It's not about entertainment, it's about engagement

I carry this quotation from Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog round with me in my head, and it springs to mind every time I consider using YouTube with learners.

Because the following activity does actually so obviously engage the learners, it's one of my all time favourite classroom activities. I think the original source was probably Video (Cooper, Lavery and Rinvolucri; OUP 1991), so I've been doing it for 20 years or so, first with video tapes, now with clips from YouTube, particularly ads.

In pairs, have one learner provide a running commentary on a YouTube clip to partner sitting with their back to video.

An ad it works excellently with:

A rough outline of the stages of the lesson

  1. Divide the class into pairs, with one partner in each pair (A, C, E…) sitting with back to screen
  2. Play the video clip, the other partner (B, D, F…) providing a running commentary with as much information as possible
  3. Teacher provides any help with language
  4. Swop partners so that A (etc) now gets a new commentary from D (etc), with improved language
  5. A (etc), with help from partner, now has to write down script
  6. Class reaches concensus on what they think happened
  7. Everyone now watches clip, to see how accurate the agreed script is
  8. Share the clip via blog, Edmodo…, for further comments
  9. Find, share and comment further related clips, also via Edmodo

Other clips the idea works well with

Downloading YouTube clips
People always ask: I like to download the clips I use in advance, "just in case". is an excellent tool for doing so.

Introduction | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten

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  1. I loved this idea for using video clips, which Antonia Clare suggested in her workshop:

    With clips with strong characters (Antonia's example was from the soap opera Gavin and Stacey), having discussed what we learn of the characters, get one of the learners to sit in the "hot seat", be the character, and answer the questions the other learners pose.

  2. Great quote to start the post.

    Like Tom, I caught Antoina's co-author speak about using authentic videos in Class, even with beginners, and found the value there within. Have used a few vids to start class since and get things moving and have been pleased with the results.

    Cheers, Brad

  3. Glad you like it, Brad, and thanks for stopping by.

    As I said, the quote is one that's stayed with me ever since I first read it about four years ago. It's like one of those tunes that you can't get out of your head, only useful, not irritating 🙂 !

  4. How about this one, is it just too bizarre?! Un beso, K.

  5. Love it, Kate :-)!

    But, yes, maybe just a bit too bizarre? Might be fun on April Fools Day if you asked them to see if they could work out the rules without actually telling them it's a spoof and that cricket isn't played liked that… Or is that too cruel?

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