7 Activities for Teaching English with Movies, TV Shows, and Online Videos

Teaching English with movies Teach English with video! Use video to teach any topic to students of all ages. Videos are one of the richest authentic materials because of the context, visuals, sounds, and variety of themes they provide. This free article will look at seven ESL activities and tasks that students can complete before, during, and after watching a video.

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1) Fill in the Blanks – Teach English with Video

This is the most common kind of activity. As a teacher you can listen to the movie and prepare a part of the script and blank out some of the words for students to listen and complete. Very often the script can be found online as well. To make this activity a little more challenging you can ask the students to guess the word or phrases that have been blanked out using the context around it; and to make it simpler you can provide the first letter of the word or phrase or just provide options in a box for students to choose from.

2) Spot the Word – Teach English with Video

Another fun listening activity is to give the students a set of words or phrases that they have to listen for and check them off on a handout. This can be even set up as a bingo card and students can yell ‘Bingo’ when they have them all.

3) Spot the Still Image – Teach English with Video

Similar to the activity described above, you can provide the students with a set of still images from the movie and as the scene takes place they must let you know they’ve recognized it. This is ideal for lower level students and to ensure they pay attention while watching.

4) Match the Dialogue to the Character – Teach English with Video

Another listening activity would be to give the students a dialogue that has been mixed up and they have to match the sentences to the characters who say them. An extension to this activity would be to ask the students to pretend to be those characters and read out the dialogue trying to imitate the way the characters speak. This extension can actually be applied to many other activities and it helps develop fluency and intonation.

5) Silent Watching – Teach English with Video

Another activity is to watch a scene without any sound and ask students to guess what is happening and why. For more advanced students they can even be challenged to guess what the characters are actually saying and re-create the dialogue. As an extra challenge, you could ask them to read the lines they created as the movie plays silently. This is a great activity to help develop more speaking fluency through practice.

6) Comprehension – Teach English with Video

When watching a full movie, or full episode, comprehension questions in short answer form or multiple-choice form can help you check how much the students understood. Even students who are not good at listening skills tend to do better with movies or TV shows because the context helps them to comprehend more.

7) Write a Summary or a Review – Teach English with Video

You can ask students to write a summary in order to recommend the movie to their friends; or to write a review pretending to be a critic. Ideally you could let them read some reviews of other movies so they can understand the style in which to do it.

Other Creative Activities

Depending on the level of the students they can also interact with the plot by changing or predicting the ending if they haven’t seen it before. They can write interviews to the characters or even add ‘deleted’ scenes that they can even act out as a special project or extension of the activity.

Possible Drawbacks

Younger students, children and teenagers, will definitely welcome this kind of activity and take it as a treat or special event. You must make the most of the students’ engagement, but also be careful that they do not tune out and start doing something else because they consider it an unimportant moment in the class.

Older students could question the validity of such a fun activity, especially if they have grown up in an educational system that was quite strict and used only direct instruction. Therefore, you must make sure the aim of the lesson is clear at all times and they know that they are not just watching for fun, but also for a reason.

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Related Reading:

Using Authentic Material in TESOL: Task-Based Lesson Using Video

Authentic Material in Beginner Classrooms

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