Listen, Laugh, and Learn: 6 Ideas for Video-based Activities (Part 1)

While poking around on YouTube, I came across a number of interesting videos that could easily be incorporated into a language lesson to engage learners and prompt production. I began looking at top ten lists, which I’ve explored in a previous post, but quickly moved into other video formats. Here are six that caught my attention and inspired a few ideas for upper level students.

1. Debunking myths. There are a number of videos with titles like “Facts You Believed But Aren’t Really True.”  List25 and BuzzFeedVideo offer a few interesting ones, but I couldn’t readily see their sources to verify their information. The one I liked the most was produced by HouseholdHacker. See Myth Hacking – 5 things you thought were true but aren’t. What’s great about this list is that it’s short, making the video convenient for classroom use. Also, the information is practical. With any of these lists, I suggest making a pre-listening quiz with true-false items for each myth debunked in the video. (With the longer lists, you might choose to focus only on the top ten facts.) Have students take the quiz with a partner. Then the class can watch to correct their answers. With the HouseholdHacker video, students could then be invited to share their own know-how and state a practical tip using target language, such as the real conditional or modals of necessity (e.g., you should try lemon juice to remove freckles).

2. Doing self-reflection. BuzzFeedVideo has a video called Are You Right-Brained of Left-Brained? Who doesn’t like to laugh and reflect on their tendencies? This short video is under two minutes and is already in quiz format. See if your students are aware of their dominant side before watching the video. Can anyone explain what it means to be right-brained or left-brained? Students can take the quiz as they watch. A couple viewings may be necessary, and pausing will likely be needed as they note their answers on a piece of paper. Have students discuss their findings in small groups. Pull out key vocabulary from the video (pause at 1:12 for visual, outspoken, etc. and pause again at 1:21 for verbal, analytical, etc.), so they can try to incorporate the words in their conversation.

3. Describing others. BuzzFeedVideo has another video just under three minutes called What Your Handwriting Says About You. Start by asking students what they think about their own handwriting. Did they take penmanship classes in school as children? Have students copy a sentence from the board or try a short dictation. Suggestion: Many people don’t think much about their handwriting because we do so much typing these days. Have students exchange papers and then watch the video. Afterwards, they may sit with their partner and try to analyze their partner’s writing sample. You can facilitate this part by first having them complete a cloze exercise that summarizes the insights. Example: “If you have rounded letters you are _____ and creative.” (Answer: artistic) They can refer to the text as they look at their partner’s writing. As an independent writing assignment, students may write one paragraph stating whether they agree or disagree with the information in the video.

There are many other videos to base activities on. I tend to favor the ones from BuzzFeedVideo. I’ll share three more of my top picks in the next post!


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