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?



Jamie, I like your idea of trascribing audio or video material to use it for reading. Such activity will reinforce the language that the students have already listened to (vocabualry & grammar) and will also help them learn the content of the audio or video (social science, history, medicine, etc). Why not use the same idea with more academic videos such as national geographic or any scientific videos because most reading papers in the students' majors are scientific in nature. So, I would transcribe part of a lecture or a scientific video, have the students listen and answer comprehension questions, check vocabualry in pairs and in the dictionary, and finally transform the ephemeral experience of hearing the language into a solid experience by seeing the language: by having them read and re-read for general understanding and for details. A cloze test exercise can follow. Delete the language that you want the students to notice (new words for exmaple). The only pitfall is the time it would take to transcribe any audio or video material. But once it's done, it can be used again and again for eternity.   So in short, to prepare students for reading papers in exams have audio or video material similar in nature to the papers they would have to read, transcribe them, and do comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar activities on the same material. Hussain  

Hello HussainYes - there really is no genre of video that can't be used in this way. Academic videos lend themsleves to the technique as well. Have you ever come across the TED website? (http://www.ted.com/) TED stands for Technology Education and Design. The website is host to hundreds of short talks and presentations, many of them academic in nature. The great thing is that they are all transcribed.So have a look at a talk and click on the Open Active Transcript link at the top right hand of the screen:http://www.ted.com/talks/conrad_wolfram_teaching_kids_real_math_with_computers.htmlHope you find something you like!