8 Tips to Use Video in the Classroom

Matt | Teach English: Videos | Friday, November 21st, 2008

Have you used videos, movies, TV shows in your classroom before?

Have you done it successfully?

I have used them in the classroom, very unsuccessfully, and have seen other teachers have great success using videos to help students to learn English.  I believe using videos in an ESL classroom has a lot of benefits:

  • Students can see and hear English in the correct context.
  • Fun and interesting.
  • Often use idioms and phrases (movies and shows like “Friends”).
  • Creates energy as it’s a break from a normal lesson.
  • Can help students learn how to use videos to help them learn, or review their English.
  • Gives the students an “authentic” English environment for as long as the video is on.

Here are 8 tips to help you use video effectively in the classroom.

1.Make sure video is level appropriate – Don’t pick “Prison Break” for beginner English learners. “Friends” would be a better choice, but this too could be quite difficult for beginners depending on how you planned the lesson.  As their is more physical comedy, friends would provide more entertainment.  .I find videos work better when students have a better grasp of the language – intermediate level/ upper waystage

2. Don’t play the whole show/movie continuously– Remember students need things to be varied every ten minutes thereabouts, so if you play a 20 minute episode, the students may be lost, bored or worst yet asleep by the end.  I’ve seen all three.  I’d recommend having some activities or breaks every 3-10 minutes.  Ideally, only show a maximum of 10 minutes of video a few times.  You will likely review the video 2 to 3 times so the students can see it again.

3. Preview the video – please!!!  This will help you know what you want to cover during the lesson, also you’d need to do this to determine the language and vocabulary used in the video segment.  Also, this could help you determine if the piece actually is suited for what you want to cover in your lesson. Which leads to…

4. Have an objective to the (video) lesson – just putting in a movie to kill time doesn’t count.  Do you want to review an informal dinner party in England (strong English accents) for your advanced (Threshold) level students?  Watch a clip from Notting Hill.  Do you want to review clothing worn in different seasons? Watch a different clip from Notting Hill where all four seasons happen within a 3 minute clip.  Do you want a video that reviews clips?Groundhog Day could be used. Like all good lessons, you need to have an objective to it for it to be considered a class and not simply free talk.  Even better…

5. Use video as part of a bigger lesson plan – this will can help you teach or reinforce something, but don’t use video as an entire lesoon.  (This is straight from my TESOL training, but sadly I have tried to use a video as a lesson by itself and it failed miserably).

6. Create a worksheet – Give out a worksheet to help the students review the vocabulary, idioms, phrases or whatever you want to teach or review in that video segment.  This could be a good takeaway for the students.  Also it can be used for your break every 3-10 minutes.  You can have 3 exercises on the sheet and take up one at a time.

7. Let the students lead the video session through – like this one a fellow teacher did with the show “Lost”.  I think this is the most effective way to get students interested into a series type program like “Lost” or “Frieinds”.  This teacher had the students fill in this form as a group as their video club progressed week by week.  It was a great way to get the students interested in the program and understanding it, because he only wrote down what they said.  He facilitated their learning.  Plus it gave a great review board and a visual for their own learning.

"Lost" student led sheet

8. Bring popcorn – create a fun environment.  Popcorn always works.

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