Video genres for the language classroom
Being a bit of a YouTube buff, myself, I’ve always been really keen on using videos with my students. So much interaction and such great ideas can come from just a couple of minutes (or even seconds) of audio-visual input!
We often use movie snippets or interviews in order to bring the outside world into the classroom, but my favourite videos are the ones that became popular and accessible via video-sharing websites – those usually created by Internet users rather than the conventional media.
These are the genres I particularly enjoy using in my lessons.
Nowadays we have access to the opinions and ideas of people from all walks of life, and a number vloggers – those willing and able to express their opinions online – have reached celebrity status, such as Charlieissocollike:
Given that we often ask our learners to discuss a range of topics in our lessons, why not allow them to see real people doing just that? Not only are vlogs a valid resource for the development of listening skills (just devise a pre-listening, a while-listening and a post-listening task), but they also provide an authentic language model. On top of that, the points made by vloggers could trigger great discussion in the classroom.
Vox pop interviews
From serious street surveys carried out by the conventional media all the way to amateurs simply hitting the streets and asking people about their opinions on a particular topic, the Internet teems with examples of vox pop interviews.
As people often tend to use similar structures and lexis to answer the same question, such interviews can be quite useful to help learners notice samples of real-life language. Take the following amateur video as example, and try to identify the language the interviewees used to give advice:
In order to practice a certain structure, we often ask our learners to produce a number of samples of that language item in spoken or written form. This can become rather predictable and meaningless over time. Compilation videos (“fail compilations” are some of the most popular on the web) can serve as inspiration in such moments, helping learners with ideas of things to say – and they can be quite entertaining as well.
Take this near-misses compilation video, for example. Learners would probably be able to come up with a vast number of examples of contributions using the third conditional (‘If he hadn’t left the car, he would have been hit’) or a combination of the past simple and past continuous (‘The man was walking on the street when a car almost hit him’) in order to describe the scenes:
Trailers are frequently used in the ELT classroom for their ability to convey a large amount of information on a film in a short period of time. A range of activities can be designed from them, including predictions on the plot and characters (which can provide opportunities for practice of speculative language) and discussion on the trailers’ effectiveness in captivating the audience (thus encouraging learners to use language to give opinions).
A twist I personally like to include when using trailers is using recut versions made by fans, which may challenge the learners’ background knowledge of familiar classics and result in a less predictable and more engaging experience. One example is this recut trailer of the all-time classic horror film The Shining: