Using technology in the EFL classroom has become widespread in today’s educational environment. Belonging to a fast-paced generation, students can become dependent on electronic devices, such as tablets, mobile phones or digital cameras. So why not make use of them in the classroom?
A good way to motivate your students to learn a foreign language is to involve them in video projects. These not only foster their critical thinking and enhance their language skills but also increase students’ efficacy.
Here are my ideas for how you can involve your students in video projects:
Headway Scholarship – International Video Competition
The topic: How much a coursebook can change students and teachers’ lives.
In 2014, I was one of the winners in an international video competition and had a chance to participate in the Teachers’ Summer Seminar at Exeter College in Oxford. It was like a dream had come true – magical and overwhelming as I met 60 teachers from over 25 countries and had lectures and workshops with tutors whose names I knew from the books.
The task was to record a short video to present a topic of how much Headway can change students’ and teachers’ lives. The film was supposed to last no more than 90 seconds and together with my students we spent over 6 hours recording the scenes in different places in our town, Radom. Luckily, with my wonderful students’ help, we managed to edit the video to keep the film really short. My students told me that making the video had been one of the best experiences of their lives.
My participation in the video competition was definitely a turning point in my life. I started using video cameras more often with my students when I noticed their great engagement in the process of video production – writing a script, editing and acting.
This is the final video we prepared with my students and below is the description of the procedure we followed.
- Ask the students at the end of the school year about the topics they liked the most from their course book. They can choose one topic or several ones.
- Students work in groups (4-5) and think about a scenario of a short video – ‘A course book adventure’
- Give them 1 or 2 weeks to prepare.
While working on the project, encourage your students to communicate and exchange ideas on a Facebook or Edmodo class group. Monitor the students’ work and give them any help they need in preparation for the video projects.
Alternatively, you can ask your students at the beginning of a course to look at the contents of the course book and choose the topics of their interests. You can also add a list of students’ topics connected with their own interests or hobbies and involve them in the video project.
A good idea is to organise a film festival at the end of the school year and display the students’ videos to the whole school community.
Below are some examples of several other video projects I worked with my students.
Poem – ‘Left on the shelf’ by Jamie Keddie
Recently, together with Adriana Kamienik, we recorded a video with our high school students for an international competition organized by ET professional and we were very lucky to be the runners-up.
The task was to prepare a video based on the poem ‘Left on the shelf’ by Jamie Keddie.
Jamie Keddie’s poem ‘Left on the shelf’
Students had a chance to immerse themselves in the narrative, practice narrative tenses having fun at the same time.
Here is the procedure of how you can adapt it to your own teaching.
- Bring a story or a poem to your classroom.
- Divide your students into groups of 4-5 students.
- Read the story/poem to your students and ask them to imagine who the characters are, for example:
– Who is SHE/HE?
– What does she/he look like?
– Are they humans?
As an alternative, you can play them the audio recording (here read by the author of the poem himself – Jamie Keddie)
Audio of the poem ‘Left on the shelf’ by Jamie Keddie
Ask your students to close their eyes and use their imagination while listening to a story .
- Next,the students open their eyes and share ‘their stories’ in groups.
- The students’ task is to think about a scenario of the video.
- Give them about 2 weeks to prepare it.
- Help them with the plot and language (e.g. set up a Facebook or Edmodo class group where they can discuss their ideas).
- Show to your students some examples of samples of other students’ videos (if you don’t have any you can use mine).
- Encourage students to use costumes and realia.
- Students can also include a brief comment at the end of the video telling others what they have learnt from the experience.
- Share the students’ videos with other students and encourage them to take part in similar video projects.
- The most important thing: PRAISE THEM ON THEIR HARD WORK!
Addictions – ‘Say NO to drugs’
The following is a video project that I worked on with my high school students on the topic of addictions.
The idea of the video project came to my mind after reading about the video competition organized by the local authorities of my town. The task was to record a short spot on the topic: ‘Choose life – say NO to drugs’. Together with my students, we prepared two videos in our native language (for the use of the local contest) as well as one in English. We were very lucky to be the 3rd prize winners in the competition. My students had the chance to participate in the conference organized by the police on the topic of addictions during which the winning videos were displayed.
Give students possible topics to choose from. They can be connected with something you discussed in class, for example: environmental issues, eating habits, addictions etc.
The task is to create a video that raises awareness of social problems.
Recently, I discussed a topic of addictions with my high school students. Later, I set up a video project – ‘Say NO to drugs’. Their task was to record a short spot (3-4 mins) with a positive message for the viewer at the end of the video.
I encouraged my students to think about healthy lifestyle and sports as an alternative to addictions.
* The procedure is similar to the one above (from point no 5).
You can use your students’ videos with other students and ask them to develop a story. Below is a description of how you can use these videos :
‘Say NO to drugs’ video:
- Show your students the video ‘Say NO to drugs. Say No To Drugs’.
- Stop the video at some point and say: “Imagine you are directors. Your task is to finish the story…”
- They watch the video till 1:58. Their task is to develop a story. Ask them : What did he do to change his life?
- Alternatively, you can stop the video at 2:26 and ask them to develop a story.
- Students discuss their ideas in groups and then share their stories with other groups.
Interview with a band
Music can serve as a great source of inspiration for your students as it can evoke wonderful memories and emotions. During these 19 years of my teaching experience I have observed the most enjoyable topics for my students including their favourite bands and singers.
Here you can find some ideas how you can involve your students in a music video project.
- Ask your students to prepare an interview with a singer or band members.
- Engage all students in the video project.
- Use your students’ talents – a good voice, acting skills etc.
- Make it fun and enjoyable for your students
You can also find some ideas in the handout attached Interview with a band – MD (2)