Thursday, February 04, 2010

book trailers

Last week, I read this article on the website:

Never Coming to a Screen Near You - Laura Miller

While I agree with the author's point (many of these videos are poorly made), I have seen a few that I thought were very professionally executed. One such example is the clip for Lindsay Clandfield's new series of coursebooks, Global. Scroll down to the middle of this page to see it:

Global - About the Course

Two non-ELT videos I think are worth watching:

Drive by Daniel Pink

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

I think the best clips catch the viewer's attention with strong visuals, and impart the main idea behind the book in just a couple of minutes.

Thanks to Jamie Keddie's marvelous website, I've started using video clips in my lessons, and I've been thinking about how book trailers could be used in the classroom. While Laura Miller might disagree, a judiciously chosen book trailer could provide the perfect stimulus for some fluency practice.

Some suggestions:

- If you're teaching a reading course, play a trailer for a book that students will be reading. Ask students to write a few sentences predicting the content of the book.

- Play several book trailers and ask students to discuss which one they thought was the most appealing and why.

- Play a number of awful book trailers and get students to vote for the worst one. Ask students what qualities made the trailer so bad.

- Assign students to watch book trailers on the Bookscreening website, and leave comments on one they particularly liked/hated.

- Use a book trailer as a springboard for a discussion about different ways to promote books and the effectiveness of using videos.

- Play a memory game. Give students a quiz on what they remember from watching a book trailer. Alternatively, they could work in groups to create tough questions for another group to answer.

- Use the audio portion of the book trailer for a dictation or a dictogloss.

- If your school has the technology for making videos, do a project where students must create a video introducing a book they like (it could be a book in their native language, but the video must be in English). If you have no access to a camera, you could ask students to create a script or a storyboard for a book trailer instead.

- An unplugged activity involves doing the reverse. Instead of creating a video to sell a book, ask students to create a short book to sell a TV series or movie.

One last suggestion - ask students to imagine a book trailer for their own autobiography - what would be featured in this book trailer? Get students to share their ideas in groups.


Beverly Whittall said...

I've just done an in-house workshop on encouraging students to read and getting away from the 'read and answer these comprehension questions' tasks that will surely alienate those students who are not keen readers already. Using book trailers is another motivating way of bringing books into the classroom. Will try these out, especially now that World Book Day is coming up. Thanks!

Beverly Whittall
ADOS International House Braga, Portugal

Hall Houston said...


I agree, I think we should expand our methods of reading beyond just giving out long lists of comprehension questions. Maybe you can tell us more about your workshop.


Adam said...

Some pretty sound advice here, Hall. Thanks for giving me some new ideas to reflect on.

Laine said...

Hi Hall,

I've just 'stumbled' onto your blog from Lindsay Clandfield's. I was pretty excited to see that you are blogging from Taoyuan, as I spent 6 years teaching English there and still miss it ...
I wanted to point you to a video that we did recently (that Jamie Keddie has done some teaching resources for), in case it was something you might find fun to use in class - it's a rap ...:-)
Hope Taoyuan is treating you well,

Hall Houston said...


Thank you very much for that clip. I'd better save it for my advanced level students.


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