Books on using video

There isn’t enough print material on using video. People asked why we never wrote one. First, no one ever asked us to (a major reason), and second we never offered; we thought we had said what we needed to say in our Video Activity Books and in the accompanying Teacher’s Guides. At one time we discussed making a training video on how to teach with video for OUP, as that seemed the natural and sensible way of demonstrating techniques. It would have been expensive (compared to potential sales) and the project was often discussed, and inevitably delayed “till next year” several times.

A lot of the books on our shelves are ancient now, but a Google search on video resource books turned up so little that we thought they should be noted somewhere for archive interest, if nothing else. We would prefer to be comprehensive than selective and will add any further books suggested to us.


Richard Cooper, Mike Lavery, Mario Rinvolucri

Resource Books for Teachers series, edited by Alan Maley

Oxford University Press, 1991  ISBN 0-19-437102-6

Like so much of OUP’s video related catalogue this excellent resource book seems to be out of print, though a search showed up many copies second-hand. The book is full of innovative activities. Take a very simple one, which I hadn’t used before. It’s extremely effective. “Count the cuts.” That is count the changes in camera angle. One of the secrets of video exploitation is to give students valid reasons for repeated watching so that the content goes in subliminally. Counting the cuts diverts attention to a visual, non-linguistic task, but students are watching (and “hearing” even if not “listening”) while they’re performing it. Other ideas include  the activities (and more) suggested in our Paired Viewing article on this site.

The sections are:
A: Active Viewing
B: Making Your Own Videos
– Whole class work
– Small group work
C: Video your coursebook

The final section, Video Your Coursebook, and suggests activities with our own Grapevine One textbook. In such a rich resource there are a few suggestions I don’t like. Suggestion 1.3 involves papering the TV screen with a mosaic of small pieces of paper (such as Post it notes)so as to partially obscure the picture. While I see the teaching value, no one is putting sticky stuff on a TV screen that I’m going to use!

But this is a valuable teacher resource which is wide-ranging, clearly-written and stimulating.

Highly recommended. Best of the lot, even at twenty years old.


Barry Tomalin

ELTS (Macmillan) 1986, 1989 ISBN 0-333-35024-3

Another one for amazon used or ABE Books secondhand. This clear guide book is quite old now, but has added information on using radio news, live TV, radio broadcast and especially using the news, which goes outside the normal area of available ELT video. I saw Barry Tomalin speak many times on behalf of the BBC, while I was at the same conferences speaking on video on behalf of OUP. Barry helped spread enthusiasm for video throughout the ELT world. If you want to know about using the news, or authentic programmes like Fawlty Towers, seek out this book.


Margaret Allan

Longman Handbooks for Language Teachers, 1985 ISBN 0-582-74616-7

This predates our first videos in its original edition. A lot of space is devoted to arcane video systems and technology that has long gone. However, in that era good ELT videos existed, particularly things like On We Go and Follow Me from the BBC, and the advice on using video still works. It was a book I recommended on teacher training courses for ten years. Notes on using video for teacher training remain useful, but this classic is probably no longer worth seeking out because of the percentage devoted to old equipment, that is, unless you still have that stuff in use.


Jack Lonergan

Cambridge University Press, New Directions in Language Teaching, 1984

ISBN 0-521-27263-7

This covers language teaching, not just ELT, and was published in 1984, just as OUP and Longman were seriously devoting attention to video. Therefore, it predates the best material by a year or two. However, it has interesting sections on observing body language and gesture as well as filming (allowing that the equipment described is now antique). Examples in French and German join those in English.


Marion Geddes and Gill Sturtridge

PLT Series, Heinemann 1982, revised 1984

ISBN 0 435 28971 3

So many of these books on using video date from the early 80s, just before OUP and Longman decided to break the near monopoly of specially-written video from the BBC. The pictures of mics and monitors are ancient. But this was one of the books that was there when teachers were getting excited about using video on a wider scale. We had been using it since the mid-70s and my scribbled note in the front says “nothing new” but there didn’t have to be. It was a time for spreading the word.


Richard Sherrington

Oxford University Press, 1973, ISBN 0 19 437005 4

This long out-of-print volume was one of the first academic books on using video. Our copy was given to us by Simon Murison-Bowie, who was OUP’s executive video producer when we started writing video, and I believe Simon edited it. By now it’s of historical interest to applied linguists rather than a contemporary guide, but it was influential.

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