Bruce Wade is the Editor of International Express. In the first of three blog articles, he considers how and why video should be used in the ELT classroom of today.
This is the era of video. YouTube serves well over a billion views a day worldwide, sales of DVDs are booming, and the technology is developing rapidly with high definition flat screen TVs, Blu-Ray and 3-D.
When video was first made available, all we had was a big video player and an enormous TV with lots of wires and plugs. But the way we watch video is constantly changing; now we have PCs, laptops, broadband, flat-screens, DVD players, handhelds the size of our palms, and so on. Video is also making a return to mainstream language teaching as we enter a new phase of lower production costs and improved access to digital material in different formats. In the classroom, teachers can exploit the material in various ways.
Using Flash, visual images can be packaged with interactive exercises, subtitles, and other resources to make up a full learning experience. Students can watch video footage and cut backwards and forwards between the video, the exercises, and a wordbank so that they can listen, learn new vocabulary, check they’ve understood, or repeat if they haven’t. They can control their learning experience and tailor it to their individual needs.
Teachers need to ensure that video adds value to a student’s learning experience. A good worksheet that guides the class through the video, highlights thematic points of interest and useful vocabulary, and provides a variety of engaging activities, ensures students feel that video is a valid and effective teaching and learning tool.
Video is arguably the best medium for language learning and teaching. It combines a visual context with spoken language, and in many cases, written text in the form of subtitles.
The visual element has numerous benefits. It brings the outside world into the classroom. It provides visual clues which work in their own right and support the spoken text. We can see people’s facial expressions, their body language, and the physical background. Visual images provide a greater stimulus than simple auditory input. Seeing someone jumping off the edge of a 1000-metre cliff will stay in the memory longer than someone talking about it.
International Express Video: Elementary level, Unit 10: Berghaus
Visual images help to convey meaning. Seeing the inside of a real warehouse with fork-lift trucks, conveyor belts, and people packing is a more effective way to learn those terms than using translation, definitions, or explanations.
Video is also by its nature entertaining. Most people enjoy the visual medium, which requires less effort on the part of the viewer than listening or reading. There is also the potential in video to use stills, for example, maps, photos, close-ups, graphs, etc. in combination with moving images to create variety, and to give students a chance to reflect on what they have just learnt.
Read Bruce’s second blog article in this series , entitled ‘The use of reportage and mini-documentary’.