How to Use Video in the ESL Classroom

How to Use Video in the ESL Classroom 


Do you remember how exciting it was when the teacher wheeled the big TV into class? It felt like the school holidays had come early! Sure, you usually ended up watching a stuffy old documentary but it was better than yet another hour of book work.

Video has been inspiring excitement and motivation in students for decades. If you’re not using video in your English language classroom, you’re missing out on a wealth of learning opportunity.

Why Use Video?

Extensive research shows that video is a really effective tool for learning, particularly for English language learners. No matter the age of your students, it’s highly likely they will respond well to the combination of visual and audio stimuli.

Here are just some of the benefits of using video:

  • It’s fun and can help make a lesson more memorable
  • It’s great for visual learners, or students who have not yet learned to read and write well
  • It provides context to the language and brings the subject to life
  • The language used is often more natural, so students can hear the natural stress, intonation, pronunciation and rhythm
  • It’s excellent for practicing a wide range of language skills, beyond speaking and listening

Types of Video

You can use almost any type of video content in your lessons. From TV shows, films and trailers to documentaries, adverts, news clips, weather forecasts, sports events and funny animal videos – the list goes on.

Of course, the material you use will depend on the aim of your lesson and the age and ability of your students. You may also need to take into account school rules and restrictions.

Great content can be found on YouTube, Vimeo, English Central and the British Council website. You could also pick from your own collection of DVDs. For a more comprehensive list of video resources, check out this article.

Five Fun Video Activities


Using video in the classroom is only truly effective when the students engage with it. It’s not enough to just sit back and watch the screen, they need to be active! Here are five fun video based activities you can use in your EFL classroom.

How to Use Video #1: Dubbing

Students watch a video clip of a conversation with the sound off and in groups create the dialogue for the characters. You can then have the students perform their script as the video plays. To finish, you can watch the clip with the sound on and compare the original to the students’ versions.
This is always popular with students. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to improve confidence in both themselves and the language.

How to Use Video #2: Order the Events

After watching a clip, students are given a set of event cards. Each card contains one or two sentences describing events from the video. Students are then asked to rearrange the event cards into the correct order.

This reading-based activity is excellent for memory building and improving recall power.

How to Use Video#3: Buzz In

Put the students into teams. Before starting the clip, ask a question such as, “What object is [character] holding?” or “What is the colour of [character’s] hair?”. When a student knows the answer they ‘buzz in’. If the student is correct, move onto the next question, if they’re wrong replay the clip.
This activity tests the students’ power of observation, and encourages them to think fast.

How to Use Video #4: True or False

Students watch a video clip and write three sentences about what they see. Encourage the students to write a mix of true and false statements. Every few minutes, pause the viewing and ask a student to read a sentence; the rest of the class must decide whether it’s true or false.

This is a great multi-skills activity, ideal for advanced students. It tests their observation, writing, reading, speaking and listening skills, whilst encouraging creativity.

How to Use Video 5: What Happens Next?

This is another activity that tests students’ power of observation, reasoning and creativity. A very simple task: just pause the video and ask the students to guess (based on context) what will happen next.

Try Out Videos in your Classroom Today

We hope this article will encourage you to use video in your classroom and if you want even more information on the best ways to use video in your lessons, have a look here. As you can see it’s engaging and fun, both for student and teacher!


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