7 billion: Are you typical? (Integrating video with all four skills)

In my talk about using video in the classroom I mention the importance of combining images with language (see dual coding theory) and also integrating video with language teaching. In the actual presentation for this, I use a number of practical activities for classroom use to illustrate my point. Here’s one activity that seems really popular to use with students because it integrates all four skills (reading, writing, listening,and speaking).

The video is free to use online from the National Geographic website (or you’ll also find it on You Tube). It’s about the most typical person on the planet basedon numbers and demographics. There’s no speaking but a series of statistics appear on screen with images. Watch the video and then read instructions for use:

Original source: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/the-magazine/the-magazine-latest/ngm-7billion-typical/


Put the students into groups of three. One student is the group secretary and will write things down. Read out some or all of the following numbers (depending on the level of the students) and the secretary writes them down. I normally choose about eight of them: 13 billion, $12,000, less than 25%, 28 years, 9 million, the year 2030, 5 foot eleven inches, 5 foot four and half inches, 86 years, 45 years, 100 gallons, 2.5 gallons, 8 hours a day.

Then explain that you will show the groups a video. The figures will appear on screen and refer to a fact about the world or the people in it. The two students who are NOT the secretary must watch for the figures and tell the secretary the information they refer to. For example, if they see the number ‘7 billion’, they’ll tell the secretary to write down ‘number of people in the world’.

Allow time after the video for the groups to complete their notes and then ask them to report back. Play the video again if necessary.The ‘winning’ group is the one that writes down all (or the most) correct facts about the figures. More importantly, the activity combines listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Follow up

This video is part of a whole series that National Geographic ran on the subject of 7 billion people on the planet. There are more videos like this one and a lot of further reading. This activity could form part of a whole lesson or series of further lessons making use of the content on the site. Visit http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/7-billion.

Click here for more details about ‘Life’ the new National Geographic course for ELT.

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