Get Students Practicing Language With Video

Photo by  Jakob Owens

Photo by Jakob Owens


One of the most useful practical skills that any language student can have is to be able to verbally explain what they what to communicate. But so many times there is a vast divide that must be crossed in order for a student to feel comfortable connecting words when speaking.

Practice is the only way that students can jump that vast divide to be comfortable speaking. How can a teacher manage a group of 2 or 3 dozen students and ensure that all of them practice speaking? Using video is one great way, and that is what this article will focus on.

A Private Collaborative Youtube Playlist

In a previous article on getting language students speaking, I discussed several activities where students are prompted to describe what they see, or have a conversation with someone else. While these activities get students speaking, they don’t give the class much material to build on learning.

This is why it’s a great idea take the activities discussed in my previous article, have students video their responses, then upload these videos to a private class Youtube Playlist.

To get started, you’ll want to create a Youtube Channel dedicated to your classes. Then you need to create a Playlist that can be shared with collaborators (see the link for how to do this). Then share the Playlist with your students so they can upload their videos.

I would suggest making separate playlists for each assignment. This way, students will know what objectives are being worked on. This will also make it easier for students to comment on each others work.

As a follow up assignment to having a conversation, and uploading it to the dedicated private Playlist, have students comment in the target language on at least 5 of the other videos. This will keep students leveling up on their learning, and it will allow students to help each other in their language learning.

Flipgrid for Class Videos

Flipgrid is a tool that was built to mimic the above process, but the tech is simpler and involves less steps to operate. For each grid, an educator posts a topic, and students video themselves responding via video to the topic. For an example of what this looks like, see this Flipgrid for a #DitchBook chat.

This is a great way to get students chatting, and the shared nature of the videos holds them accountable. The question that students answer is written at the top of the grid, and students get access to individual grids with a QR code or alpha-numeric combination. They record their spoken responses to any question, and other students can like the video.

Coming up with a list of questions to ask in a World Language classroom is simple, since so much target vocabulary is questions for a conversation. See how this article for another activity to practice language with these types of questions in a student’s community. An assignment like this can be assigned as homework, then in class students can discuss the videos in pairs and submit a written response as a check for understanding. To see a detailed description of Flipgrid in a language classroom, see this article by Michael J. Shehane.

Keeping Learning Engaging

Keeping students interested and engaged in your language lessons is essential if you want them to take ownership of their own learning. Video is a great way to keep learning exciting, and allow students to practice language with each other. This article addresses using Youtube Playlists and Flipgrid in a languages classroom. Both strategies can be adapted in a number of ways to keep students using their language skills.

language, ed techBryn Hafemeister4, b