Movies and videos in the English as a foreign language classroom

If you’re looking to expand the role of movies and videos in your ESL classroom, what better way to expand students’ communication skills, grammar, and vocabulary than by using popular movie clips? Try using these seven tips to stimulate student motivation while enjoying a favorite hobby of children and adults alike, watching short scenes or clips from popular movies.

1. Use pre-visualization activities

Before the video, familiarize your students with the topic and grammar through preview activities. A variety of these may include puzzles, photos and pictures, short games such as “concentration” or TPR activities, a story or anecdote, or activate the pupils’ schema in various other ways.

2. Ask students to complete a chart while looking at

While watching a short video or movie segment, students may fill in key information in a box. Items such as character names, occupations, family relationships, clothing, and environments can be easily registered in this way. This allows students to focus more on communication and less on writing.

3. Select a grammar point demonstrated repeatedly in the movie clip.

There is no need to leave grammar out of a video lesson or scenario. If a usable point or grammar structure is repeated or highlighted during the movie clip you plan to use, all the better. Just remember to pre-teach that grammar or structural element, even a class or two before the video, so it’s recognizable in context.

4. Have a list of six to eight lexicons

Select a list of six to eight or ten vocabulary words, idioms, and expressions from the movie or video clip you plan to use. Teach them in advance during the preview stage of the lesson. When students hear them used in context during the video viewing session, the lexicon will have an additional impact.

5. make use of visual information

A popular movie clip is an audiovisual experience, so use it as such. As students observe and listen to general and detailed spoken information, include visuals so that they, too, can browse and scan. Many? How much? When? Where? Who? How and why are good starting points for capturing visually presented information from the movie clip or video segment.

6. Allow students to select their preferred movie clip

It can be a big dilemma. There you have maybe two or three or more movies to choose from, but you’re not sure which one your students would prefer. So I have an idea, you choose, let them do it. Take three movies, for example, show students only the first five minutes of each and then let them choose which one they would like to work with. If you have a clip in mind from each of the movies, show each clip and give them a choice. You can develop your activities and lesson stage plans with the confidence of having the interest and motivation of your students.

7. For post-viewing discussion:

If not addressed during the pre-viewing activities, now is the time to talk about your favorite actors, actresses, plots, and similar stories from other movies, and which ones might be different or better results for what you see. Stage performances, altered dialogues, and plot twists that your students can think of. Be imaginative, creative, bold, or even fun, but get them to communicate about their experience.

Prepare a worksheet

You can prepare a one or two page worksheet to photocopy and use by the students for the video session. Alternatively, students can copy the format into their notebooks. Just make sure you plan your pre-view, during-view, and post-view activities well, and your video clip-based English lesson is sure to win a prize.

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