first.
4. Silly dubbing
For a light-hearted activity, show your students a clip with the sound off. Tell them they will work in pairs to create a script that dubs the clip. This is especially fun when the subjects are not human or adult (e.g., animals or babies). Give students time to work, then act out the scenes as an open class. It’s very entertaining to see what different scenarios the students come up with!
5. What are they like?
You’ll need a still in which one person is the focus (perhaps from an interview situation or film). Pre-teach or revisit vocabulary relating to describing people and expressions of speculation. After playing a short segment of the video, students share their initial perceptions with a partner (age, personality, marital status, likes and dislikes, etc). Join pairs into small groups and ask students to compare and contrast their speculations.
6. Soundtrack guess
Choose songs from several different films; ensuring each represents a different genre, and that none of them is a famous or iconic movie song.
While listening to the songs, students note down what they think is the genre of the film and what is happening in the scene in question. Students compare their thoughts with a partner, then proceed on to the next song. When each song has been played, students watch the original scenes with music and compare ideas.
It’s time to take advantage of the wealth of video content we have at our fingertips! Students will love the change of pace—and you’ll love having another tool in your teacher toolbox.