Jamie Keddie’s session on Videotelling was one of the most entertaining sessions I went to.
To be honest, before the session I was a bit skeptical about videotelling. I’ve been a big fan of his website Lesson Stream (formerly TEFL Clips) for years, but sometimes I think using videos in class is just for entertainment and doesn’t have a lot of linguistic purpose. However, after experiencing videotelling live in action, I’ve changed my mind. (You can watch examples on his website, but I’m not sure it has the same effect as participating in the real discussion.)
Here’s how it works:
Choose a short video clip and before you show it to students, talk them through the story. Ask them questions, elicit descriptions–anything to engage them with the story and allow them to visualise it in their heads. You can choose specific lexis to focus on and drill it in the context of storytelling so it doesn’t feel like drilling or do a ‘verbal gap-fill’ like with prepositions. (e.g. She was in love hhhhmmm him.) Basically, as a class you work together to tell the story. This visualization helps learners remember new vocabulary better as does creating a narrative. After, you can watch the video, and students will be really motivated to watch and see if their ideas matched the reality.
Jamie stressed that it is important to prepare and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand and really think about how you are going to get the students involved. Their involvement is crucial as the whole activity is to collectively construct the story. I think it is also important to make sure there is an element of surprise or disbelief.
I’ve been incorporating some of his lesson ideas from his website with my upper-intermediate students and they have really enjoyed these lessons. For example, when we talked about wedding rituals, I used Clumsy Best Man to introduce wedding vocabulary. It was great because not only was it entertaining but students had a visual link that I could refer them to if they forgot any key lexis in our further speaking activities.
I was so inspired by this talk that I had a go at creating my own story based on a short Cyanide and Happiness film ‘Beer Run.‘ I told the students that the experience happened to me (I think making it personal makes it more memorable and engaging), and elicited the story from them. Then they had to retell the story to each other before watching it. I made them guess if it were true (which of course it isn’t–you’ll see that clearly if you watch it), and because they were so involved a few of them actually thought it was true. We focused on narrative tenses, but in a way that didn’t feel like a grammar exercise. After, they got to tell their own stories. (BTW I’m happy to send you the notes I used to write this story–just email me. Sorry but since I’m new to blogging I haven’t quite figured out how to share a word document.)