Creating specific lessons for different language skills is definitely challenging and time consuming for English teachers. However it is definitely worth applying audiovisual techniques for creating motivating and meaningful contexts and materials. Different types of media in print, audio and visual formats can obviously become the most effective way of creating meaningful context for language teaching provided that a teacher develops proper activities based on television and radio programmes, authentic films, newspapers and magazines.
Generally video activities are divided into 3 main types or stages:
1. Pre-viewing. Activities done before watching the video. They help prompt student schema and background knowledge. Often a way for the teacher to assess student knowledge and interest.
2. Viewing: Students have a task while watching the video. They perform tasks and activities during the video, either with or without the teacher pausing the video.
3. Post Viewing: After watching the video, the students practice the language forms and vocabulary encountered in the video. Students might discuss, retell, roleplay or complete exercises during this stage.
1. Student interviews/polls with the help of questions prepared by the teacher to facilitate the understanding and acquisition of new grammar structures.
2. Problem solving and reporting possible solutions to the class.
3. Predicting the film content by examining the title of the film.
4. Brainstorming questions or eliciting information that will link students' past experiences or background information with the film.
5. Writing a summary based on teacher-created questions, a very short lecture summarizing the main points of the film or a «skeleton» of the lecture notes with blanks for students to fill in.
6. Gap-filling exercises introducing students to the topic of the film.
7. Dictionary/vocabulary work. Students can be introduced to important words/phrases needed for better comprehension of the film through dictionary or vocabulary exercises.
The primary purpose of viewing activities is to facilitate viewing of the film. More specifically, these activities help students deal with specific issues and focus on character or plot development at crucial junctures in the film. The activities listed below, by no means an exhaustive list, should be viewed as possible options to be used while showing a film.
1. Directed listening for general information or specific details is considered crucial for comprehension.
2. Gathering information while viewing the film or videotape.
3. Interrupting a film in progress to clarify key points in the thematic development of the film, to discuss the content of the film and to speculate about what will happen further on in the film.
4. Screening the film repeatedly to make sure students understand all the aspects of the film. However, the length of the film and the pre-viewing and post-viewing activities may make this option undesirable.
These activities are meant to stimulate both written and oral use of the target language, utilizing information and/or insights from the film. The entire class now has a shared experience and can easily participate in these exercises. It is important to design post-viewing activities that extract the main ideas/concepts/issues from the film since the small details may have been missed. Post-viewing activities can easily lend themselves to writing practice, speaking practice, or both. Ideally, the two skills can be linked, allowing students to use the information from a speaking activity, for example, in a writing assignment. Listed below are some possible post-viewing activities.
1. Agree/Disagree/Unsure activity;
2. Alternative endings;
5. Film summaries;
6. In-class polls or interviews;
7. Ranking/group consensus;
8. Paragraph organization. A number of exercises will help students with paragraph organization:
a. After eliciting the main ideas of the film, students can list details that support those major issues; these main points and supporting details can be used to write a paragraph or composition.
b. Using printed summaries of the film, teachers can cut the summary into «strips». A strip can comprise one sentence or an entire paragraph. Students can practice organizing paragraphs or parts of paragraphs by assembling the strips into logical order, thereby reconstructing the summary.
c. Based on a close examination of an introductory paragraph, focusing on certain features of the film, students can identify ideas to be developed in subsequent paragraphs. Once the main ideas of subsequent paragraphs are identified, students can compose those paragraphs.
10. Using notes for writing practice;
11. Role plays/simulation games;
Donaghy and Whitcher distinguish three types of pedagogic goals: language-based, communication-based and comprehension-based.
1. To achieve language-based goals they suggest pre-teaching language structures — the most challenging grammar or vocabulary structures which appear in the narration and/or dialogue of the video at the pre-viewing stage.
- A common exercise here is to give students a list of words and their corresponding meanings in mixed order which they must then match. In this exercise, the rubric begins with a question and clearly indicates the simple task of matching the three words with the definitions. This type of exercise can be tricky for weaker students, so the meanings could also be replaced/accompanied by a still from the video.
- Another common exercise is to extract a list of the more difficult verbs and collocations which appear in the video which students are unlikely to know and ask students to match them together. This is a good way to get students to recognize chunks of language rather than just individual words.
- A way to both pre-teach vocabulary that appears in the video and raise interest in the content is to give the students a summary which has words missing from it and either the first letter of the missing words or a wordpool containing them which the students must use to complete the summary. In the activity below, there’s an extensive glossary of unknown words that students are choosing from.
- Another way of pre-teaching vocabulary is to give the students a still image from the video and some vocabulary and phrases related to the theme of the video and ask them to talk about which of the words and phrases might be used in the video, and what the content of it might be. For lower levels, you can include multiple stills which can help guide students to complete tasks that need additional support.
2. If the instructional purpose of viewing is mainly communicative, activities could include pre-viewing discussion tasks which generate more prediction, speculation and a chance to activate background schemata about the topic, content or narrative of the video to be viewed. The following tasks can be used to do this:
- An effective way of doing this is to give a still image from the video and some questions which the students must discuss.
- Another effective way of generating prediction and activating background schemata about the content, topic or narrative is to give the students a still image from the video, and then a list of objects which may appear in the video. The students must predict the things they think they will see in the video. This activity is also a way of pre-teaching vocabulary.
- Giving the students a number of questions related to the theme of the video to discuss, is an effective way of activating their background schemata and piquing their interest in the video.
- A common task to generate prediction, and activate background schemata about the topic, content or narrative of the video to be viewed is to give the students the topic of the video and ask them to predict what they will see in the video.
- Another way of activating the students’ background schemata is to give two options to complete a sentence, and ask the students to choose which they think is the correct one.
3. If the pedagogical goal is comprehension, there are a number of typical while-viewing tasks:
- Pronominal questions -questions beginning with Who, What, Why, When How many, How long, etc. At lower levels, the question may just ask for one-word answers. At higher levels, students can be challenged more by being asked to answer the question in their own words. Note that in this exercise, the writer has indicated where exactly the student needs to go when answering these questions. This number (e.g. 01.55) is called a ‘time code’ and it appears usually at the bottom of the screen. You can drag your cursor over to this specific number and the video will play from that specified spot. This is important for exercises which involve a significant amount of detail. By indicating a specific time code, you are helping the student focus and not be distracted by other sections of the video.
- True and false sentences about the video. The items should be clear and concise since the focus should be on listening and not on reading comprehension. When writing True / False sentences it’s important to bear in mind that the false sentences must seem plausible. You should also ensure a variety of answers across the exercise (i.e. the answers should not all be false). Please note that in this exercise, the rubric refers to the «DVD». Increasingly, students are going to be directed to videos that they can view online or streaming through their course, so it's probably best to just refer to the «video» when you are writing these exercises. That way there's greater flexibility for how the video can be accessed.
- Completing sentences, a summary or a dialogue is another typical comprehension activity in which students have to complete individual sentences, a summary paragraph or a dialogue with some words or expressions taken out. If students are required to complete gaps in sentences, it is important to make sure the sentence provides enough context for them to know what to listen out for.
- Another way of testing comprehension to give the students several numbers or dates which appear in the video and ask them to say what they refer to. At lower levels it may be a good idea to give the students numbers which they have to connect with the correct sentence.
- A more challenging and communicative way to check comprehension is to give the students some words which are significant to the video, and ask them to make notes why they are important to the story. Then in pairs they have to reconstruct the video’s narrative from their notes.
- We can give the students a list of events which they see in the video, and they must put the events in the order they happen. A variation on the above activity is to give the students a number of things, people or animals that appear in the video and they must put the things in the order they appear.
- Another effective viewing task which does not require the students to understand the audio, but to concentrate on visual elements, is to give them the names of some of the characters as well as a number of actions which happen in the video. Their task is to watch the video and say which character does each action.
Post-viewing activities often involve the students extracting the main ideas or concepts from the video or guiding the students’ attention to meaning and production tasks. Sometimes these tasks can be extended to projects with others during class or as homework. In this way, video can be used as a resource providing the students with the content for subsequent tasks.
To achieve both language-based and communicative goals at the post-viewing stage you may ask students to use target language structures of the movie in speaking or writing activities, such as:
- Discussing the ideas and issues raised in the video
- Discussing a film character
- Writing an e-mail or letter to this character
- Writing a guide
- Project work
As we have noticed, video material can be a very useful source and asset for the language teaching-learning process because it combines both fun and pedagogic instructions in an authentic material that reflect real interaction. By employing videotaped material teachers can always create an indefinite number of language teaching activities. The devised activities above are mere examples based on one short segment and each focuses of a different language skill that EFL students need to acquire. 
1. Stoller, F. 1988. Films and Videotapes in the ESL/EFL Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Teachers of English to speakers of other languages. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED299835.pdf
2. Donaghy K., Whitcher A. How to write film and video activities. Training course for ELT writers. 2015. ELT Teacher 2 Writer at Smashwords. 42 p.
3. Video in EFL Classrooms Retrieved from: [http://www.usingenglish.com/articles/video-in-efl-classrooms.html]
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