This is a quick idea for a task you can use with a video that gives some kind of “top 10” or “top 5” (or whatever number) list. It works best with students at the intermediate level or higher, but I think it could be adapted if you want to use it with lower-level students.
I recently found this video, “10 Reasons Why We Like Living in Chicago.” My students and I live in Chicago, so it was a perfect video for us. If you use this idea, you’ll obviously want to find a video about your own city to show your students. If you search on YouTube, you can probably find something. Just play around with the wording until you find a good video—try searching for things like “Top 10 Reasons I Love [City]” or “My Favorite Things About [City],” etc.
Before watching the video, I asked my students to work in groups of 3-4 to write a list of their 10 favorite things about the city of Chicago. Since the students have to reach a consensus about the items on their list, they have to listen to each other and work together. This activity also gives them a chance to produce some output, but it’s not too difficult since they don’t need to write full sentences, just a quick list. Of course, the students will need some language abilities in order to communicate back and forth with each other while compiling the list. My high-intermediate students did a good job with this, but with lower level students, you could consider providing some sentence starters to help guide their conversations or, depending on your context, allowing them to use some of their native language when talking together.
After each group came up with their list, they reported it to the class, we compared their lists, and I asked some other follow-up questions to spark a little more discussion with the whole class.
Then, we watched the video I’d found on YouTube, and I told the students to write down what the person in the video listed as his ten reasons. We basically ended up doing this as a class, though, since I paused the video after he gave each reason, elicited it from the students, and then wrote each one up on the board. I also paused frequently throughout the whole video to paraphrase what he said and to explain the things we could see on the screen (like I do for MovieTalk). Videos like this one that show things around the city usually have a lot to see visually on the screen, which makes it a lot easier to talk about it with students. I also used the settings on YouTube to slow the video down to .75x the regular speed to make it easier for students to understand the language.
After watching the video, we discussed as a class what the man in the video had said and whether we agreed or disagreed with him. We talked about which items overlapped between his list and the lists the students had made.
This task can also be used with other “list” videos. Just make sure that the topic of the videos is something your students have enough knowledge and experience of in order to come up with a list of their own before watching. Some other ideas:
- Videos related to your students’ home countries/cities or foods from their home countries. I used this “Top 10 Foods in China” video with a class of all Chinese students.
- Videos about the top tourist attractions or places to visit in your city/state/country.
- Videos about common misconceptions or stereotypes people have. Maria from English Without Fear has a good video about 6 common stereotypes of Americans.
- Videos about the differences between the U.S. and other countries. I’ve used this video, “13 Weird Things Americans Do,” which lists some cultural differences between the U.S. and many other countries (I stopped it before #13 to avoid political issues). I’m also thinking about using this video, “10 Things Mexicans Do Better Than Americans,” with my class of mostly Mexican students.
- Videos related to other hobbies and interests your students have. For example, there are videos like “Top 5 Reasons You Should Get a Dog” or other topics that might relate to your students’ interests.
When searching, try to find videos that visually show on the screen the things they are talking about—not just a person looking at the camera and talking. This will make it easier for your students to understand the video, even at lower language levels. This also makes it easier for you to talk about the video, as you can pause and point to things on the screen while talking about them.
If you can’t find a video or think a video would be too hard for your students to understand, you could use this same activity but have the students compare their ideas to a list you found online or even one you created yourself. For example, you could read aloud your own personal list of favorite things about your city, and students can compare their lists to yours.
If you want, you could even turn it into a competition to see which students are able to guess the items on your list or the list from a video.
After you find the right video, this task takes almost no preparation work, and there are a lot of different variations you can use. So many ideas to choose from!