Video is a wonderful source of language for young learners. With video, students can hear different native speaker voices supported by a visual context. Often, video also has cultural content that is hard to access in other ways. Try these video activities for language class to make the most of this powerful technology.
You can use these video activities for language class with many types of content. The descriptions are intentionally general and brief, so you can structure the activity to fit a specific video and your students. A few notes:
- I use very short videos (usually under 3 minutes) and use even smaller segments of those for specific activities. You can also do many of these activities with longer videos.
- You can adapt many of these video activities for language class to do individually, in pairs or as a large group.
- Usually, I do previewing (and narrow pre-listening) activities before we watch. Then we watch the video through without interruption. After that, we do selected activities.
- Some of these video activities for language class are more effective during a second or third viewing. Repetition is a good thing as long as kids are engaged.
- These activities work with a variety of levels as you use them with different videos. I included links to easy videos for some of the activities, but you can adapt them to videos that are right for your students and content.
This list does not include previewing activities to introduce new language or cultural content. Similarly, the list does not include follow-up activities to extend the language in the video or expand on the content. Both are very important, but this list focuses specifically on video tasks.
Transcripts are a big help for making video activities for language class. When you have the transcript you can look at the language as a whole, choose key vocabulary more easily, and pull out sentences to use. You can find printable transcripts for the Kids Learn Spanish videos here. Other videos have the text on the screen, like the Spanish Words Kids Love series, or you can make your own transcript to create activities.
Video Activities for Language Class
- Before watching, give students a list of key words. Based on the key words, students predict the content of the video.
- Students list what they know about the topic before watching.
- Before watching, do focused Spanish listening activities with the language from the video.
- As they watch, students do an action to represent a key word each time they hear it.
- Students sequence picture or word cards as they watch the video. Try this with the picture cards for Spanish Words Kids Juguetes del Mercado. You can also find a complete-the-word Spanish vowels activity with that vocabulary here.
- Sequence 3 main points from the video.
- Students mimic the actions in the video as they watch. They can use props if appropriate or pretend.
- Give students 2-3 key words to listen for. Each time they hear one of the words, they record a mark into a column (or a shape that represents the word).
- Listen for positive or negative language. Students make a thumbs up or a thumbs down when they hear positive or negative expressions.
- Listen for questions. Students make a simple gesture each time they hear one (finger in the air or finger curved into question mark).
- Give the students questions asking for specific information and read through them. When they hear the answer, they repeat the information aloud. For example, the question might be ¿Dónde vive el hermano de Jorge? When they hear Tengo un hermano, un poco menor que yo, que vive en España, the students would repeat España.
- Pause the video. Ask students to say the last word they heard. Ask them to guess what the next word will be.
- Play Dilo así. Pause the video. Students repeat a short phrase they just heard, imitating the speaker. You can give students the written phrases first. This is fun with dramatic speakers.
- Watch a very short segment of the video and order 3-5 sentences. This works with any group of related sentences, but is particularly fun with a short dialog. Follow up by practicing the dialog.
- Answer questions about things in the video that were not said, based on visual clues. For example, you might have questions like ¿De qué color es la bicicleta? ¿Qué hacen las personas detrás de los jóvenes con los guantes de box? ¿Cuántos balones hay en el parque?. Give students the questions after they have seen the video at least twice. Have them guess the answers before they watch again. This is a fun way to get extra exposure to the language in a video. Try it with the Spanish Words Kids Love ¿Qué Tiene? video using the questions above.
- Say sentences from the video in different voices or with different emotions.
- Give students a set of key words to cross them off as they hear them. If you do a medios de transporte unit, this is a good activity to do with beginners using this Spanish words for transportation video.
- Students call out items from a category when they see them. For example, furniture, animals, clothes, vehicles, etc.
- Play ¿Qué ves? – Students call out what they see on the screen. Use full sentences by adding the verb hay or veo. Make this easier for beginners by providing a list of words.
- Play ¿Qué hace? – Use verbs in the third person to say what a person or animal is doing on the screen. Students call out the answers. Make this easier for beginners by providing a list of verbs and acting them out first.
- Pause the video and describe the people, action and setting on the screen in the third person. Hay un hombre. Es viejo. Hay una mujer y un niño. Están afuera. La mujer tiene una bolsa. This can be a speaking or writing activity.
- Do a labeling activity. Pause the video and make a “drawing” to represent the position of objects and people on the screen (shapes and stick figures work fine!). Label the drawing. If you are projecting the video on a surface kids can write on, the class can also label on the board.
- Students write questions about the video, exchange papers, and answer their partner’s questions.
- Pause the video and ask students to predict what will happen next. Ask about the next immediate action or the more general story line.
- Ask students to write “chapter titles” for sections of the video.
- Rate the video. You can use stars for a general rating and also list specific aspects of the content or production for students to evaluate. You can also have students write comments about what they liked and didn’t like.
Because video creates a world with images, sounds and language, it is an excellent source of comprehensible input. You have to choose videos carefully and provide support, but there are many video activities for language class that your students will love.