Over the years, I have noticed a tendency for video to be associated with listening activities.

To an extent, this makes sense - after all, we are language teachers and the most obvious linguistic component of video is the audio component (conversations, interviews, narrator's voice, etc.)

But, of course, this doesn't have to be the case.

SteveM left a comment on the article 'Video for the English Classroom' in which he describes a lovely activity which involves a short story on YouTube (see here). The video, which is titled Blind Date, contains no spoken language and so Steve makes use of the visual narrative - i.e. a description of what happens in the story.

Steve's activity is predominantly a language-production one. In other words, the main task is for students to write or recount what happens in the story.

Steve could very easily have used the clip for a reading activity. For example, he could have written a description of what happens in the story, chopped the text up into pieces, asked students to put the pieces into the correct order and then showed them the video and allow them to correct their work.

Video lends itself very elegantly to reading activities like these. Here is another idea:

Read the following monologues and decide, where is the person who speaking? In other words, what are the three missing words?

"Well in my left hand I have a, a feather. In my right hand, a hammer. And I guess one of the reasons (uh) we got here today was because of a gentleman named Galileo (a) long time ago who made a rather significant discovery about falling objects in gravity fields and we thought that (uh) where would be a better place to confirm his (uh) findings than ____  ____  ______ and (uh) so we thought we’d try it here for you and the feather happens to be appropriately a falcon feather from our falcon and I’ll (uh) drop the two of them here and hopefully they’ll hit the ground at the same time. How about that? That proves that Mr Galileo was correct in his findings."

And now the answer:


So basically, we have considered two possibilities for using video for reading activities:

  1. Transcribe the visual narrative and use it as the written text
  2. Transcribe the audio language and use it as the written text

On one of the other threads, someone asked how video can be used to prepare students for reading papers in exams. Any ideas?