Student Video Skits in a 100-level Japanese Class


Michiko Kato

Michiko Kato is a Lecturer of & the Basic Language Program Coordinator for Japanese.

The Goal: To allow instructors to observe students’ hidden abilities and possibilities that should be considered when their progress is evaluated, and to allow student to learn Japanese structures, grammar, and culture while enjoying themselves.

The Tools: video cameras (department- or student-owned) or video-capable cell phones and YouTube [Editing tools were not required.]

The Assignment: This is a long-term, scaffolded project used in Japanese 103 (Intermediate Japanese). I thought it would be easier for the students to work on this project if they were used to creating skits and acting them out. Therefore, students practiced with skits using newly learned grammar and structures once or twice a month. Students worked in pairs to complete a worksheet designed to help them plan their skit. I proofread their skits and gave comments and suggestions.
          In Week 7, students began working on the video project using instructions for the whole project. The first task was a summary of their skits and a first draft. I gave comments and suggestions on their first drafts.
          Final drafts were due in Week 8. As they worked on their final drafts, students could ask me questions in class or during my office hours and could also meet with their tutors. I proofread their final drafts, and gave comments and advice.
          I set up a private account on YouTube, and students posted their videos. I watched, evaluated, and graded their videos as soon as they posted them. (See a sample of the feedback students received.)

The Outcome: From my point of view, I found out many positive aspects about the students in the videos which might be overlooked in class.
          Many students said this project was fun. They also found it helpful since it created opportunities for them to practice their skits until they could perform them naturally with appropriate gestures. According to their feedback, more than 90% of the students enjoyed working on the project, especially creating their skits. All of the students thought that the project was useful for learning the language, especially for their speaking skills. However, nearly 60% said they had difficulty memorizing their lines, and over 30% said they had difficulty acting out their skits. Considering their feedback, I think that in future classes, I should provide students with more class time for them to work on their skits with their group members, and help them to use words/lines that will not be difficult to memorize and act out. Also, I will continue not posting their videos where their classmates can watch them since more than one-fifth of the students did not want to share their videos with other students.

To see more detailed feedback from students about this project, click here.

Play the video above to see an example from this assignment.
(Video used with students’ permission.)

Notes:  You can post videos on YouTube and make them private (so only people to whom you send a link can see them) or public (so everyone can see them). You can also put these videos on your Blackboard site. Contact to find out more.