Welcome to Language Latte: a conversation about teaching world languages. This is Becky Morales from Kid World Citizen, and I am your host. Today we are talking about using photos and videos in class. Treat yourself to a latte, and settle in, so we can start our chat!
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In this episode we are discussing the use of media in our classrooms. Photos and videos are excellent authentic resources, whether as curiosity-inducing speaking/writing prompts, a look into cultural insights, an introduction of vocabulary, or as a source of comprehensible input. We look at why and how media is effective in engaging students in class, and then you are going to love the 6 activities that Sarah Breckley shares in her interview. She shares the best activities in which she is using photos and videos in class with her students.
Have you ever used photos in any of your world language classes? What about video clips? Tweet me @kidworldcitizen and let me know what kinds of activities you’ve done in your classes with photos and videos, or join in the discussion in our Language Latte facebook group.
Visual literacy has played an important role in the lives of humans throughout history. Before the earliest civilizations- back to the early humans- humans had the ability to look at, understand, interpret and create images, from cave paintings to rock etchings.
Now, with images and videos being pervasive and at our fingertips for 24/7 streaming, it’s no wonder teachers are using media in class to engage students. Media truly is one of the most valued tools in language teaching and learning. When we wield high interest photos and videos, we can harness the power of curiosity, even in reserved students.
Several recent studies have looked at the benefits of using media in class with language learners. I will have the links to everything I mention during this episode in the show notes.
The first study published in English Language Teaching evaluated the effectiveness of a video-based curriculum in motivating EFL learners to learn English. According to the researchers, the students had very low motivation for learning English. Previous studies have shown that videos were valuable for teaching L2 culture and for learning vocabulary. But this was a new question for researchers: “How can we make EFL students participate more in the classroom and become more motivated to learn English?” I’m sure we have ALL had students with less than ideal motivation to learn the target language.
During their 8 week, high school English program in Korea, teachers used TED talks, sitcoms, TV news reports, and movies clips as their main study material. They chose highly-engaging clips from “Friends”, and “Modern Family,” TED Talks like “How School Kills Creativity” and “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” short clips from movies like the “Avengers” and “Frozen,” and finally a clips from the CBS News.
Before watching, key expressions and vocabulary were taught by the instructor. After watching, various group activities and games followed.
What do you think happened at the end of the 8 weeks? After the program, more students agreed that learning English was fun and that they enjoyed learning English. Students with negative attitudes showed a significant difference and responded much more positively in the questionnaire. Overall, this study has shown that teaching English by using video clips is effective in improving student motivation and drawing out participation. That is golden.
The second study I want to mention was carried out with low level students in an English Language prep class in Turkey. In the 5 week program, teachers used online videos, each watched multiple times. The clips were taken from YouTube, BBC, VOA and TED and included subtitles and text. Teachers used supplemental activities during and after the videos to improve comprehension. Results show that those who watched videos improved their speaking ability and scored higher than those who didn’t; and that students were able to interact more appropriately and convey their messages more easily after watching the videos.
These are only 2 studies among others that tout the benefits of using media in world language classes. Before we get to our fabulous guest- who is going to give 6 really exceptional activities for you- I’d like to also share with you some amazing sources of videos and photos to use in any language class.
I will start with some sources for fascinating images, that express feelings and ideas, convey messages, and tell stories.
First: the New York Times picture of the week. Intriguing Times images from around the world, stripped of their captions, and an invitation to students to discuss them live. In a language class, you can guide the discussion.
The New York Times also has a different set of photos, called “Picture Prompts” which are paired with prompts for journal writing or additional discussion.
National Geographic also has a huge collection of photos, maps, lesson plans, and reference resources. You can search their database, and it’s a great way to showcase individual countries’ traditions, celebrations, or even geography and landmarks.
I also love to use authentic art pieces from the countries that speak our target languages. Google Arts and Culture (which I will link to), is an online platform where users select a museum from over 1000 collections, in 18 languages. There are virtual gallery tours like Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City and the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, plus over 32,000 masterpieces to view. It is mind-blowing, and the educational tools they have- like quizzes and additional information for teachers- is really worthwhile.
One you find some photos that work for you, there are endless ways to use them:
At the very beginning levels you can use adjectives, colors, and numbers to describe the pictures to your students, and ask them comprehensible questions.
If your students are beginning to speak the target language, have them describe the photos either in partners or as a class. This oral activity could also be turned into a writing activity.
Students could also make up questions about the photo, or write a story about what happened before it was taken, or what will happen next.
Moving on to videos, one of the most popular ways to use clips in class in beginner and low level classes, is by doing a movietalk. I have been doing Movie Talks in my ESL classes since I graduated in 2000, but the technique has recently become popular in world languages classes as a CI activity- an opportunity to provide comprehensible input with high-interest material. I am including a link of the history and research behind Movie Talks, and if you click through there are examples. In the show notes, I will add in some videos of Movie Talks being done in class!
Short films and those sweet, wordless films are great places to start because you can dictate what is happening. There is a collaborative MovieTalk database with HUNDREDS of clips from youtube to use.
Commercials are fantastic, small doses of target language, often showcasing humor and vocab for students. You can look up commercials on youtube for example by typing in “French commercials.” I know a lot of Spanish teachers just held a bracket for their students to select the most popular Christmas commercials in Spanish. My kids and I watched the youtube playlist- we laughed, we cried, we were glued to the screen. I will include a link to that fun project, which can be easily replicated for any language- and not just for Christmas either!
Finally, TED-Ed has incredible lessons for more advanced ESL classes, with a curated collection of videos that include discussion questions. Now, as more TED events are happening around the world, you can google to find TED talks in the language you are teaching- in fact my daughters and I just went to a TED event here in Mexico, and I know those talks are on-line. These are really for more advanced students.
These are just a couple of ideas to get started. I am going to link several more articles that list multiple ways teachers are using photos and videos in class- specifically in world language classes. Next season, we have another episode I am preparing all about making your own videos to use in class, so stay tuned!
Interview with Sarah Breckley
And now, let’s get to our guest! Sarah Breckley currently teaches high school Spanish language and culture, coordinates travel immersion experiences for her students, produces a vlog to share classroom videos with teachers around the world, and presents her strategies at workshops and conferences. She has also taught at the Concordia Language Villages and as a Global Discovery Leader for CIEE in Sevilla, España. Sarah has been selected as a Generation Study Abroad Fellow, as a Kohl Fellow, and also as a Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year in 2017.
Welcome to the show Sarah!
1) Tell me about yourself.
I’m originally from Southern California, so many of my friends where hispanic growing up. That’s where my intrigue and love for languages developed. I’d hang out with my friend Yessica, and desperately wanted to be able to speak this love code they shared. I’ve studied in Spain and Mexico, and I try to spend time in a Spanish speaking country at least once a year, either with my students or traveling with my husband.
I currently teach high school Spanish language and culture. Our department facilitates the UW-Green Bay College Credit in High School program, so if students earn an A or B in Spanish V our seniors transfer with 14 University of Wisconsin college credits. My favorite method to provide CI is to turn up the fun and goofy. I produce a vlog to share lots of these classroom happenings and videos with teachers around the world. When I can find the time I present my strategies at conferences.
2. Why do you think using photos and videos in class helps to engage students?
Well, you know who students think is the most interesting and engaging??? Themselves! And before we can expect them to learn about a unique world culture, we need to show them that their culture also matters to us. It’s easier to visualize where these kids are coming from when we use their personal photos and videos. In addition, it’s super motivating for language learners when they can actually understand you. Film and photography are engaging because they provide live comprehension proof to the students. They hear the L2, negotiate meaning, and see the confirmation right in front of them.
3. What are some of your favorite things to DO with the photos and videos you show your students?
I have put together 6 activities for using photos and videos in class, that my students and I love:
1) A super fun film library I like to access contains my personal home videos. Students are interested in our lives, and if we want them to eventually produce language about themselves we must model taking part in this vulnerable state in advance. I tell comprehensible stories, do movie talks, and use personalized questions and answers with using some tacky wedding clips and a super flashy/sequence-y show choir performance! We have some great laughs.
- It’s important to provide whatever vocabulary and structures you think they’ll need written on the board in advance, so that you can pause and point for maximum CI and production.
- Allow for lots of recycling and repeating of the target structures throughout the discussions
- I always prioritize fluency and proficiency over accuracy in the process; and I don’t correct errors unless I can’t understand at all .
2) The follow up activity is to secretly email guardians and ask for student videos and pics, or just search for some online. When I compile the files, I put each picture in a slideshow, and at the bottom I number the slides 1 of 10, 2 of 10, etc, so that the students stay engaged the whole time – wondering if they will be on the next surprise.
- To make these conversations and circling more advanced, I have a list of key follow up words I hang on the back wall for myself. These words coerce the students into sharing more than the easiest language that’s always on the tip of their tongues. For example…
- if a student says, “HE LIKES DOGS”, I can say, WHY?
- if a student says, “HE BOUGHT A HAMBURGER.” I can say, “YES, AND???”
- if a student says, “HE’S ASLEEP,” I say, “THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN”
- if a student says, “SHE IS NICE,” I can say, “BUUUUUUTTT…”
3) www.PICLITS.com – Another great resource is a website that uses photography and word banks to improve literacy & language skills. Students see a picture and can drag and drop related words from a website generated word bank – that the teacher doesn’t even have to generate – to show comprehension via labeling or capturing the meaning. The teacher can make this more advanced using the free write text box option, but in that case I’m not sure you’d need the website at all. Students could use a google doc to add Speech bubbles, meme quotes, summary sentences, or even stories to photos you or they upload.
4) For current events and culturally-related pics I have an amazing website to share: Reuters Pictures. At this site you can access over 1600 news images each day, from a network of 600 photographers, including photographers from your target language countries. They are all dated so you don’t have to do a news research on your own if your goal is simply to find photos.
I insert these into a presentation on two slides. On first slide I like to crop the image so that you can only see a small-but-interesting part of it. I let students guess what the picture is about, predict what the headline is, guess the country of origin and so much more. After as much communication as you want, click next to see the image in its entirety. The suspense and resolution helps keep them engaged in the cultural discussion.
5) Photo scavenger hunts are always fun. I email the staff the day before so they know that my students will be out and about, I put students in groups, and at least one has access to a camera phone. My students run around the school with a picture hunt list that can be as novice or advanced as you want it to be. For example…
- Take a picture of someone you admire
- Take a picture of something red
- Take a picture of something that would need in an emergency
- Take a picture of something that represents your personal culture
- Take a picture of where you sit at lunch
After 15 minutes, students return and quickly airdrop the photos to my iPhone, upload them to a shared google folder or place their phones under my doc cam to share.
It’s so fun to view and PQA these as a class afterwards. Engagement is high, which leads to increased language learning, and I print and hang them around the room for the rest of the year – community photos!
6) The last activity I have to share is Picture Dictation. It’s kinda like running dictation, but for advanced learners who are ready for output.
- I put the students in groups of 3 around the room, and I place a picture in the center of the room or outside that can only be seen if you are right next to it.
- Student A – is The Artist – this person sits at the desk with blank paper and a marker behind one of those folding cardboard testing walls, ready to listen and draw.
- Student B – is the The Describer. This student goes to the picture and returns to the artist to help him or her recreate the image.
- Student C – The Scribe writes what the describer says to the artist, so that they can compare everything when it’s over.
When I call time, all Artists bring the paper to the front so that we can pick a winner – the drawing which is most like the original.
I recently presented on Entertaining Input at CI MIDWEST
Keep your eyes peeled – I may be presenting on Teaching with Student Actors for Comprehensible Online.
I’ll also be presenting on Edutainment at the MITTEN CI conference on April 26th & 27th.
John Bracey, Tina Hargaden and I are doing a 2-day workshop in Portland, OR on using our Bodies and Voices to increase comprehension & SLA on Monday & Tuesday – Feb 11 & 12th. (here’s the CI Liftoff registration).
But, the BEST way to learn without any monetary loss is to watch teachers teaching in their classrooms. I just posted a video call to all teachers to share their classroom videos online to save students around the world with authentic online PD and it went teacher viral – that’s what I call 10k views, LOL. So search for us – your online PLC – on YouTube.
Additional Reading about Using Photos and Videos in the Classroom
Park, Yujong; Jung, Eunsu (2016). “Exploring the Use of Video-Clips for Motivation Building in a Secondary School EFL Setting.” English Language Teaching, v9 n10 p81-89.
Yükselir, Ceyhun; Kömür, Sevki (2017). “Using Online Videos to Improve Speaking Abilities of EFL Learners.” Online Submission, European Journal of Education Studies, v3 n5 p255-266.
ETpedia has a special list of 10 ways that include memes, infographics, and augmented reality.
Harry Grover Tuttle wrote an article back in 1975 that lists 50 ways of using photos and videos in class (specifically in world language classes), and you can download the pdf here.