Making a video in ESL class

Making Video Clips
Making a video. Hero Images / Getty Images

Making a video in English class is a fun way to get everyone involved while using English. It's project based learning at its best. Once you finish, your class will have a video to show off to friends and family, they'll have practiced a wide range of conversational skills from planning and negotiating to acting, and they'll have put their technological skills to work. However, making a video can be a big project with lots of moving pieces.

Here are some tips on how to manage the process while involving the whole class.

Ideation

You'll need to come up with an idea for your video as a class. It's important to match class abilities to your video goals. Don't choose functional skills that students don't possess and always keep it fun. Students should enjoy and learn from their experience filming, but not be too stressed out about language requirements as they'll already be nervous about how they look. Here are some suggestions for video topics:

  • Study Skills - Students can break into groups and produce a scene about a specific study skill, or a tip on how to study. 
  • Functional Skills - Have students create scenes focusing on functional skills such as ordering at a restaurant, job interviewing, leading a meeting, etc. 
  • Grammar Skills - Students can include slides asking the viewer to pay attention to specific structures and then act out short scenes focusing on tense usage or other grammar points. 

    Finding Inspiration

    Once you've decided on your video as a class, go to YouTube and look for similar videos. Watch a few and see what others have done. If you're filming something more dramatic, watch scenes from TV or a movie and analyze to gain inspiration on how to film your videos. 

    Delegating

    Delegating responsibilities is the name of the game when producing a video as a class.

    Assign individual scenes to a pair or small group. They can then take ownership of this part of the video from storyboarding to filming and even special effects. It's very important that everyone has something to do. Teamwork leads to a great experience. 

    When making a video, students who don't want to be in the video can take on other roles such as editing the scenes with a computer, doing make-up, making voice overs for charts, designing instructional slides to be included in the video, etc. 

    Storyboarding 

    Storyboarding is one of the most important tasks in creating your video. Ask groups to sketch out each section of their video with instructions on what should happen. This provides the roadmap for the video production. Believe me, you'll be glad you've done it when editing and putting together your video.

    Scripting

    Scripting can be as simple as a general direction such as "Talk about your hobbies" to specific lines for a soap opera scene. Each group should script a scene as they see fit. Scripting should also include any voiceovers, instructional slides, etc. It's also a good idea to match the script to the storyboard with snippets of text to help with production. 

    Filming

    Once you've got your storyboards and scripts ready, it's on to filming.

    Students who are shy and don't want to act can be responsible for filming, directing, holding cue cards, and more. There's always a role for everyone - even if it's not on screen!

    Creating Resources

    If you're filming something instructional, you may want to include other resources such as instructional slides, charts, etc. I find it helpful to use presentation software to create the slides and then export as .jpg or other image format. Voiceovers can be recorded and saved as .mp3 files to add to the film. Students who aren't filming, can work on creating resources needed or each group can create their own. It's important to decide as a class which template you'd like to use, as well as image sizes, font choices, etc. This will save a lot of time when putting together the final video.

    Putting the Video Together

    At this point, you'll have to put it all together.

    There are numerous software packages that you can use such as Camtasia, iMovie, and Movie Maker. This can be quite time consuming and aggravating. However, you'll probably find a student or two who excel in using storyboarding software to create complex videos. It's their chance to shine!