Are your students movie junkies?
Lots of ESL students like to watch films when they have the chance. It’s an entertaining way for them to practice their receptive language skills. And if movies are a weekend event for your students, and they probably are, have you tried making original movies in class? Having students film their own flicks has lots of benefits, and there are lots of different ways you can create original videos with your students. Here are some ideas if you are ready to give in class filming a try as well as the reasons why you should give them a try.
4 Reasons You Should Make Original Videos in Class
Low on the entertainment scale but high on the benefits scale are recorded interviews with your students. If you do regular speaking evaluations through interviews, you are 99% of the way to making interview videos with your students. All you have to do it prop up a smartphone where it can film your student and hit record. If possible, use your student’s phone rather than your own, but don’t hesitate to use yours if they don’t have one. After your interview, you will grade your students based on certain criteria. Give your students that same criteria and have them evaluate their own video as well. Then see how closely your scores match. Throughout the process, your students will become more aware of their pronunciation and fluency. As a bonus, you can show them an early video at the end of the year and they can see how much they have improved.
Monster Movie Marathon
This video production will take more time, but your students should be able to complete the project in a few hours. And your class will be talking about this project for the rest of the year. Start by giving them a general script for a typical monster movie. You can include the following scenes.
- Movie title and credits
- The creation of the monster
- Introduction of the main characters including the hero
- The destruction of the city
- The failed attempt to destroy the monster
- The hero figuring out how to kill the monster
- The destruction of the monster
- The end where everything is back to normal
Feel free to give as many or as few specifics for each scene as you like. Then put your students in groups of five or six students and give them free reign to make their own movies using whatever props you have available in class. Once everyone has completed their videos, pop some popcorn, dim the lights, and project the movies on the big screen. (Make sure you have all the necessary cables ahead of time.) When you see the movies, you will know how well your students’ followed the written directions for each scene their movie should have included. In other words, you will get a measure of their reading comprehension. As they watch, your students will be able to see themselves on camera and evaluate their English skills that way, too. Most of all, it’s a great event and lots of fun for everyone in class.
Skit on Tape
Skits are always fun for ESL classes. When you have your students compose an original skit, even if you assign the topic, both you and your students reap the benefits. Your students get to be creative when they come up with the skit specifics. You get to see their grammar skills in action when you judge the accuracy of the dialogue. More outgoing students get to take more prominent roles while quieter students still contribute even if they don’t say much in the skit itself. And everyone is entertained when they see their classmates in front of the room putting their all in to the final performance. You can increase the benefits if you also video the skit while your students perform it. Because it is being recorded, the stress on your students will increase. In this case, stress is a good thing because it will cause your students to use English more naturally, and you will get a more authentic read on how well they speak English sentences and pronounce English words. Like other videos, your students can also do self-evaluation when they watch their performance later. And you will have something fun to screen at the end of the school year.
Class News Tonight
Do your students watch the nightly news? If they haven’t, you might want to screen a typical program in class. When you do, point out to your students how the newscasters make eye contact with the camera and use a more formal manner of speaking. You may even want to point out that newscasters use a neutral accent (called newscasterese). Once you have watched a news program with your students, have them record their own news program. Divide your class into groups of three to five students. Two students will be the anchors in their video. One person will be the camera operator. And other students can be the weather forecaster and sports reporter. Let your students make up their own stories (either true or fictional) and then record their news program. You might want to encourage them to dress appropriately for their roles and to keep notes on sheets of paper on their desk in front of them like many newscasters do. Once your students have recorded their own news programs, play them for the class. It will be entertaining to the entire class, but you will also have the chance to evaluate your students’ formal use of English, something you probably don’t have much opportunity for in class.
You probably use videos all the time in class, but how many original videos do your students produce?
If you haven’t tired video production with your students, give it a shot. You might be surprised at how much fun it is and how many benefits it offers.