The methods of using videos in language teaching classrooms

Didar Bildebayeva

Teacher: Almaty university of power engineering

and telecommunication


Video has been proven to be an effective method in teaching English as a foreign/second language (EFL/ESL) for both young and adult learners. Video can be used in a variety of instructional settings - in classrooms, on distance-learning sites where information is broadcast to learners who interact with the facilitator via video or computer, and in self-study and evaluation situations. It can also be used in the teachers personal and professional development or with students as a way of presenting content, initiating conversations, and providing illustrations for various concepts. Teachers and students can always create their own videotapes as content for the class or as a means to assess learners performance.

Because it is so close to language reality - containing visual as well as audible cues - video is an excellent medium for use in the language classroom. It can be used in many different ways and for teaching or revising many different language points. These notes are intended to help you think about how you can use video in your classroom. They are not exhaustive, because ultimately the ways in which you use video are limited only by your own imagination.

Arthur (1999) claims that: "Video can give students realistic models to imitate for role-play; can increase awareness of other cultures by teaching appropriateness and suitability; can strengthen audio/visual linguistic perceptions simultaneously; can widen the classroom repertoire and range of activities; can help utilize the latest technology to facilitate language learning; can teach direct observation of the paralinguistic features found in association with the target language; can be used to help when training students in ESP related scenarios and language; can offer a visual reinforcement of the target language and can lower anxiety when practicing the skill of listening." Video used in a classroom should be interpretive and to the point. The visual should show reasonable judgement and enhance comprehension, heighten sensory acuteness, and illustrate the target language being used. Practitioners should avoid the use of distracters, over-crowded or violent stimuli. Visuals are ineffective in the learning process when the visual is too small; when the visual or video uses stereotypes; when the visual or video is a poor reproduction; when the picture is too far away from the text illustration; when the video has irrelevant captioning; when the video or visual offers to much information related or unrelated to the picture; when the video or visual is poorly scaled; and when the picture is not esthetically meaningful. A visual cue may be accompanied by a written cue to focus on a lexical item being furnished. Videos can make the task, situation or language more authentic. More importantly, video can be used to help distinguish items on a listening comprehension test, aid in the role of recall, help to sequence events, as well as be adapted, edited or changed in order to meet the needs of the language learner (Canning, 1998).

The teacher is a controller because he or she is the only person who controls not only what the learners do but when they speak as well while they are watching the video film. The teacher is also an assessor because he or she assesses the learners work in order to see how well they are performing. The teacher should wait until the end of the activity and then he must evaluate the learners outputs. Furthermore, the teacher is an organiser because he needs to be so. He should be a good organiser in teaching the foreign language through video, and should know exactly what to lead to success. He should not give useless information or confusing instructions to the learners in order not to waste a lot of time. He should clearly explain what they are going to watch and what their task is. The other role that the teacher carries is being a prompter because he acts as a prompter. When there is a silence viewing or what the learners are confused about what to do next, he is expected to encourage learners participate. The teacher is a participant because he participates in the activities while teaching a foreign language through video. He knows the materials and all the details about them, which help the learners feel comfort and facilitates learning. Considering these factors in mind, the teacher should prepare to promote active viewing and facilitate successful language learning. This requires being familiar with the video materials before they are used in class. The teacher should develop a plan for each video unit and encourage active viewing. To aid comprehension, he should prepare viewing guides which are easy and related to the language level of the students.




Active viewing increases the students enjoyment and satisfaction and focuses their attention on the main idea of the video presentation. So, it is necessary for students to take an active part in video teaching presentations. Before starting the

presentation the teacher writes some key questions on the board about the presentation so that the students get an overview of the content of it. After viewing the questions the students answer the questions orally, or the students may take

notes while viewing. For more detailed comprehension students are provided a cue sheet or viewing guides and let them watch and listen for specific details or specific features of language. However, it should be kept in mind that the level of the students should be taken into account and adapt the technique according to their levels.



Freeze framing means stopping the picture on the screen by pressing the still or pause button. Video gives us an additional dimension of information about the characters body language, facial expressions, emotions, reactions, and responses. Teacher freezes the picture when he or she wants to teach words and expressions regarding mood and emotions, to ask questions about a particular scene, or to call students attention to some points. By freezing the scene the students can be asked what is going to happen next. So they speculate on what will happen in the next act. Freeze framing is excellent for speculation. This activity also fires the imagination of the students by leading them predicting and deducing further information about the characters.


As video is an audiovisual medium, the sound and the vision are separate components. Silent viewing arouses student interests, stimulates thought, and develops skills of anticipation. In silent viewing, the video segment is played with the sound off using only the picture. This activity can also be a prediction technique when students are watching video for the first time. One way of doing this is to play the video segment without the sound and tell students to observe the behaviour of the characters and to use their power of deduction. Then press the pause button at intervals to stop the picture on the screen and get students to guess what is happening and what the characters might be saying or ask students what has happened up to that point. Finally, video segment is replayed with the sound on so that learners can compare their impressions with what actually happens in the





This activity can be interesting and useful to play a section of a video unit and remove the visual element from the presentation by obscuring the picture so that students can hear only the dialogue but unable to see the action. Through this activity the students predict or reconstruct what has happened visually depending only what they hear.



When there are some difficult language points in the video unit, closely repetition can be a necessary step to communicative production exercises. A scene on video is replayed with certain pauses for repetition either individually or in chorus. When students have a clear understanding of the presentation, they are asked to act out the scene using as much of the original version as they can remember. When students

become confident with role playing and are sure of vocabulary and language structures, more creative activity can be introduced in which they are asked to improvise the scene to fit their views of the situation and the characters they are playing. Role-play involves students as active participants. As each student plays the assigned role, s/he becomes more and more involved. This activity also helps students to better understanding their own behaviour and to be more able to respond in a positive way to various human relationships. In other words, role playing is a good communicative activity and true preparation for real-life situations. It gives a chance to students to apply what they are learning.



After students have seen a section, students are asked to reproduce either what is being said, to describe what is happening, or to write or retell what has happened. This activity encourages students to try out their knowledge. Students will benefit from experimenting in English, even though it is challenging and mistakes are made. As it seems a bit difficult to perform, guidance, help and reassurance may be needed.


This activity can be done when students have the necessary language competence. In this activity, students are asked to fill in the missing dialogues after watching a sound-off video episode. It is interesting and enjoyable for the students to complete a scene from the video by dubbing.



It is important that a video presentation should lead to follow-up activity as the basis for further extended oral practice. Discussion stimulates communication among students, and it helps to achieve communicative practice. With this activity students have an opportunity to develop sharing and co-operative skills.


Languages are not fixed but constantly changing, so is the media; television, radio and newspaper which are an extraordinarily rich source of language in use. In order to expose foreign language learners to the target language the use of technology need to be exploited in the classroom as much as possible. For that reason a great tendency towards the use of technology and its integration into the curriculum developed by the foreign language teachers has gained a great importance. Particularly the use of video has received increasing attention in recent studies on technology integration into teacher education curricula.

It is an undeniable fact that video is one of the best materials that enables students to practice what they have learned through various techniques. As Canning-Wilson (2000) describes video, at the most basic level of instruction, is a form of communication and it can be achieved without the help of language, since we often interact by gesture, eye contact and facial expression to convey meaning. Thus it is clearly true such kind of materials present complete communicative situations by means of the dynamic, immediate and accessible combination of sound and vision.

Methodologically speaking, watching video films should be different from passive television viewing. So, the teacher should encourage the learners to watch the films actively, by using the supplementary materials, such as worksheets prepared by him or supplied with the films. The learners should participate in the activities, if possible, they themselves set up some projects in the target language, by recording their own activities such as speaking, interviewing, reporting etc. Shortly, the role of the learner is not to be a passive viewer but an active member in the triangle of the video, the teacher and the learner. To reach successful and effective results with teaching language through video, the learners and the teachers should perform their tasks perfectly. Moreover they should be informed of the new methods and techniques in FLT. To do this, seminars can be organised. A group of teachers and experts should prepare video cassettes, which will enable the schools to obtain them easily. These cassettes should be modern, interesting and in parallel with the syllabus. In a word, it can be concluded that the use of technology is nowadays inevitable in the classroom. When used appropriately, video is quite beneficial for learners and teachers as long as they are considered only as mere entertainment, but carefully chosen films can be a useful and extremely motivational teaching tool for both practicing listening skills and stimulating speaking and writing. (Katchen, 2002).




1.     Brinton, D., & Gaskill, W. (1987). Using news broadcast in the ESL/EFL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 12.

2.     Arthur, P. "Why use video? A teacher's perspective", VSELT 2:4 (1999): 4.

3.     Baltova, I." Impact of video on the comprehension skills of core French students". Canadian Modern Language Review, 50, 3 (1994): 506-531.

4.     Christine Canning-Wilson & Julie Wallace (2000) Practical Aspects of Using Video in the Foreign Language Classroom. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000. Retrieved April 15, 2006 from internet: html

5.     Katchen, J.E. (1996) Using authentic video in English language teaching: Tips for Taiwans teachers. Taipei: The Crane Publishing Company, Ltd Video in ELTTheoretical and Pedagogical Foundations. Proceedings of the 2002 KATE (The Korea Association of Teachers of English) International Conference (pp. 256-259).

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