Lang4Life Blog: 5 Ways To Use Video For Language Learning

For years language teachers have been using video in the classroom to light up their lessons and test the listening comprehension of their students. However nowadays the vast array of content available online means there are countless opportunities to use videos in different ways.

To highlight this fact, in this month's Lang4Life blog we've listed five simple ways that video can be used to effect in language learning.

Videos for comprehension

The most common way video is used in class is to engage the students and test their general listening ability.

The type of content used here is nonetheless very important; clips with too much noise can be difficult for students to grasp, while body language and other visual clues can give the false impression that the students have correctly understood the dialogue.

The length of the video is another important factor to consider. A very short clip leaves students with little time to tune in to the language, while an overlong video can result in students subconsciously tuning out.

TED talks, speeches and product launches 

These types of clips are great for students who need to improve their public speaking or presentation skills.

Not only do the videos contain the vocabulary students require, they also show how good English speakers use the power of intonation to deliver their message. Intonation is one area I see advanced level students falling short in time and time again, mainly due to the fact they are stressed and want the talk over as soon as possible. Some others also feel the need to talk overly fast for fear of someone looking down on their English. Showing how it's done in reality really helps to point students in the right direction.

TED talks and TEDx talks are particularly good due to the fact there are always English subtitles available, which can be utilised later in an activity. For self-study students, they are also a great way to check if the speaker's words have been interpreted correctly. The fact that there is a new textbook series titled Keynote that uses TED talks at the forefront of its learning method speaks volumes about how useful they can be.

Product launches with enthusiastic speakers, such as those presented by the late Steve Jobs, are other useful videos that can be used in a similar fashion.

Exam videos

Another useful example of useful content is the humble exam video – provided the source material is good enough.

Official exam videos recorded by the examination boards themselves help to show the students how the exam actually looks and feels like, while also giving them an indication of the minimum level required to pass that exam. Some videos, such as those available on official DVDs, also contain notes from the examiners that allow you to look into the fine details regarding the performance of the candidate.

On the other hand however, there are so many exam simulation tests done online and the quality does vary from video to video. Teachers will be able to spot these 'bad apples' a mile off, but that won't be the case for most students. Therefore it makes sense to stick to using the videos with official watermarks in the corner, such as the one embedded above.

Accent videos

Sometimes students will have a desire to become acquainted with a particular accent, and if it happens to be one you can't produce, video is the best way of bringing that language into the lesson.

One way that can be done is by showing various clips from sitcoms, dramas or media interviews featuring a person or group of people with one particular accent.

Another option, as shown in the video embedded above, is to find a clip of a voice coach explaining how to imitate a particular accent. This gives students the chance to learn about the specific pronunciation and intonation differences between different accents, which in turn can aid their understanding of that particular accent.

Videos to watch without sound

While video is generally used as a means of practicing listening, there are several other ways it can be used in class.

For example, provided a selection of cooking verbs is taught before playing the video above, the clip can be played without sound – paving the way for the students to right down or describe what is happening in the video itself.

The audio can also be played later to see if the students were correct with their answers.

Of course, the five ways of using video in class described here are just the tip of the iceberg – video is a vibrant and dynamic tool with a wide range of possibilities for both students and teachers to utilise.

Perhaps you have your own way of using video for learning? If so, please leave us your thoughts in the comments section! 

Are you teacher looking for work? Or a potential student looking to hone your language skills? Visit lang4life.com or email Lang4life using the address [email protected] for more information.

About Gregor Gowans

Gregor Gowans
The founder and editor of Wroclaw Uncut, Gregor has been running the website since its inception in 2012. A Wroclawian for almost 10 years, Gregor writes on a wide variety of topics including, food & drink, nightlife, local news and politics. He is also a regular guest on Radio Ram's Sunday lunch programme.