Using genuine videos in the class

Using genuine materials in the class is an important tool for increasing your student’s language depth and to improve their confidence when taking their English into the real world. Several websites exist including One Stop English and ESL Video, providing you with video as well as prepared exercises for you to use in class.

These websites are an excellent resource and can save you a lot of time. However, the problem here is that videos tend to focus on General English topics rather than more specific uses. You may find that a video quiz about 50 Shades of Grey is not entirely suitable for your class of investment bankers or electrical engineers. With this in mind, I prefer to prepare my own videos.

Finding suitable materials

Obviously, there is a huge range of potential material on the internet and finding something suitable can be a daunting task. Hosting websites such as Youtube and Google are easily searchable and have millions of videos, although I find that the sheer volume of material can make it challenging to get what you’re looking for – different accents, commercial/non commercial and the like are all mixed in together. News websites like the Guardian and CNN are a better resource – coming from a single source and generally clocking in around the ideal 3 minutes long mark. Personally, I prefer to use BBC news. Videos are searchable, cover a range of business and general English topics and are in the neutral BBC accent.

As mentioned, the best videos are around 3-5 minutes long. General interest videos work well with most groups. Try to avoid industry-specific videos with groups not involved in that sector and that contain any language other than English, including dubbed/subtitled parts – sounds obvious but worth stating.

Some videos I’ve used in the past with good results (general English):

Berlin’s obsession with Currywurst

Catalonia’s human towers

LA’s gourmet food trucks

(all part of the excellent Close Up series)

Preparing exercises

Before you use the video in class, you will need to go through and pick out any challenging vocabulary. You should pre-teach this vocabulary before your video.

You will also need to prepare a lead-in, first and second listening activities and a follow up activity. Your choice of activity will depend on the video you have and what you want to achieve with it.

Here is a list of listening activities

Using the video in class

Unless appropriate equipment is provided for you, you’ll need to bring a laptop or tablet to show your video. Unless you are able to download the video, you will also need access to the internet. Many companies will have wi-fi and be able to provide you with access, although a good proportion of companies deny access to non-company devices. You should obviously check all of this before you arrive at class.

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