The Moving Image: A History of Video in ELT


From the BBC’s crash course Follow Me in the 70s to the 90s concept of “Active Viewing” and today’s You Tube Generation, how has the role of video changed in the last 50 years? This personal journey will trace how the moving image has moved on and analyse the part it may play in the classrooms of the future.

Click here to download an abridged PDF of the talk


This talk opens with a brief discussion of how video has been used in ELT contexts. From the first commercially made “video courses” produced by the BBC such as “Follow Me” and “On We Go” that coincided with functional and notional syllabi to today’s proliferation of online video. In doing so, we will touch on the following points

  1. authentic vs. non-authentic materials (e.g. material produced specifically for learners or film or a mixture of both – “Speak Up”)
  2. active vs passive viewing
  3. tasks: video for comprehension-based work or to focus on visual stimuli?
  4. classroom management and video: e.g. split-viewing, video dictogloss
  5. the relationship between video and coursebook material/syllabus (e.g. video traditionally seen as fun thing to do at the end of the class)

The second half of the talk will look at the digital age and how the moving image is becoming central to 24/7 language learning both in terms of video’s increased accessibility and the enormous possibilities that video opens up in online learning platforms. Here, we will cast a critical eye on the following:

1 new video tools
2 new sites which incorporate authentic material
3 concepts such as The Decentralized and The Flipped Classroom
4 the influence of Webinars, video conferences, etc.
5 the whole issue of video creation and how students can take a more active role in the classroom by producing their own material.

We will sum up by looking to the future and ask the kind of important questions that we ask of all technology. Does the moving image enhance or distract from the learning process? Does it undermine or complement the teacher’s role?