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The Power of Authentic Experiences: Incorporating Video into English Classes

The Power of Authentic Experiences: Incorporating Video into English Classes

When we use language, we’re not just getting meaning from the words we hear. We also use visual cues to tell us what is happening. These could be the gestures and body language of the speaker, or even the physical environment in which the conversation is taking place.

Visual aids and multimedia are excellent tools for bringing the real world into your classroom, helping to make language learning an immersive experience where students can interact with the content and make meaningful connections between words, concepts, and real-world contexts.

Here’s one way that visual materials can bring your classes to life.

Incorporating Videos and Movies into English Classes

You probably already use videos in your classes already. Depending on the curriculum you have to follow, they might even need to be authentic and reflect cultural traits that students need to know about. Authentic videos can often be intimidating for learners though, with their use of high-level language and unpredictable plot twists and surprise elements which make them so entertaining.
But watching a movie quietly in a cinema isn’t the only way we watch videos. Sometimes native speakers watch videos without trying to understand the language in them, but instead as a springboard for further discussions. Think about the videos you share with your friends and family on WhatsApp, Instagram or TikTok. The interesting language isn’t always in the videos themselves, but in the way you chat about them.

Students often do this same thing in their own languages, so if you can get them to do it in English, you can have a lot of fun.

Let’s look at one recent viral joke, this video which asks the question "How often do you think about the Ancient Rome?"

It’s a pretty random question and one to which there is no serious answer. It’s a great starting point for a conversation though.

To begin, put students into small groups, as if they were in a WhatsApp group and have them watch the video. Then get them to start a chat around it. Have them either write or say short messages in response to the video, as if someone had put it in one of their groups, and they were talking about it in English. You could even assign roles to students, for example one of them is completely unenthusiastic about the video and wants to change the topic, or someone from a different cultural background and doesn’t get the joke or doesn’t even know what the Roman Empire was. The possibilities are endless. Tell students that their chats must be entertaining to them, and once they finish, have them share what they’ve produced with the rest of the class, where you can do error correction or explain new language points that come up.

The main message of this post is that visual materials don’t have to be used in a particular way. Think about the ways that students use them in their own lives and then try to recreate that experience in your class.

For more tips on using videos in the class, check out this post from Erin with six simple activities using video that can spice up your class.

As always, please do let us know if this blog inspires your teaching by sharing your thoughts with us in the chat or on social media.

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