BETTblogs: Assessing "authentic" video


The languages sector welcomes authentic video but ELT schools are concerned about adopting new learning designs.

The ELT sector is moving to part or full digital delivery for language courses, and authentic video is the selling point of the new learning designs. Check out how Pearson is marketing its new Business Partner course suite to feel the energy pushing video-centred learning.

A test of authentic video materials and lesson plans in language schools around the globe has given Digital Learning Associates (DLA) a glimpse of how this new learning design will be taken up in the ELT classroom. 

(Definition check: “authentic” video means it had another purpose before being used for education. Typically means it was sourced from television, factual entertainment, news or social media, as distinct to being scripted and acted.)

For about three months and in 20 countries DLA engaged on this topic with ELT teachers using surveys, direct contact and observation. We found that using authentic video in the ELT class was already familiar as a method to many.

“I use video, very often in my classes to engage students in image, sound, voice, real language. I do not use any video from pre-published books because I find them very dry.” ESL teacher, Barcelona

The DLA probe found ELT leaders and teachers have a range of pedagogical grounds for endorsing authentic video as a learning tool:


However, we also found teachers who are cautious about methods centred on authentic video. One School Director warned out that materials in such videos must be designed to reflect “very broad themes which make it easier for teachers to tie them to different syllabi and coursebooks.” There were also calls for support for teacher communities around video: the same School Director said successful adoption of authentic video required “attached activities or a discussion board where teachers can add their own accompanying materials to share with other teachers for each clip/video”.

Classroom methods will require careful curation. The Head of one adult ELT school reflected to us that for lower level students, authentic video means “far more structured activities (e.g. step 1 gist, step 2 general meaning, step 3 specific detail) because chances are they are not used to listening to authentic material so we have to bridge the gap.”

Meanwhile, ‘adaptability’ of classroom materials is essential in order to suit the full range of educator styles and capacities. The trade-off in video packages between resources that teachers can freely add their own ideas to, vs resources that offer a full teacher template, is identified by one School Director from Poland. “The easier and more ‘pick-up and use’, the more interesting for teachers”.

Our research captured the ELT sector at a point where the majority of ELT schools are equipped to access a digital content platform seamlessly. Using DLA’s web-based classroom viewing interface, no teachers reported any challenges from streaming, or accessing our trial materials. Our survey found that the day of DVDs is all but gone, with most schools reporting video-ready wifi access. “Streaming is the best way for teachers to access this,” was a typical comment from our school sample.

At DLA we concluded from our research that the language teaching segment has strong and broad motivation to seek out and use authentic video, but that ELT’s change to digital learning will require teacher support and new methodologies.


Want to know more about DLA’s authentic video range for ELT schools and publishers ? Read more here, contact us by email (, or find us on Twitter.

This blog was published as part of the series BETTblogs (follow the hashtag on Twitter) by DLA. Please contact us before republishing.