6 great ways to use video in the TEFL classroom

The use of video in the TEFL classroom has become super mainstream in the last couple of years, with more and more schools offering tech like TVs and smart whiteboards. If you’ve got the power of the audio-visual in your teaching domain, why not consider using the following methods to enhance your lessons…

video in the TEFL classroom
Students | © Jeff Peterson/Flickr

What happens next scenarios

We’ve all heard the famous soccer commentary: “They think it’s all over…it is now!“. The legendary line that marked the end of the 1966 FIFA World Cup is but one example of how video can be used to reveal twists and turns in a way that text and audio can’t. Why not harness the narrative-telling power of the tape and pause it at certain moments? Then, ask your students to write a couple of lines on what they think happens next. Your material can be as varied as you like, with everything from sports vids (like in the example above) to whacky YouTube clips at hand for material. The method is great for practicing skills like tenses and verb usage.

For pinpointing specific target language

I remember it well: A new advanced class, all fresh faces, not sure what sort of teacher I was. I put up the video for The Proclaimers 500 Miles on the screen and asked them to note down every imperative, past particle and compound verb they heard. Soon, everyone was humming along and happy, but also sort of subconsciously noticing all the grammatical features I’d requested. The same sort of thing could work with all types of videos – not just music ones – and activities too. It’s essentially reverse comprehension, and forced students to exercise their ability to hear language devices in native speech.

Film in the TEFL classroom
Mr. Macey |© vickysandoval22/Flickr

Forcing descriptions

Using video in the TEFL classroom when teaching descriptions can be really handy. One great – and popular – way of doing this is to separate your group into pairs (two large groups also works), face one away from the screen and the other towards it. Make sure you have the video muted completely, and proceed to ask the student facing the screen to describe what’s going on to the pupil not facing it. You can use this to simply test the descriptive and vocab strengths of the pupil who’s talking, or get the student not speaking to write down what they hear to put different skills under the microscope. Of course, the wackier and crazier the action in the video, the harder the task can become.

Not the right voice

Choose a video clip that shows a quick-paced dialogue. Then, mute the sound of the TV and assign each student a character on screen. Play the clip and get your students to come up with imagined dialogue for their corresponding character. This exercise is often really fun, and great for leading into discussions of vocabulary, or topics like acting and cinema (just be sure to pick a well-known flick). You can opt to do it in pairs, getting students to write their dialogue and share it later on, or as a whole group, opting for more than just two interlocutors on screen.

Smartboard | © Anna/Flickr
Smartboard | © Anna/Flickr

Order the events

A great one for practicing the present tense and vocab at lower skill levels is this video-infused twist on the usual ordering of events exercise. Show a video in the TEFL classroom several times and then hand out a series of cut-out sentences to students. Ask your students to order the sentences in the order they saw them occur on screen. It’s simple and it’s sweet, but you can vary it too – think about getting your guys to order things in reverse, or add in an element of guessing, by getting students to write their own sentence at a cliff-hanger.

For comprehension

Classic comprehension exercises are perhaps the single most common way that teachers will use video in the TEFL classroom. You start by writing up a series of questions about what happens in your chosen video, some easy, some hard. Hand them out to your students to take a look at beforehand, and then proceed to play the video through several times. You could opt for the quieter approach and simply get your class to answer the questions after. Or, you could tie this in with another game and get team competition going while watching, perhaps by pausing and starting the video and giving extra points for those who spot the answers first.


Are you a veteran teacher and can think of several more ways to use video in the TEFL classroom? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Or, if you think you’d be great in the EFL world, be sure to head over to our courses page

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