I'd like to share a nice way of working with videos in the L2 classroom. You can obviously ask your students to watch a video on
YouTube, for example, but it's more creative, motivating and fun to make your
own video in class and work with it later on. So, last Thursday we recorded a role play
of a story called The Tailor of Swaffham we had previously read in the
coursebook. The kids I worked with were a group of 12-year-olds. We did a couple of rehearsals and in the end we shot the final
version, let’s call it Take 1, which was about 4 minutes long. I used my
low-tech Nokia phone so the quality of the video was not exactly stunning, but
it was OK for the purpose of the activity.
At home I uploaded the video to my private
YouTube channel. In the next lesson, I played the video back and I asked my students the following questions.
1) What did you like about the video - the
acting, camera, sound, etc?
2) Is there anything we should work
The students came up with lots of
interesting ideas for improvement, such as:
- There were too many characters involved at the beginning of the play and
thus the scene looked crowded and messy. We should do something about the
- We should speak up next time or we should get closer to the camera. Or
the camera should get closer to the actors.
- Although the sound was ok, sometimes it was difficult to understand - we should speak more slowly and clearly.
- Some actors made mistakes in pronunciation (once upon a time, busy)
- we should practise the lines, focusing on the difficult areas.
- To improve the sound, we should also reduce the background noise (bags
falling, kids whispering and giggling).
- The camera moved around too fast at times and thus the picture was blurred.
We put the points on the board one by one.
The discussion was obviously all in English (the language the kids used was a bit less complex though). The aim of the discussion was 1)
to practise specific language points and 2) to find as many ways of improving
our video as possible. We were planning to do Take 2 (which we finally did) and
we wanted to make it better than Take 1. So while recording the follow-up
version, we kept all the above mentioned problems in mind. Eventually, we felt that the
outcome was far better than the first version, but we’ll see when we watch Take 2 together next time we meet.
And as good things come in threes, I hope to do Take 3!