'simon's cat' photo (c) 2009, frolleinbombus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of using short video clips with English Language Learners as a language-development activity (you can read more at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them) ).

One of my favorite instructional strategies is called “Back To The Screen,” which I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example. I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

I’ve been a longtime fan of “Simon’s Cat” videos but, due to a brain freeze or something like that, I had never thought about how great they would be to use with ELLs — their short, funny, engaging, and don’t require knowing English to enjoy them.

If you’re one of the few people on earth who haven’t seen them :), here’s an example. The video I have embedded is also set to play all of them, if you’re so inclined (you can also go to its YouTube channel):