Videos are a great resource for language teaching and learning!
Students enjoy watching animated shows and videos on TV, on tablets, and on phones. Videos can motivate students to engage with language, so it’s easy to understand why teachers want to bring more videos into their English classrooms.
There are strong pedagogical reasons for including videos in your language teaching. Videos bring language alive. Students can see and hear language being used in context.
Animated videos are particularly accessible because they make it easy to focus on specific language, and can appeal to a wider age range of students than live-action videos. Animated videos are ideal for providing language models with enough context to support meaning, and enough humour to engage students. Research shows that students respond positively to familiar characters, so if you use videos with characters students can identify, they not only bring the language to life but may also make students want to interact with the characters they’re watching!
Even with all of these great reasons to include video in English class, many teachers don’t. Why not? Teachers tell us that it’s hard to find interesting videos that use the language their students are learning. They aren’t sure where to look for appropriate videos, and when they do know where to look, they don’t have time to search through the videos available in order to find one that will work with a specific lesson. Often, the videos won’t work because the language is too hard, or the video is too long or too fast-paced. Even if teachers are successful in finding a video they think could work with their lesson, they often aren’t sure how to make the best use of it for language learning.
One of the most important things teachers can do when using a video in class is to make the video content as interactive as the rest of their lesson. We know it’s important for students to talk to each other, to ask and answer questions, to use gestures and movement to reinforce meaning, and to use language in a meaningful way. We should use videos in the same way. There’s no reason to make video watching a passive experience in class.
Here are some ways to make video watching fun, interactive, and effective:
- Show the video without sound first. Then see what the students can remember about the video: body/hand movements and gestures, the situation and any words or phrases that they think are in the conversation.
- Play the video with sound. Have students listen for specific words or phrases, and do something (like raising a hand) when they hear the target language.
- Ask students a question before playing the video with sound. Have them listen for the answer.
- Have students take a role and act out the video.
We’re excited that the 5th edition of Let’s Go will include videos to help animate your teaching. The conversation videos show students how to extend the Let’s Talk dialogues. The song and chant videos make the language even more memorable and entertaining by adding a visual component.
Two of the new videos are available for you to try out in class.
Extended Conversation Videos
The conversation videos extend Let’s Talk dialogues by adding relevant language students already know and showing body language and gestures in context. Interestingly, if students look closely, they’ll see characters using gestures and facial expressions that may be different from what they usually do. During the video, one of the Let’s Go characters always turns to the students to ask a question, in order to make students part of every conversation.
The video from Level One Unit Six is available for you to watch.
Here’s the transcript so you can see how familiar language is used to extend the basic conversation. The original conversation is in black. The added language is in red. Blue highlights the question students will answer.
[Set off in a box]
Jenny: Yes. Oh, hi Kate. How are you?
Kate: I’m great. How are you?
Jenny: I’m great, too. It’s so nice today.
Kate: How’s the weather?
Jenny: It’s sunny.
Kate: What was that?
Jenny: It’s rainy now.
Kate: How’s the weather today?
How could you use this in class?
- Show the video without sound, and ask students to tell you what the conversation is about.
- Play the video with sound. Have students listen and tell you what language they hear.
- Have students answer Kate’s question, and then ask each other the same question.
- Once students are comfortable with the language, have them watch without sound again, and tell you how Jenny is feeling based on her facial expressions
- Let students role-play the conversation in pairs.
Song and Chant Videos
The song and chant videos make lesson language visible and memorable! Combining rhythm, music, and images allow students to use three of their senses and increases the amount of language they’ll remember. “Where are the bugs?” from Level One Unit Six is available now.
How could you use this in class?
- Have students call out the names of objects they recognise in the video.
- Have students decide on gestures for on, in, under, and by (e.g., placing a fist on a palm for ‘on’,). Students do the gestures as they listen to the song.
- Have half of the class sing the questions and the other half answer. (Sing twice so everyone gets to ask and answer questions.)
Using videos that support your lessons can make the language more exciting, and real. The best videos for teaching language will reinforce the language you’re trying to teach. They’ll be short and will match your students’ pace.
Let’s Go fifth edition videos are all of these things – pedagogically sound, student tested, linguistically appropriate, short, understandable, and funny. Having the videos included with the coursebook units makes it easy to include them in your lessons.
Have fun animating your language teaching with Let’s Go!
Ritsuko Nakata, Karen Frazier, and Barbara Hoskins have spent 25 years working to improve the Let’s Go learning experience for teachers and their students. It is the only primary coursebook series that has had the same authors for all levels, resulting in a tightly controlled grammar syllabus that makes productive use of limited class time.