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Using videos/TV to practise English

Learning tip

Using videos/TV to practise English

Videos/TV can be a great way to learn English. The pictures help your child to understand what is being said.

Videos/TV can help children to:

  • listen to ‘real-life’ English
  • become familiar with different accents
  • watch facial expressions, body language and gestures used in different cultures
  • develop their understanding of the world and ‘real’ situations outside the classroom.

Most of all, children love learning through videos/TV. It can be a great source of motivation – one of the most important factors in language learning.


1. Choosing what to watch

Try watching a video/TV series – the episodes are usually much shorter than films. Your child will become familiar with the characters and how they talk. This repetition is really useful for learning.

The best videos/TV shows for learning English will have:

  • lots of visuals that illustrate what is being said
  • clear pronunciation, spoken not too fast
  • lots of language repetition
  • good picture and sound quality.

If you need some ideas, here are some of the top-rated children’s TV shows. For example, check out these TV shows that promote literacy and TV shows that promote communication.

Remember, film trailers can also be very motivating as they are often short and exciting.


Learning tips for 5–12 year olds

Choose videos/TV shows aimed at your child’s age group. These shows often have lots of repetition and opportunities for children to join in, repeat language and copy actions.

Young children love to hear their favourite stories, songs and videos/TV shows again and again. It’s fine to watch several times. This will help build their understanding and their confidence to repeat language.


Learning tips for 13–18 year olds

Watch some different film trailers with your child. Ask them to:

  • talk about what happened in each trailer
  • compare the films – what was similar/different
  • decide which one they would prefer to watch.

As an extension, they might also like to invent an ending to the film and act it out.

This activity could lead on to the writing of film reviews, which would help them prepare for Cambridge English exams such asCambridge English: First.


2. Watching without subtitles

Your child may need some support before they’re ready to turn off the subtitles. For example, when you are watching a video/TV series you could try:

  1. Watching an episode in your own language, so you become familiar with the characters.
  2. Watching an episode in English, with English subtitles for additional help.
  3. Watching an episode in English, without any subtitles.

Learning tip

Try not to pause all the time. Practise ‘listening for gist’. This means listening to get a general idea of what’s being said, without needing to understand every word.

Encourage your child to keep a notebook next to them. Ask them to write down any new words and expressions that they want to look up later.


3. Learning activities

Watching videos/TV can be a time for relaxing and ‘switching off your brain’. A follow-up activity can make all the difference and ensure it becomes a learning experience.

This could be as simple as a discussion. Ask your child about their favourite episode. Encourage them to tell you, in English, about their favourite parts.


Learning tip

After you’ve finished watching, your child can practise a range of different skills. For example:

  • Writing: help your child to find a photo of their favourite character and to write down information about them.
  • Speaking and listening: print out photos of your child’s favourite characters. Spread them out on the floor/table. Choose one photo, without saying who it is, and describe it. Your child must guess which one it is. Reverse roles.
  • Reading: ask your child to think of something in their favourite video/TV show, which they’d like to learn more about. Then explore this topic together. For example, read a storybook or find a website with fun facts.

See you next time

Look out for more tips and ideas in our next email. Next time we will be talking more about the learning activities you can do before and after watching videos/TV shows.

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