Listen, Laugh, and Learn: 6 Ideas for Video-based Activities (Part 2)

Are you interested in exploring more video-based activities? Here are the other three I promised.

4. Catching a liar. Honesty is a great topic to discuss with students because it can be placed within so many different contexts depending on the kind of learners you are working with. You can discuss the need for honesty at home, at school, in personal relationships, or in the workplace. BuzzFeedVideo has a two-minute clip on How to Tell If Someone Is Lying to You. Because the clip is short, you might require at least two viewings. First, you could ask students to come to class having watched the clip once and written the basic signs that tell you a person is lying (forgiving the lack of parallel structure since it’s not used in the video!): eye movement, hiding body parts, grooming, head movement, and audible cues. Then in class you can assign small groups of students a particular sign and have them be responsible for noting as many details or examples possible during a group viewing of the clip.  Just as volunteers spoke in the video, one student from each small group can speak for 15 seconds on an assigned topic. The class must use the information learned from the video to explain why they think the speaker is telling the truth or lying. If you wish to combine this listening activity with grammar, consider my Bluffing game that requires use of the present perfect and simple past.

5. Trying to live longer. BuzzFeedYellow has a two-minute clip on How to Live to 100. As a pre-listening task, ask students to make their own lists. Require 3-5 items. Students may share their ideas with the class or with a partner.  As a second pre-listening task, invite them to make predictions as a class. You can prepare them by telling them the main topics: diet, exercise, and positive attitude. Can they guess the specific ideas and advice that will be presented in the video? As they watch the video, they can confirm their predictions and also compare their lists to what is presented. Do they agree or disagree? Perhaps additions or changes to their lists will occur after watching the video. In small groups, students can be challenged to compile their lists and submit only one. Each student can argue the necessity of including a particular item. This language topic works nicely with modal verbs (You should exercise every day.) or expressions of reason and result (Because of/ thanks to/ due to her vegetarian diet, the woman feels much healthier.) An optional activity can be to watch a second related video by List25 and compare ideas.  Check out 25 Ways You Can Live A Longer Life. Are there any items that appear on both lists?

6. Talking about strange foods. “Strange” is a subjective word, as is “delicious.” You’d need to be sensitive if you work with BuzzFeedYellow’s Americans Taste Exotic Asian Foods. However, touching upon cultural differences and differences in perception can be a very positive experience in an international classroom. The point isn’t to mock or insult, but rather to laugh at our natural reactions to things that are very different. This very human tendency is what can unite a mixed group as they come to a shared understanding. I once had a group of students write about the strangest thing they ever ate. One student had the insight to write about a favorite snack that was familiar to her but likely strange to her peers in the ESL classroom. The dish? – Fried grasshoppers. The goal was to create a descriptive writing that appealed to the senses, and students also learned about one another’s preferences. The video could be used to set the context for a discussion about strange foods and foods common in one’s culture. This in turn could lead to a short writing assignment: (1) Write one paragraph about the strangest food you ever tasted. OR (2) Write one paragraph describing a food you like, but which is not likely found in other countries. Alternatively, students could be assigned a Web search for a recipe for one of the foods mentioned by a classmate. For example, can they find and then explain how exactly to prepare fried grasshoppers?


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