EFL Exams/ EFL Resources
Making the most of audio-visual resources in the EFL classroom
Diary submitted by Matthew M., Madrid
Regardless of the age of the students, audio-visual resources will always be appreciated as they add a satisfying new dimension to language learning. This diary will reflect on the best ways to include films, videos, songs in an EFL lesson.
Teenagers will typically respond well to current videos and music; although they may not understand everything, their familiarity with English pop culture due to the presence of social networks and websites such as YouTube will make the resource feel more accessible. Songs were particularly beneficial as they “provide a valuable source of authentic language” (Budden, 2008). By using such resources, a teacher also demonstrates an overlap between their own interests and those of the teenagers, which will often encourage an effective student-teacher relationship.
Younger children will often respond very well to films. As stated by Kieran Donaghy, “the ‘visuality’ of a film makes it an invaluable language teaching tool, enabling learners to understand more by interpreting the language in a full visual context”. (2014) Indeed, it is this ‘visuality’ that children find so useful as they are likely to have a more basic level of English. They will also become drawn into the story which will reinforce comprehension. Songs can also be useful in a younger class; however, it is important to use those “that are repetitive and easy to understand… as lower levels will become extremely frustrated with fast-delivered lyrics”. (Simpson, 2015).
Although audio-visual can be hugely beneficial for students, I found that they will often become lazy and complacent if they are not stimulated further. As a result, when using such materials in my own class, I felt it was particularly important to ensure that the video or song by no means became a ‘replacement’ for a lesson; rather, I encouraged the students to understand that they must use the resource to achieve an objective. Thus, the most suitable way to use audio visual materials is as “a springboard for follow-up tasks such as discussions, debates on social issues, role plays”. (Donaghy, 2014); this will ensure that the students remain focused. Examples of activities I used with videos or films included role plays or dialogue based on elements of the film – this would allow them to practice newly acquired language and allowed them to be creative at the same time. Activities with songs I used sometimes were as simple as a gap-fill exercise to practice comprehension of the lyrics; this was a good way of learning and practicing new vocabulary.
It is clear therefore that audio-visual material has a lot to offer in an EFL class, as students will often enjoy the familiarity of videos and songs. The key is to ensure that the resource is followed up by a suitable activity so that students can reach a new goal and thus see that they have made progress.
- Budden, Jo, ‘Using Music and songs’, British Council, https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/using-music-songs, (accessed 21 August 2017)
- Donaghy, Kieran, ‘How can film help you teach or learn English’, British Council, https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/how-can-film-help-you-teach-or-learn-english, (accessed 21 August 2017)
- Simpson, Adam, ‘How to use songs in the English language classroom’, British Council, https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/how-use-songs-english-language-classroom (accessed 21 August 2017)