Lights, camera, action!
It’s probably safe to say that not a single one of your students would be opposed to the idea of watching a video in class.
While showing a video is sure to be entertaining, it’s also a great tool for teaching English as a second language.
An essential component of mastering the English language is being exposed to native speakers. Depending on where you’re teaching, this component can be a challenge for students once they leave your classroom.
Fortunately, thanks to the magic of movies and shows, you can give your students the opportunity to listen to and work on comprehending conversational English.
There are hundreds of ESL video worksheets that are ready-made and available for you to take your video lesson to the next level.
So, dim the light and press play!
The Value of Showing Videos in Your ESL Classroom
Videos provide an opportunity to listen to conversational English.
The real test of comprehension is understanding the language when it’s spoken by native speakers at a normal speaking pace. Colloquial English can be difficult to understand if you’ve only been exposed to formal English in a classroom setting. Videos offer your students a chance to hear conversational English.
Part of obtaining fluency is training the ear to detect individual words and phrases. The best way to train a non-native English ear is to have students listen to English being spoken. Showing a video in your ESL class that’s guided by an accompanying worksheet is an effective training activity.
FluentU is a great resource for videos that will introduce your students to native accents! FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Videos are conveniently organized into lessons, so your students can easily work towards a particular objective, topic or skill.
FluentU is about so much more than videos: You also get access to interactive flashcards and vocab lists, annotated subtitles and personalized quizzes that evolve as your students learn.
You can set up a FluentU school account so your students can watch videos and finish exercises at home, or you can simply show videos in class through your personal account.
Students can improve comprehension skills with visual context.
Visual context clues such as facial expressions, hand gestures, body positions and specific settings indicate what the general scenario is. Through these visual cues, ESL students can more easily comprehend at least the gist of the dialogue.
As a non-native speaker, it’s easier to understand an English speaker in person than over the telephone when there are no visual clues available. In the absence of a real-life scenario, watching a video in English is a perfect alternative to help your students improve their listening and comprehension skills.
Videos entertain students while reinforcing language skills.
Teaching formal English classes day in and day out can become a bit mundane for both you and your students. As a teacher, it’s necessary to occasionally spice up your lessons and try new methods of reinforcing the language skills you’ve been teaching.
Showing a video in class, whether you’re teaching children or adults, is a learning activity that your entire class will get excited about.
They create a shared experience.
Watching a video in class opens up a world of discussion possibilities. By showing a video, you’re creating an experience that the entire class can share and talk about after the movie is over.
An essential component of a language class is making sure that your students have the chance to practice their listening, comprehension and conversational skills. The movie that your class watches together creates an ideal platform to practice all three of these language skills.
How to Use ESL Video Worksheets
Pass out the worksheets.
First things first, pass out the worksheet to each of your students while explaining that this worksheet will accompany the video that you’re about to show. This is an excellent time to brief your students on the movie that you’ve chosen, as well.
You can explain to your students at this time that the purpose of watching a video and completing the video worksheet is to help enhance their listening and comprehension skills. Be sure to choose a video that’s appropriate for the age group and the average language level of your class.
Read aloud through the worksheet with your students.
Before beginning the movie or show, it’s a good idea to read through the worksheet that you’ve passed out. This will ensure that each of your students understands the content of the worksheet. If necessary, review any vocabulary, grammar tenses or other language topics that you’ve taught and want your students to focus on during the showing.
Let students ask any questions that they might have about the video worksheet.
Explain how to complete the video worksheet.
Make sure you specify whether you want your students to fill out the worksheet as the video plays, during pauses or once the entire movie is over. This will depend on the type of worksheet and exercises you’ve assigned to your students.
If the ESL video worksheet is fill-in-the-blank, your students may be better off filling it in as the movie plays. If the worksheet is made up of short-answer questions or opinion-based reflections, it may be better to instruct your students to complete the worksheet when the video is paused or over.
Highlight any keynotes.
If there are specific scenes, interactions, quotes or even vocabulary that you want to make sure your students pay attention to during the video, make sure you highlight these keynotes before you start the show. If you have a particular reason for showing the video you’ve chosen, be sure to inform your students of this, as well.
Liven up Your Lessons with ESL Video Worksheets
Don’t worry, you don’t have to create your own worksheets to accompany videos. These six websites offer quality ESL video worksheets for movies, TV shows, music videos and more.
iSL Collective is a free resource for ESL teachers. This easy-to-navigate site has an abundance of downloadable and printable ESL video worksheets and other resources. There’s also an option to customize your search for materials based on material type, student type and language level.
There are dozens of free ESL video worksheets available! You’ll find worksheets for movies such as “Inside Out,” “Peter Pan,” “Back to the Future,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Across the Universe,” “Anger Management” and so many more.
If you don’t have enough time to show a full-length movie or simply want to show a shorter feature, iSL Collective also has a small collection of television show worksheets. You can find worksheets to accompany such shows as “Once upon a Time” and “Friends.”
Another unique feature of this ESL teacher resource site is there are even worksheets that go along with several music videos and TED Talks. You’ll find plenty of diverse options on this site to help you plan exciting, engaging lesson plans.
ESL Movie Lesson is an excellent site for purchasing and downloading ESL video worksheets for intermediate students. The price to download is usually around $5.00, but you can make as many copies as you want once you purchase the package. There are currently 25 movies with accompanying video worksheet packages available on ESL Movie Lesson.
The ESL video worksheet packages are complete with day-to-day, detailed lessons plans that go along with the movie. The lesson plans are complete with discussion questions, comprehension activities, character descriptions, movie quotes, vocabulary and multiple-choice quizzes.
This is one of the most detailed ESL video worksheet options I have ever come across.
There are video worksheet packages available for movies such as “Catch Me If You Can,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Ratatouille,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Karate Kid 2” and “Minority Report.”
ESL Printables is a free online resource for ESL teachers. There are all kinds of ready-made lesson plans, activities and worksheets for different language levels and topics. Under each printable video worksheet, you’ll find the level and age group the worksheet is appropriate for. You can also search for ESL video worksheets based on movie genre.
The majority of the resources on this site are more geared toward elementary and middle school-aged students. You’ll find worksheets for movies like “WALL-E,” “Aladdin and His Magic Lamp,” “The Smurfs,” “50 First Dates” and “Harry Potter.”
ESL Printables also has a few free worksheets that go along with popular television shows such as “Friends” and “The Simpsons.”
Showing television episodes in your ESL classroom is a great treat for your students. Unlike movies, which typically take up the entirety of one or more classes to show, television episodes make it possible to complete several language learning activities in a single class period. Most episodes are less than thirty minutes long, which leaves plenty of time to utilize the content your students just watched.
Movies Grow English offers 156 ESL video worksheets for 156 movies for just $1 each. The video worksheets are generally between five and nine pages long.
You can find video worksheets for some of the biggest blockbuster hits, including “Blue Crush,” “Casablanca,” “Black Swan,” “Forrest Gump,” “Frozen,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” and “Jurassic Park.”
There are movies appropriate for all age groups. The video worksheets include a synopsis of the movie, quotations, vocabulary and fill-in-the-blank exercises to help your students improve their listening and comprehension skills while watching some of the best movies ever made.
Teachers Pay Teachers is an innovative resource for not only ESL teachers but all types of teachers. The resources available on this site were all made by teachers. While many of them require a small payment, which goes directly to the teacher who made the resource, there are some free ESL video worksheets available.
Under each downloadable worksheet is a short description of the worksheet, the subjects and the grades it’s suitable for. There are ESL video worksheets for movies such as “Annie,” “Juno,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Dances with Wolves.”
If you don’t have time to show a full-length movie, Teachers Pay Teachers has several free ESL worksheets that correspond with episodes of the well-known doctor drama “House” and the late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
ESL Notes has dozens of free ESL video worksheets. All you have to do is download and print the worksheet that matches the movie you intend to show. The movie worksheet selection is conveniently organized in alphabetical order. There’s also a link to purchase the movies that have worksheets directly on the site.
The video worksheets include a character list and description, a plot summary, a vocabulary and expressions section and list of possible discussion topics. You’ll find movies such as “Almost Famous,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Elf,” “Meet the Parents” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Doesn’t get any easier than that!
Using videos in the classroom is not only an effective language learning tool, it’s also one that your students will truly enjoy. These ESL video worksheet resources will help you turn fun videos into productive classroom activities.
Oh, and One More Thing…
If you like teaching your students with videos, you’ll love using FluentU in your classroom. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, cartoons, documentaries and more—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons for you and your students.
It’s got a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch on the regular. There are tons of great choices there when you’re looking for songs for in-class activities.
You’ll find music videos, musical numbers from cinema and theater, kids’ singalongs, commercial jingles and much, much more.
On FluentU, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students. Words come with example sentences and definitions. Students will be able to add them to their own vocabulary lists, and even see how the words are used in other videos.
For example, if a student taps on the word “brought,” they’ll see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools for students, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
It’s perfect for in-class activities, group projects and solo homework assignments. Not to mention, it’s guaranteed to get your students excited about English!
Jenn Parker is a native Floridian who has been living in Costa Rica since 2010. She earned her master’s degree in Education in 2012 from Nova Southeastern University. She taught for four years before switching paths to pursue a full-time career as a writer. You can find samples of her work on Upwork.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.