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Tutor Tip

Video Journals

October 2020

Purpose:  A fun, low-pressure way for English learners to develop speaking fluency and practice their listening skills between tutoring sessions

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  An app that allows users to create and send videos in between phones, such as WhatsApp or Marco Polo.

With many tutors and learners staying home due to the pandemic, it can be challenging for learners to have enough practice to improve their speaking and listening skills. Tutors who connect with learners over their phones can use an app such as WhatsApp or Marco Polo to send short video messages to learners that they are working with.


  1. Make a short (1-2 minute) video of yourself talking about a topic that the learner will find interesting.  This is a great way to emphasize vocabulary or grammar that you've practiced during lessons.
  2. At the end of the video, include 1-2 question prompts for the learner to respond to. If you are using WhatsApp, you can put the questions as the video caption.
  3. Learners can view your video as many times as they like (improving their listening skills), then make a video of their response to send back to you. This delayed response allows the learner to practice before they respond, and to develop their fluency and comfort speaking for extended periods.
  4. Respond to the learner’s video, and pose 1-2 new questions.

Video Journal topics can include:

  • places in the community
  • rooms in your home
  • meals
  • family members
  • pets
  • daily activities
  • your hobby
  • something that made you smile

The best part about practicing English this way is that it doesn’t feel like homework! Model being creative, and don’t feel like your camera work has to be perfect. The more natural, the better!

See an example of a video journal recording for a beginning level learner here:

Want to learn how to make and send a video in WhatsApp? Read this article: 

Want to learn how to send a video message using Marco Polo? Read this article:

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Screenshot of a WhatsApp video with question prompts as the caption

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