Sparking Conversation Through Video

Recently I was looking for a way to add some interest to the vocabulary review at the end of a family celebration unit.  Students can only read so many letters from Marta about her birthday party before they lose all interest in participating in class.

I was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and realized that so much of my students’ vocabulary could be seen in the clips.  So I searched through YouTube and found very short “AFV” style clips that incorporated their current vocabulary terms.  The next day I had the clips lined up on my computer.  This is not a case of watching a 45-minute video for the entire class and discussing it the 30 seconds before the bell rings.  I truly tried to keep the clips under 30 seconds.  A lot can happen in those 30 seconds to spark basic speaking practice and the students really enjoyed talking about the clips.  As I played them, I asked the students to call out in the target language (full sentences, if possible) the things they saw.  In upper levels, I’ve asked students to give more complex sentences, including multiple tenses, opinions, etc.  They can even start a short debate about which was their favorite.

You’d be surprised by the number of short useful clips you can find in any one topic area.  For my family celebration unit, I found clips with piñatas, surprises, balloons, music, gifts, and the list goes on.  The humor in the videos really grasps the students’ attention. It’s off YouTube, so it is more appealing to young people than the preplanned, textbook scripted videos.


Erin Troncone
Northern HS, Calvert County