Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Descriptive Video for the English Language classrom

Using descriptive videos in teaching and learning English

Meral, Ozge, Gizem and I created this video to teach comparatives and superlatives for new English learners. This was part fulfillment for the group project in CTE319.
  • As a group, we thought that the students may be confused about these two topics, even though they have seen the grammar and done lots of exercises in the course books.  
  • So, we thought that they might better consolidate what they know by watching this video.

    How to make a descriptive video

    We go the idea of creating a descriptive video from Mr Fogle, a teacher in America, who shared the process he used with his elementary school students.  We found that that this approach can be meaningful for groups of students of any age.

    We followed Mr. Fogle's steps easily.  It took us some time to come up with the scenario, but while shooting the video, we tried to do our best, so it took 3 hours in total. 

    While creating our video according to Mr Fogle's steps, we had a second camera to show the 'behind the scenes' of us creating the video.  You can see here how we arranged the camera, read the script and animated the pictures and graphics.  If you watch this, you will know exactly how we shot the video.


    We took pictures while we were making the video, and produced this Stupeflix video to document the process.

    So what?  How can descriptive videos improve learning?

    This video can be used to motivate and warm up the students to the lesson before introducing comparatives and superlatives.
    • If they know a little about the play, "Waiting for Godot", the video would be more meaningful.  In using this with students, we might get them to read about the play first, in their L1 (For Turkish, start them off here:
    • You can apply the standard techniques in using a video, such as playing it without sound at first to elicit the language, get them to retell the video after watching it, etc.
    • For a weak class, you might like to review some of the adjectives used in the video, so they can concentrate on the form.
    Upon reflection

    In fact, shooting the video made us as ELT teachers-in-training remember and review our own knowledge about the topic of comparatives and superlatives.
    • So, rather than teachers creating these videos, perhaps students could be asked to create their own descriptive videos based on their own understanding of the language they are learning.
    • While preparing the video, I learned that there should be at least three members in the group because a lot of interesting ideas came up from the members and this made the entire process from brainstorming to publishing the video enjoyable.
    • Also, it is impossible to create the video with the active participation of at least four people.  This is a good exercise in cooperative and collaborative learning.

    1 comment:

    1. I've tried the descriptive video idea myself and mys students loved it. Even more promising was the fact that they had to do it withint one week from the ened of the semester. Three groups participated. I kept it voluntary, though I added the comment that I would consider this a big effec ton their performance grades. My students came up with three videos. In the first one, they used pictures drawn by themselves on cards(self-generated) as clues to follow the overall plot. Here is the video:

      The second one had some effects and music at the background, which they chose since that was my favorite - I think I should feel pleased to have such a favor at this point. The link is:

      The last one was rather different from the first two; they preferred a picture story, without sound, but with subtitles (as a file with a -srt extension handed in with the video to me). The video (without the subtitles) is here:

      I have prepared activities for each one. Overall, the first two activities consisted of basic comprehension questions. I must agree that this task could as well be done by the groups providing the videos like what Talip did with his class. I was simply out of time and a bit behind the schedule to ask for that.

      For the last video - picture story- though, there was enough space for contingency, exploitation and improvisation. Since the video was mute, I had to provide the students with musci ( a song they like to listen while doing gap-fill activities that don't require interactive participation). Before playing the video, I informed them that their task was to create a dialogue looking at the pictures and inferring from the context. The video was intended to be used for the instruction of present perfect and present perfect continuous and they did well in doing so - the students participating in the video as actors were talented, including a volunteer working in the drama club and an amateur photographer working in the cinema club. Students, having seen the video without subtitles, tried to create a dialogue that fits the situation. At the second step, I asked them (volunteer pairs) to read their dialogues out loud when the video was on. After the first try - since they did not expect to synchronize their dialogue with the streaming video - I asked the same pair to read the dialogue again, this time with a bit of improvisation to accompany their dialogue. The outcome was a dialogue that was very similar to that of the vidoe although the main focus of grammar (present perfect simple vs. present perfect continuous) required from the students were not covered. As a final step,, I gave them a simple task with Wh___ questions so as to test their comprehension and played the whole video with the subtitles on.

      The outcome was great since the students really enjoyed the lesson and they were glad to give feedback after each video, on the technical problems - good points as well as the way the language in focus was presented. 3 videos (taking 1-3 minutes each) made up the whole lesson including with the discussion, chat and the comprehension tasks that followed.

      Steve, thanks a lot for telling me about the idea. It was of great help.