Teaching English with Videos Part Two by Hall Houston

In this article, I will give a few suggestions for finding and using video clips in the classroom.


Finding useful video clips is easy with YouTube’s search feature. One suggestion is to do a search for “2013’s funniest videos” or “2013 viral videos” or “hilarious TV commercials”. If you do a search on Google, you might come up with pages like this:


Time Magazine – YouTube’s 50 Best Videos



Stylist Magazine – The 20 Best Viral Videos of All Time



About.com – The Top 20 Viral Videos



However, seek out other types of videos as well. Music videos, short film clips, film trailers, and short animated films also can be effective.


When choosing a clip, here are some key considerations:


  • Consider if the content will interest your students. If you’re not sure that your students will find the clip as entertaining as you do, you might show it to a local friend to get his/her reaction.
  • Aim for a short video. If a video runs on too long, you might want to just show a brief segment.
  • If you play videos for your students on a regular basis, try to mix it up. One week show a beer commercial, the next week a scene from a horror film, and the next week a music video.
  • Make sure that the level of language in the clip matches your students’ level. If the clip is too challenging for your students, you can try breaking it into shorter segments, providing a transcript or even a translation in Chinese.
  • Watch the film clip carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain anything your students might find offensive.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Sometimes you can’t find the clip you want or the computer breaks down. Bring a few extra activities to class just in case.
  • Ask students to share their favorite videos with you. They might introduce you to some that might go over very well with the whole class.


In the next part of this series, I will introduce a simple framework that you can use to create your own video-based lessons.


>> Continue to Part 3 >>



Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It's for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. He has written 3 books: The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT, and The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL

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