Designing Video Lessons

I hear often from teachers about how video is such a powerful media form to use in the English teaching classroom. But at the same time, I also hear how difficult it can be to actually design a full lesson based around a video. So it is a catch 22, it seems. 

So should teachers resign themselves to just having students study video in a self-directed fashion, maybe through extensive watching alonel?  No. not at all. While I sympathize with the view that designing a lesson using video is difficult, it needn’t be so. Here are 5 of my fav. super simple ways to design a video based lesson that work every time. Each with an excellent example, all prepared. 

I’ll also recommend that teachers “take a gander” at my  50 Ways To Use Video In The Classroom for more inspiration.  Also, see our video resource category here on ELT Buzz.

1. Sequencing.   This is really easy. Find a short video with about 8 to 15 lines. Movie trailers are often perfect.  Put the lines into a table and print out. Cut up. Students watch the video first. Then, provide them with the cut out strips of lines from the video. Ask them to put in order. Play the video again and let them check/correct. Re-play as many times as necessary. Finally, play the video without sound and have the students narrate and act out the lines like the speakers in the video. 

Get a full example HERE using the movie trailer – The Imitation Game.

2. Prediction.  A staple of the creative teacher, prediction is a technique to get students engaged in a video with a strong narrative and prompt them to use English. 

Simply find a video with a strong narrative thread. For example this story –  The Eyebrow Story. Play and at certain points, stop and ask students in pairs or groups to tell each other what will happen next. Continue and see if they are correct. And so on …. You might also use short videos prepared specifically for prediction as shown here – What’s Next.

3. Listening Cloze.  Find a short video with a transcript. On YouTube many of the videos allow you to download or copy the transcript.

Next, just use the handy worksheet maker.  It’s super simple to use or just copy and paste in a document and edit out the words for students to listen for.  Then students listen and fill in the gaps.  First let them have a go at using a wordbank and filling in words they think go in the blanks. 

4.  Compare.    Take a few videos of a similar genre, commercials work well but there are many other types (music videos, cartoons, news reports, short video stories etc…  Play each and as students watch, they must fill in a chart  rating the video for different criteria. Here’s a chart for commercials.

5. Dictation.  Running dictation is a popular activity with teachers but why not do it with a video instead of a text? Simply replace the text with a video and put some smart phones around the class. Students run to the smartphones, listen to the video and return to tell their “secretary” what was said. First group to complete the transcript correctly wins!


There are so many other ways to use video in a super simple fashion! Try and you’ll be surprised at the power of video to help students learn English and how motivating it is. Of course, best to download the videos for offline use in class and EFL Buzz offers teachers this for most videos. It’s important to know you can rely on using the video in class. 

Also published on Medium.

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