There’s nothing quite like a video to grab a teenager’s attention in the classroom. Well chosen videos can be fun, motivating and educational – and are often a welcome break from more traditional classroom activities.
Here we break down some of the key benefits of using video with your students, giving you some top ideas for your next class.
1. Videos engage students of all ages and abilities
Video has a huge advantage over reading texts, writing activities and listening exercises in that it’s instantly engaging. Students young and old are attracted to video and many even see them as a treat when used in class.
Whether a video is authentic or made specifically for an ESL audience, it has been designed to catch and keep your students’ attention. As all teachers know, this is a key part of a successful class. Once the students are interested in the content, they will be ready to learn and be receptive to the activities you have planned.
2. Videos motivate with authentic content
One of the biggest advantages of using video in class is its ability to motivate students. Knowing that they can understand a real person speaking English is a milestone for many students.
What’s more, it shows the language points your students are learning in action, giving them even more reason to pay attention.
Video also demonstrates that English is not just a subject at school; it’s a skill that has applications in the real world. And that can spark students’ imaginations!
Make sure to highlight your students’ success in understanding video content and ask them to reflect on how easy or difficult video activities are for them. It will help you plan subsequent classes and focus on student progress.
3. Videos provide context to help understanding
Unlike reading texts and listening activities, video provides strong visual cues. These help learners understand what’s happening – even when the language is hard to follow.
In some cases, you can even play videos without sound at first and have students guess what’s happening. This works in a similar way to a reading prediction activity – and helps prepare students.
Documentaries often also provide text overlays that share additional information with the audience. This, in turn, helps with general understanding authentic content which is key to students’ language development.
4. Videos expose students to a variety of language and cultures
Video offers unlimited opportunities to expose your students to different accents and dialects of English.
When students travel, meet new people or start working they are likely to speak with people from all over the world – and that will probably be in English.
It’s, therefore, a good idea to use video to expose students to a range of English accents. This will help them become aware that there is more than one variety of English and will help them get used to hearing English spoken in different ways.
What’s more, globally, there are many more people who speak English as a second language than there are native speakers. So it’s a good idea to expose your students to a variety of non-native speakers in videos too.
5. Videos introduce culture and new ideas
Videos can bring the outside world to students, introducing different cultures, new places and ideas. They provide a great way to integrate new content and language learning at the same time – giving students the opportunity to learn about a whole range of subjects and ideas, at the same time as learning English.
You can read more about content and language integrated learning (CLIL) in our article: The role of language teaching in the CLIL classroom.
How to choose the right videos for your learners
It’s important to select your video material carefully, considering the age, language level and interests of your students.
Younger learners tend to respond to cartoon-like videos with stories or fun characters, while teenagers and adult learners are more likely to be interested in documentary style films, humorous videos, or content that relates to their interests or work.
Of course, it’s also important to consider how advanced your learners are when selecting content – if the video content is too complex your learners will find it hard to understand and might lose motivation and interest. Conversely, if it’s too easy, they’ll also get bored.
It’s also key that you design and grade classroom activities appropriately. Even low-level learners can answer simple questions about complicated subjects – and “easy” video content can be used to spark high-level debate and conversation.
Tips and ideas on using videos in the classroom
Watch teacher trainer Amanda Davies as she shares practical ideas and teaching tips for planning and managing a lesson with videos.
After watching this training video, you will discover:
- more benefits of using videos with your teenage students
- how videos can support language presentation, practice and reinforcement
- practical and fun teaching ideas and tips for making the most of video lessons
The series is based on GoGetter course videos.Watch now!