Video Lessons Made Easier

In my book Teacher Tools, I open the chapter “Movie Time” with an email I received from a teacher who said that not only him, but “thousands of workmates don’t have time to prepare materials or to follow the recipes that many authors of books and/or presenters of workshops give us.”  I go on to say that if the reader sympathizes 100% with Darcy, the teacher who wrote the message above, using movies in class may not be such a good idea after all:  selecting video material, designing the worksheets, editing, setting up the video equipment in class, it all takes time. Sometimes, more than the class itself.

Although this is still true concerning some of the material I presently use with my students, there are websites nowadays which can make our lives much easier. Short and often interesting videos are turned into full lesson plans and made available to teachers worldwide.

These are some of the websites I find particularly interesting and useful: run by teacher, trainer and author Kieran Donaghy, Film-English has become a very popular resource with over 2.5 million page views a year. It has won various awards. Its lesson plans are often based on topics which can lead to a lot of debate, but most lessons are aimed at intermediate-level students and up. Although Donaghy suggests a small donation to help cover the expenses of maintaining the website, he doesn’t keep anyone from having access to his lessons or downloading his worksheets. A great tool made available by Claudio Azevedo, a teacher at the Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia. It has also won several awards. As the name of his blog suggests, Claudio turns movie segments into grammar activities because, he says, teachers use movies for many purposes, but grammar. The videos are really interesting, useful and well organized according to grammar topic and level of proficiency. The most professional of the three options, English Central offers several tools to the teacher, such as the possibility of organizing students into classes, sending them materials to watch and then following their progress. A great way to make students co-responsible for their learning. A registration is required, but most of the material is free, except for a few features, such as voice-recording, which are charged after the trial period.

Even with the help of these websites, preparing a video class usually takes more time than usual.  But students’ motivation and involvement definitely make the effort worthwhile.

Vivian Magalhães

Vivian Magalhães has an English teaching degree from UFRGS and a Master’s degree in Education from PUC-RS . She is the co-author of all the books in the series “Cem Aulas Sem Tédio”, as well as the author of “Teacher Tools” and the webmaster of In over thirty years of English teaching, she has taught children, teenagers and adults in many different settings. Nowadays, Vivian runs her own English school and also works as a freelance teacher trainer.

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