Here's a nice, generic listening and speaking activity that you can do with many YouTube videos, which I've described previously.
The summarise and present activity suggested there requires the learners to:
Watch the video, taking notes as they go along
Discuss it in a group of 3-4
Agree on a summary of what is being said
Watch again to check their summary includes the most important information
Prepare a presentation of it, using a maximum of 3 PowerPoint (or whatever) slides
Present it to the class in 60 seconds
Hold a Q+A session lasting 3 minutes (which you might allow to go on longer, if the discussion generated is fruitful)
Getting more out of the same activity
The activity works particularly well if you (or your learners) can find a different video on the same subject for each of your groups.
If you also have somewhere like a class blog or Edmodo group where the discussion can continue — and your learners can post the different videos, perhaps to be watched later, outside class — that's also fantastic.
This post nearly didn't make it out of "draft", but the activity works so well that, when I was doing the spring cleaning this last weekend I thought I'd post — five years (!!) after first saving it — rather than trash. I think I must have found the video on a post on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog.
Posting it had nothing to do with the young lady in the static image before the video starts to roll, you understand 😉 !
I'm a huge fan of Kieran Donaghy'sFilm-English.com, with its brilliant selection of YouTube and Vimeo clips and accompanying lesson plans, but sometimes you just see other clips that look just so amazing for class — except that you don't have a lesson plan.
Below, generic ideas that lead to the production of a lot of languagewithout your requiring any more material than the clip itself.
1 | Commentators and listeners
With this one, you put learners in 3s, and have two sit with their backs to the video (sound initially off) while their partner provides a running commentary, with as much detail as possible, as in the illustration, above. The example I gave:
Look for videos (like Simon's Cat) which have plenty of action in them, the more bizarre the better (Mr Bean, someone suggested in the workshop), as in this crazy ad.
2 | Brainstorming a better list
Everyone loves lists, don't they? YouTube does too!
But before you get your learners to watch (and before you start typing up and photocopying a True/False exercise for them!), give them the topic, and get them to (1) brainstorm their own list in small groups; then (2) watch and check off which things on their list are mentioned; if they then (3) list everything mentioned in the video they can then (4) compare lists: theirs, the video's, and those of other groups; and finally (5) discuss who produced the best list.
Here's the hilarious video I suggested as an example:
Here's another example, with a fuller outline of the lesson. Look for "how to" videos, or just about any video with a title starting "7 things…", "10 ways…" etc.
3 | Summarise and present
The brilliant Joe Hanson [ YouTube channel ] has lots of clips this idea will work with:
What they're then doing in class time is making the short oral presentations (I suggest 60-90 seconds, maximum 3 slides), with Q+A time at the end to ensure maximum participation of the whole class.
Look for videos with lots of information and/or presenting ideas, with TED being another site with videos this will work with.
4 | TED feedback
If you watch videos on TED, you're probably familiar with how their rating system works. If you choose to rate one of their talks, you get a pop-up window with a selection of adjectives you can use:
With any video — not necessarily from TED — you can do the same thing. It works particularly well with videos that divide opinion and reaction in your class (like this one, for example) and if you allow your learners to come up with their own adjectives to "rate" it.
If you then pool the adjectives they're come up with and have them pick which 3-5 best describe it, you've got the basis of a class debate.
5 | Video clips as storytelling prompts
One of the things apart from YouTube that we looked at in the workshop was digital storytelling. I'll return to that in a separate post, but mentioned that video clips that tell stories are great as writing (or speaking) prompts for kick starting ideas (and language) to be included in digital storytelling projects.
In Friday's workshop I suggested this Springsteen song but they tell me Taylor Swift is kind of more popular now 😉 :
The Taylor Swift song has worked well (thanks, Kim) with teens who (1) brainstormed a list of what they guessed would be in a Taylor Swift love song clip; (2) checked that off in a first watching (sound on); (3) listened to the lyrics on a second watching; (4) in 3s, used the song for a dictogloss activity, with their versions then being checked against the actual lyrics; (5) debated what exactly happens in the story — clip and lyrics; before (6) recycling the language that had come up in class into their own collaborative stories (some produced in text, some in audio form).
Look for song video clips that tell stories, which then also give you a text (the lyrics) you can then exploit in the usual ways.
6 | Football (etc.)
One not mentioned in the workshop, but football is always a winner in class, isn't it? My son (one of my key sources for video clips for class) showed me this amazing Facebook page with sports clips the other day.
Generic lesson plan? Pick the right clip (look for controversy!) and you probably don't need one! With certain learners, they'll talk endlessly (possibly not always intelligently 😉 ) on the subject…
I can also recommend two other similar video and lesson plan sites, LessonStream and Allatc (the latter particularly for more advanced learners) but what I particularly like about FilmEnglish is the choice of the clips: they so intrinsically interesting, as the materials for lessons really always ought to be.
YouTube (not to mention other sites like Vimeo and Videojug) offers language teachers an amazing variety of materials but rather than immediately thinking "How can I turn this clip into an exercise?", think "How can I turn this into a lesson?" — particularly if it involves doing something more creative with YouTube.
The key question to getting the most from YouTube is probably to consider how active or passive the learners are going to be. If the clip gets them merely to check true/false boxes, they're passive; if it gets them to talk, then they're active.
Hilarious results also guaranteed with this one, assuming that you have a suitable song — one with lots of bits of vocabulary that get repeated. You want to get the kids to shout out their word(-s) as they hold them up (the kids in the video don't seem to).
With large classes, dividing the learners into 2 or 3 groups of up to a dozen who then have to perform for the others is competitive fun.
What YouTube clips are going to "work" with your learners? Here's one, which I've not used with a class of learners (yet!) but which seems to have a lot going for it…
With just about any YouTube video you use with learners you want:
A short clip, under 3 minutes definitely, under 2 better, under 1 terrific!
Something that it will lead on to, perhaps discussion, definitely use of the language and interaction between the learners
This one I spotted today on The Guardian under the headline Brad Pitt's Chanel No 5 ad: the smell of disaster, which gives me (4) a related article or other text to read and get further language and discussion from; the latter might take place after class, outside class, via an Edmodo group. Note also the other ads linked to in the article.
All I need now is (5) a simple, meaningful listening task of some kind; I'm thinking along the lines of seeing if, in pairs, the learners can jot down what Mr Pitt says verbatim…
But perhaps someone can suggest a better listening task… or a sixth (or seventh thing!) to look for in clips?