“Activity mode” in TeachVid

You may have already come across our blog post introducing “Learn mode” in TeachVid, in which we describe how TeachVid’s unique interactive player + captions + transcript / translation + various other tools combine to help students to engage with the video content even before they embark on any of the activities. (If not, here it is…)

Well, this blog post is all about “Activity mode”, which is arguably where the learning really begins…


Each TeachVid transcript resource automatically generates a variety of different activities, as shown in the “Activity menu” image above.

Activities range from simple chunk-based reconstruction, to gap-fills, to re-ordering words, to rebuilding sentences, to separating words, to a whole range of activities based on filling in missing letters – leading ultimately to dictation-like and translation-like activities based around rebuilding the original L2 text.


Every TeachVid activity is directly linked to video playback – and to the captions that make up the resource transcript. This means that each activity is split up into several mini-tasks, each linked to a specific caption.

Students can change the playback speed (on most devices) and replay each caption as many times as is necessary for them to complete each mini-task.

How an activity works

TeachVid’s activities work on various levels, as outlined below:

  1. Engagement with the L2 text
    Each activity mini-task requires students to perform some task with the specific L2 caption currently being spoken via the video. L2 subtitles are not visible in activity mode, as each mini-task is essentially a reconstruction task based on the corresponding L2 subtitle.
  2. Reinforcement of meaning
    The L1 whole-text translation accompanies each video activity, with the text related to the current mini-task highlighted. This helps reinforce the precise meaning of the current video caption.
  3. Listening, translation and text reconstruction combined
    The result is that students are able to complete each caption-linked mini-task using a combination of listening (via video playback), translation (via the L1 whole-text translation) and L2 text reconstruction using context-based and other clues within the mini-task itself.

An example activity

Look at the example below, which shows the Multi-choice activity:

Multi-choice activity

Here, the video player automatically plays the section of video which contains the audio “En las fotos se ven electrodomésticos como una nevera grande, el horno y el microondas” and the corresponding L1 translation (in this case English) is highlighted.

The student’s mini-task is to click on the chunks of language in the order that they hear them spoken in the video, so that they mean the same as the highlighted section of the translation.

After completing each mini-task, the video automatically moves on to the next caption and the next mini-task. This process continues until the activity is completed.

More example activities

For the examples below, the principle is exactly the same as above. Namely:

  1. The video automatically plays the specific caption, so that students can hear the audio.
  2. The corresponding section of the translation is highlighted to reinforce meaning and to help provide structure for the mini-task.
  3. The student must complete the relevant mini-task (with reference to instructions – the ? button at the bottom right – if required).
  4. After completion of each mini-task, the next caption plays automatically.
  5. This process is repeated until the whole activity has been completed.

Each mini-task requires the student to click on the words to fill the gaps.

Each mini-task requires the student to type out the words to fill the gaps.

Each mini-task requires the student to click to separate the words.

Each mini-task requires the student to click the words in the correct order.

Initials 50
Each mini-task requires the student to type in the gapped words, with initial letters as clues.

Spell 100
Each mini-task requires the student to type in the whole caption text, with word shapes as clues.

Progress tracking

Progress tracking means that students’ progress through a particular activity is saved, so they can leave an activity and resume it again whenever they like. (See the blue progress bars on the activity buttons in the image at the top of this post and the one below. These represent how far through each activity the student has progressed.)

Activity progress

Changing the focus

The above describes the default set-up for all transcript-based TeachVid resources which have translations included. But activities may be approached in several ways, each with a different focus:

  • Listening + translation + text reconstruction (as described above)
  • Listening + text reconstruction
  • Translation + text reconstruction
  • Text reconstruction only

For activities accessed via the Resources section of TeachVid, students can simply turn on or off the video playback, the whole-text translation, or both, to change the focus of the activity.

Turning off the video makes the activity much more translation-focused; turning off the translation makes it much more listening-focused; and turning off the video and the translation focuses the activity on pure text reconstruction.

Teachers can select a specific focus for assignment activities that they assign to their students via their classrooms. They do this by selecting from the available “view modes” for each activity. So you can set, for example a watch / listen and rebuild activity, a read and translate activity, and a simple gap-fill activity based on the same resource. See this user guide about setting classroom assignments on TeachVid.

Skills development

TeachVid works on multiple levels. “Learn mode” lets students engage with video content, listen, pause, replay, read and compare language structures and vocab. This self-directed learning, combined with the multiple interactive activities, each with a different level of difficulty and skills focus, helps to promote all sorts of language skills and micro-skills.

Listening skills are an obvious focus of the TeachVid platform. As well as generally “attuning the ear” to the sounds of the foreign language spoken in the videos, the activities really help to develop students’ phonological decoding and parsing skills, i.e. their ability to interpret the sounds of the foreign language that they are learning and to make sense of what they hear.

Activities focus on micro-skills such as recognising language chunks, recognising word boundaries, listening for specific words, re-ordering, gap-filling and ultimately transcribing.

TeachVid’s interactive activities, through the repetition of language tasks, repeated exposure to the same language in slightly different activity contexts and the juxta-position of (i) the language content in the L2, (ii) reconstruction tasks based on this content and (iii) the availability of a native language version of the same text for reference, really help to promote “noticing”, i.e. the realization in the student that a certain structure in one language is expressed in a particular way in the other language.

And the more often this happens with a particular structure, the more likely it is that this structure will be acquired by the student and will become part of their productive language.


6 thoughts on ““Activity mode” in TeachVid

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