June was all about videos. In this post, I’d like to share my 3 favourite video tools I have been using to incorporate video clips into my classes, 2 short videos I’ve used with different students on a number of occasions and they were always a big hit, and, finally, my new favourite online video series I’d recommend to any English language teacher and learner.
My 3 favourite video tools
This tool allows you to annotate videos and it synchronises your notes with what’s happening on the screen. Best part: it is integrated with Google Drive and allows you to share/save your work there. I’ve found it a very helpful part of my online teaching toolkit and it’s great for autonomous learning: students might choose the videos and decide what they want to focus on.
What you can do with it:
- create questions to videos
- draw your students’ attention to vocabulary items, grammar points, or phonological features presented in the video
- ask the students to make notes explaining what’s happening in the video
- students note down their doubts re. video’s content / language
This platform is the answer to one of the first questions I asked myself when I started online teaching: how can I watch videos with my students without sharing my screen?! Watch2gether is the place where exactly this happens: you create a room, share the link with whoever you want to join you, and watch videos or listen to audio tracks. The site supports YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and Soundcloud links. On top of that, it’s free!
I first came across MailVu when I applied for a job last year and sending the school a short video of me talking about myself and explaining a grammar point was one of the requirements. MailVu makes it possible for you to record up short videos using just your webcam and sending them to your chosen recipients. There is no uploading or downloading involved, so it’s incredibly quick and easy to use.
I use it to assign speaking homework to my students: weekly video diaries, answering questions we introduced in class or mock speaking exam. I also sometimes send them video summaries of what we’ve done in the course so far, what’s still ahead of us. Some of my students were reluctant at first (Why should I video record myself? Can’t I just send you a video file?) but a lot of them admitted that seeing themselves speak English was a very interesting experience and receiving a short video from their teacher was more personable than a voice recording or an email (mind you, I never meet my online students in real life so creating and maintaining a good rapport might sometimes pose a challenge).
My 2 favourite short videos
#1 Roommate Wanted Dead or Alive by The Animation Workshop
Vimeo has been my go-to place when looking for cool videos to use in my classes or to recommend to my students. I first found Roommate when I was looking for a video to watch with my 11-year old student when discussing the topic of body parts. Since then, I’ve used it in several different ways with different age groups and levels:
- put the events in order (narrative tenses, sequencing)
- body parts and appearance vocabulary (describe the characters)
- different POVs speaking/writing (What do the characters think of each other?)
- creating a classified ad (Roommate wanted)
- conversation lessons tie-ins (Tolerance, Prejudice, Roommates)
#2 Bob by Jacob Frey
My favourite thing about Bob is how unpredictable the ending is. This video puts a smile on my student’s faces and creates a relaxed mood. This leads perfectly to some language practice:
- What’s going through Bob’s head? Using such structures as : I wish…, I’d rather…, It’s time I…, I can’t believe … , I must admit …, I’d sooner … to express Bob’s thoughts and feelings
- Bob’s adventures: pick one location from the video and describe Bob’s day in this place / Bob’s sends a postcard to his friends
- Role-play: persuade Bob to abandon his quest
- Interview: interview Bob about what keeps him energised and motivated to keep going in these hard time
- Conversation tie-ins (Motivation, Traveling, Dreams, Setting and reaching goals)
My favourite video series
Comma Queen. Mary Norris on language in all its facets
I have recently discovered this brilliant video series published by The New Yorker. In 25 short episodes, Mary Norris aka Comma Queen explains such language intricacies as “I vs Me”, “Which vs that”, and looks at the correct use of punctuation marks. The videos are short, succinct, very clear, and accompanied by great examples from authentic articles published by the magazine. It’s an absolute must-see for all language teachers and learners.