This video is the BOMB! It is captivating, absorbing, a story par excellence but also SILENT! Yes, silent films are great for getting students to produce language — and after all is said and done, that most often is the hardest thing to do, getting the students speaking and learning language by just communicating. That is our job, to get the students so absorbed in the communicative act that they forget they are learning. When we forget and are not consciously fixated on the language – we learn so much more! And silent , great silent movies do that so well.

So here are a few suggestions on how to use these with students. Also, a quick list of my absolute favorites in this regard….

Ways to use a silent video clip….

1. BACKDOOR — In pairs or small groups, one or more students view and describe to the other students who have their backs to the screen. Alternate every few minutes and circulate to give help with vocab (or just write it on the board as needed, students will see you and use to describe the action.

2. PREDICTION – Watch a small part and stop the video. Have students predict what will happen next.

3. VOCABULARY – depending on the theme of the video (for example in The Flat Life you can use action words and / or furniture) have students make lists of words and then use them to 4. RETELL the story/narrative up to that point.

4. DIALOGUE — Students watch and then re-enact the dialogue in the story. Add in a narrator if necessary. This is a great speaking/writing combined lesson. Get them even to use speech bubbles and draw cartoons of the story.

5. WRITING – Have students retell the story, rewrite the story – but with a different ending. First retell and use this as an engagement activity for some really creative writing! Make sure to do the most important part of the writing process – SHARING!

My favorite silent short videos.

1.. The Big Snit — Without a doubt, it has it all!  Find it on our NFB video page!

2. Mr. Bean videos. I love the Mr. Bean at the swimming pool! Perfect length and works like a charm. Stop at the end and get students to predict what will happen. Get them all in our Mr. Bean player! or more Mr. Bean resources here.

3. Neighbors. – this Academy award winner has a special message. Be careful, it isn’t for young kids! Get this in our NFB video section also.  The main NFB page has many other great “silent” animations I didn’t list –  try Sainte Barbe and the Apprentice for example.

What’s your favorite “silent” video for teaching languages?

PS> See Ana Maria Menezes’ post and suggestions for using Silent videos in the classroom!