Adding more sights and sounds to the English lesson through music videos

Written by: Boyan Nikolov – NBU

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The primary purpose of this workshop is to suggest some practical ideas about the use of music videos during the English lesson and to demonstrate some of the possibilities that they offer as a means of expressing concepts and emotions, presenting stories or events. Videos’ main advantage is that they combine pieces of music and short films, which guarantees a wide range of activities prior to, during, and after watching a particular video in the classroom. These activities could be summarised in the following way:

At the beginning of the lesson the teacher may wish to prepare learners for what they are about to see and hear, e.g. by a short discussion about the performers of the song related to the video, an interesting story or fact about the video or the song, etc. Another handy warm-up is to tell learners to invent a story using words from the song’s lyrics. The teacher may also ask learners to visualize what the video might be like while only listening to the song – after that they watch to compare the video with their expectations.

There are numerous approaches to using music videos in class. We may first ask learners  questions that are related to the video (say how the character(s) feel; follow the storyline to retell or interpret it; see certain objects or people in the video, etc.) – they watch to answer. This can be followed by some standard tasks connected with the lyrics of the song (gap filling, putting lines in the correct order, matching beginnings to endings of lines, etc.) – then learners may watch again to check answers. Another option is to start working with the lyrics and then go to the video.  Naturally enough, all these activities can be combined in a different way and order depending on the particular video, the level of the learners, the teacher’s aims, etc. The very fact that we can use the thematic link between lyrics, songs and videos provides us with numerous combinations of tasks both in and outside the classroom.

At the final stage of the lesson different sorts of planned or improvised discussions may follow depending on the teacher’s aims and the learners’ responses. The topic of the video could be developed further by different kinds of creative writing or project work usually set for homework.

Videos Featured In The Workshop:

  1. Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World
  2. Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence
  3. Abba – The Day Before You Came
  4. George Michael & Aretha Franklin – I Knew You Were Waiting For Me
  5. Mike Odlfield – Don Alfonso
  6. Erasure – A Little Respect
  7. Mike Oldfield & Bonnie Tyler – Islands

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