5 Cracking Ways To Use Video While Teaching ESL.

Video in the classroom

Shooting video

“Every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network in 2017.” – Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2012-2017

If Cisco is right, and they should be, because they basically run the infrastructure that runs the internet, then video is, by far, the most viewed content on the internet today.

In fact, they also predict that by 2017 up to 90% of internet traffic will be for video.

Why? Because humans love to be fully immersed and engaged in the content they consume, and apart from touch and smell, video does it all!

(And touch and smell are debatable.. just watch any Jackass film when they’re doing some really smelly and gross stuff, or get insane injuries, and be amazed as you gag and flinch in empathy. You don’t have to actually smell it, in order to “smell” it!)

Video really is the ultimate form of content for engaging a human.

So, with that in mind, we really should be using it for our class rooms while teaching ESL, and here are 5 ripping ways to use videos in an ESL/EFL classroom:

1. Use it for learning new vocabulary.

 Science is showing that context is everything when it comes to memorizing anything, and especially vocabulary, which is traditionally a dry part of learning.

If I’m given an engaging, comprehensible, real life scene, and I’m being given new vocabulary at the same time, I’m more likely to learn it, as the associations will be stronger.

If you tell me that the word “bus” is a bus, that’s cool, but if you show me people getting on and off a bright red double decker bus in London, and if an interesting event happens while on that bus, then your student is more likely to remember the word.

2. Watch more Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, and copy their techniques!

Yep, they’re kids shows, but they wrote the book on how to educate kids by getting them engaged in exciting scenarios. Study them, and then copy what they do in very simple forms and you can’t go wrong.

Blue’s Clues in particular has been created using validated science and is genius in engaging kids to learn problem solving techniques, and Sesame street is amazing for teaching beginning grammar and vocabulary.

Millions of happy, educated children in over 100 countries can’t all be wrong!

3. Use the KISS principle… Keep It Simple Stupid!

I get it, you’re not Martin Scorcese and so you don’t think you can do engaging video, but you can! All you need to do is come up with basic, memorable scenes, that incorporate only one or two new concepts and you’re in business.

The more complicated you make it, the harder it will be for your student to take in the new concepts and vocabulary, and so the less effective your video will be.

Sure it’s fun to come up with a bunch of subplots with complex characters and an Oscar winning reveal at the end, but you don’t have the time or the budget and it will be less effective, so keep it KISS!

4. Engage as many senses as possible.

We talked about mnemonics and learning vocabulary and you should make great use of them in your videos. Simply put, the more memorable the scene, the more quirky, weird and engaging, the more likely it is that your student will recall the lesson or vocabulary being learned.

So if the word being learned is “pie” don’t just show a pie, show a clown being hit in the face by a pie, or somebody biting into a pie and finding a worm inside.. doesn’t matter what, just make it memorable and engaging by engaging as many senses as possible.

5. Get your students to do videos too!

Everyone’s got a smart phone these days, right? So why not get your students making videos as well? Why not set up a Task Based Learning exercise with video as the output?

Getting your students to do a video is not only fun, it’s also engaging and challenging. Students will be nervous and stretched while trying to speak properly for the camera.

For extra fun, use those videos as a group to work out where people went wrong and how to fix it.

Great fun, and very useful as a learning tool, and you’ll be tapping into a format that humans clearly love to engage with.

Enjoy, and as always, let me know how you go, and any successes or challenges that you’ve had.. can’t wait to hear about them. :)

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