Notes on Using Video in the Language Classroom
by Josef Essberger
Because it is so close to language reality - containing visual
as well as audible cues - video is an excellent medium for use in the language
classroom. It can be used in many different ways and for teaching or revising
many different language points. These notes are intended to help you think
about how you can use video in your classroom. They are not exhaustive, because
ultimately the ways in which you use video are limited only by your own
Types of Video
| Authentic || Made for Language
| Bought, or recorded from television.* |
- Feature films (fiction)
- Games shows (often based on words)
| Specifically designed for learning the target
language. Produced by all the major publishers or DIY. |
- General courses
- Listening practice
- Business English
- How to (eg presentations)
- mainly for higher levels
- no prepared workbook/exercises
- adapted to level
- practise specific structure/vocabulary
- come with work books/exercises
- cued with minutes/seconds
- rather unrealistic
- can be boring (esp. for teacher)
- date easily
* be aware of copyright considerations when copying any
Methods of Exploitation
| Playback || Language |
- picture with sound
- picture without sound
- sound without picture
- with subtitles (target/native)
- without subtitles
- eg tenses
- whats he doing/going to do/just done?
- retell the sequence
- eg prepositions
- wheres his hand?
- description (scenes/people/objects)
- general comprehension
- specific information (names, dates, numbers)
- discussion (before/during/after: opinion, body
language, acting, filming etc)
- prediction (guess the end/create interest)
- journalist's report
- critic's review
- Be fully conversant with the tape (contents, length, order
- Always check the tape beforehand: quality, format
(PAL/SECAM, long-play/short-play etc).
- Always check the VCR/TV beforehand: power supply,
connections, remote control, channel etc.
- Always try to work with a remote control.
- Make sure you are familiar with the VCR and its controls
(play, pause, rewind, volume, channels etc).
- Before the lesson: insert the tape, cue it and zero the VCR.
- Check the volume, tone and angle of view from different
parts of the room.
- Make sure you rewind to the right place. Take your time.
Nothing is worse than losing your place.
- Try creating your own worksheets tailored to an authentic
- Give students something to watch or listen for while the
tape is playing. This can get increasingly difficult or detailed with each
- Dont play a tape without giving an introduction or
setting the context (unless there is a good reason for not doing so).
- Let the tape do the work. Dont say yourself what the
- Dont play a tape for too long without stopping.
- Be sensitive and realistic as to what students can be
expected to memorize.
© Josef Essberger