Creating video content with TeachVid in mind…

This post is aimed at those who may be considering creating TeachVid content based on their own YouTube videos, and it is divided into 2 sections: first, some general principles for producing content that we feel will work best on TeachVid; then, some simple low-tech ideas for the sorts of videos that will work great on TeachVid.

1) What sort of video content works best on TeachVid?

TeachVid is not really about extensive listening. Nor is it primarily about comprehension questions (although that is one of the many activity options available).

Primarily, TeachVid resources are aimed at getting students to engage with the video transcript via a range of interactive text-reconstruction activities, with each activity broken down into several mini-tasks directly linked to the video sections / captions.

(For more about this for those not particularly familiar with TeachVid, see: the methodology page on TeachVid | this “Learn Mode” blog post | this “Activity Mode” blog post | this parallel texts blog post)

Bearing in mind all of the above, the following are some general principles which we feel will help you to produce the sort of content that works best with TeachVid’s interactive activity tools:

• Keep it short

TeachVid works best with short videos, ideally somewhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes in length. It can work with videos that are longer than this, but the determining factor is really how much text the students will need to interact with. A 5 minute video with speech delivered at a slow pace is probably better than a 2 minute video with lots of text delivered at a blistering pace.

So, while extensive video listening may generally be a great way of providing comprehensible input – e.g. if your aim is just for you students to listen on YouTube, or if you are making a single quiz activity for EdPuzzle for example – for TeachVid content this does not follow. On TeachVid, repetition is built in automatically via all of the interactive activities, so students will hear plenty of repetitions of the language content. Remember that with TeachVid, less is more.

This 🇪🇸 Spanish resource is about 1 minute in length:
Antes del coronavirus

• Keep it clear

If using existing video content or creating videos with multiple characters, try to avoid actors / characters talking over one another, as this makes it difficult to clearly define and separate captions and to specify where each caption begins and ends.

If you are recording yourself, try not to speak so quickly that it is difficult to separate your speech into clearly defined captions.

This 🇫🇷 French resource was scripted and recorded by a French teacher. The delivery is very clear:
La technologie

• Keep it scripted

TeachVid’s interactive activities automatically build in a LOT of repetition. With this in mind, it isn’t necessary to repeat phrases or vocabulary multiple times in the way that you might do if you were delivering your content live to a classroom of students. It probably works best if you write a script and stick to it.

If you are a CI / TPRS teacher, think of it like this: rather than filming the whole process of story-asking, with all of the circling and repetition etc that you would naturally (and necessarily) build into this process (because your aim is to provide as much repetition as possible), try to see your TeachVid video as the finished story summary (or even the initial story script, if you use one): it is concise, it tells the story. That’s it. (Same as you would do with textivate, for example). The TeachVid activities will provide all the necessary repetition.

This 3 part story in 🇫🇷 French is scripted and lasts about 2 minutes:
Tu veux sortir avec moi?

• Keep it caption-free

By this we mean that the video should NOT have subtitles that are super-imposed on the video itself. (Adding captions via YouTube’s closed captioning tool is not a problem as these can be disabled for video playback).

The reason for this is that TeachVid resources work by providing captions and translations separately from the video content itself, with students engaging in activities requiring them to interact with the caption text. If the text appears on the screen, all of the activities are pointless because the students can simply copy the answers from the text overlays on the video.

So if you are creating YouTube videos for access via YouTube and for self study only, by all means do use text overlays, as they really help to reinforce meaning. But with TeachVid, text overlays make no sense whatsoever.

• Keep it production-focused

It makes most sense for the language content to be focused on language that you want students to be able to produce. So try to use high frequency language – phrases, chunks, functions, etc. – that students will be able to apply to multiple situations.

Much of the listening and reading content that traditional textbooks provide is often aimed way above the productive level of your students, as this content is intended to test comprehension (i.e. it works at the bounds of your students’ receptive abilities). With TeachVid, however, since the activities require the students to rebuild the text multiple times (just as with textivate), your content should sit comfortably within the bounds of what you would like or expect your students to be able to produce.

2) Remember: Low-tech works just as well…

Don’t feel that you need to create super professional-looking videos in order to harness the power of TeachVid. TeachVid’s magic derives from the interaction between video, transcript, translation and interactive activities. One could argue that the video itself is almost incidental to the impact on student learning.

Here are some relatively “low-tech” ideas for creating appropriate video content for language learning via TeachVid:

• Picture description

Describing a picture is a common assessment method for language learners, so why not make simple video content based on a still image plus your own scripted description of the image content? Try to include vocabulary and structures that would be useful in as many contexts as possible, and bear in mind that the content should be vocabulary and structures that you would ideally like your students to be able to produce. 🇪🇸 See these Spanish examples in this blog post about using TeachVid for picture description on the TeachVid blog.

A short scripted 🇫🇷 French text, describing the contents of a photo:
Musicien de rue

• Still images with a specific focus

As well as picture description for the sake of preparing for assessment, as outlined above, still images can be used for a number of topics and in a variety of ways. e.g. a weather forecast plus an image of a weather chart; giving directions plus an image of a town plan; physical description with images of people; talking about what’s on TV with an image of a TV schedule, etc.

This 🇫🇷 French resource uses a still image as the basis for practising describing your bedroom:
Ma chambre

• Carousel / picture story

Create a video based on several still images to tell a story or to accompany a text. This works well for texts that consist of multiple actions, descriptions etc. e.g. daily routine, describing the rooms in your house, talking about school or town facilities, talking about a day out or a holiday etc.

We’ve used a lot of this sort of resource recently, where still images are used to reflect the textual content. The Windows10 photos app is a great way of combining images, adding an audio file + background music, and then converting this into a video that can be uploaded to YouTube.

This 🇪🇸 Spanish resource uses a series of images to reflect the text content:
¿Quieres salir conmigo?

• Talking to the camera

Film yourself giving a presentation or talking about anything you like – your weekend, your holidays, telling a short story, etc. Try to use high frequency language which students will find useful and applicable to multiple contexts. And if you can, script it to avoid stumbles, repetition, thinking pauses etc.

For this 🇪🇸 Spanish resource, author Sonya Chapman-Morley reads an extract from her Spanish CI novel “La ciudad de los muertos”:
La ciudad de los muertos

Here author Diego Ojeda reads one of the poems from his 🇪🇸 Spanish collection called “Corazón sin borrador”:

For this 🇫🇷 French resource, author Teresa Torgoff reads the prologue to her French CI novel “Qui a tué Cécile?”:
Qui a tué Cécile?

I just want to finish by reminding any readers who have got this far that anybody who registers for FREE on TeachVid can create up to 5 of their own resources, so the above is not only of relevance to TeachVid subscribers.

For those interested, this blog post explains in detail what you can do for free on TeachVid, and it goes on to detail which additional features are only available to those who have a Teacher or School subscription:
Is TeachVid Free?


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