Using video in ESL Classes - 5 top tips

Using video in ESL Classes - 5 top tips

Videos can be the perfect accompaniment to your ESL lesson. Visuals are always a winner, and the right clip can help bring your theme to life, consolidate and extend the language, and provide valuable context.

But how to use video for optimal results? Here are my top five tips:

1. Be careful using videos aimed at beginners

I find most recordings aimed at beginners too fast, too complex, and too long. You’ll need to choose wisely and likely, not play the whole video - thirty seconds may be long enough. 

Watch me as I demo how to use video with a new beginner class in the video below.

2. Prep your students before watching the video

You may need to explain the new language in advance of the recording so they can understand it better.

If your students have enough language, I’d also advise warming up your class, getting them ready for the listening by pausing the first frame and asking questions like:

What can you see? 

What do you think this is about? 

3. Give your students an aim or objective while watching

It gives your students something to focus on. For the first viewing, ask something simple – an overview question. For example:

Why is it funny? 

Who speaks the most? 

Describe the speaker’s mood.

The second time, you can ask some more detailed questions to check they’ve understood the concept.

 4. Do something related afterwards

Here are some ideas. For lower levels, you could pause after each spoken phrase and get the class to repeat it.

After, you could recreate the dialogue on the board, eliciting some of the words from the class. Then, you could rub out some words and have them tell it again. Continue rubbing out words and have students retell the dialogue each time. 

For higher-level classes, you could:

  • ask students to suggest what happens next
  • get students in pairs to continue a dialogue/start a dialogue based on the video  
  • write some questions on the theme for students to discuss in pairs
  • isolate some of the language from the clip, write it on the board and explore the grammar as an introduction to a grammar lesson

5. Use video for homework

Most students don’t like homework but will happily watch YouTube videos in their free time. So, why not make it easier for them to progress in English by setting video watching as a homework task?

You can simply ask them to watch the class video at home again to consolidate the language. Otherwise, you could ask them to view a new video. Then, write three questions based on it for their classmates to answer next time.

If the video has subtitles, encourage them to talk along with it, using the same speed and intonation. It can be powerful for students to hear themselves speaking English so naturally.


Do you use video in class? Please comment on the above or share your top tips below. 


Want more on beginners?

20 beginner lesson worksheets - ready-to-use, minimal prep, most with links to supplementary video, available here.

Teaching beginners guide - go deeper and discover more on how to teach beginners effectively here


  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: 21/09/2021

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Using video in ESL Classes - 5 top tips