Exploring the use of Instragram Reels in the Foreign Language Classroom (with ideas that can work in most subjects!)
Given the global popularity of the TikTok application, it is normal for others to get inspired by its concept. This is the case, for example, of Instagram, which recently launched its new feature: Reels. The principle? Publish short videos with montages and music. Coupled with the power of Instagram, Reels can give you much more visibility.
This is often the case on social networks: when a concept works, other platforms copy or adapt it quickly. This was the case, for example, with Snapchat stories taken from Instagram.
But right now, what works thunder on the internet is definitely TikTok. So Instagram decided to draw inspiration from the concept of the Chinese application by creating a new feature: Reels.
The principle is the same: make videos of up to 15 seconds. Then, compose it with small end-to-end clips embellished with music. The possibilities are legion. Reels offer the opportunity to express their full creativity.
Today it is difficult to find a person who does not have an Instagram page. Here are some tips which show how to use Instagram for schools with its newest feature Reels.
Let’s look at some simple ideas using the example of learning foreign languages. You can apply them in class and after school hours and adapt them to any subject.
Launching an Instagram challenge
First step: prepare and conduct a thematic lesson on Social Media in the classroom. Take advantage of excellent ready-made plans. For example, Why do people quit social media or Social Networking sites?
Ask your students to write their Instagram nicknames on the board by the end of the lesson. Of course, they also have to subscribe to each other. Now you can run a challenge!
My summer holidays
Ask students to write foreign-language eyeliners under their summer photos or Reels videos and mark them with a common tag – for example, #mysummer (but it’s better to come up with your hashtag together, it’s more interesting!). It is a fantastic way to stay in touch during the summer holidays and pump up skills. And according to its results, it will be possible to make a selection of the best publications. Then you can collect them into a small project. Encourage students to comment on each other’s records. Let them publish as many exciting posts and Reels as possible.
Show and Tell
Use one of the most common exercises in foreign language lessons, where a student brings a subject to the class and talks about it. This can be a children’s toy, a photo album, a musical instrument, a picture, an autographed ball… Expand this task in digital format. Students should tell in their posts about something dear or interesting to them. It can be even cooler – to broadcast live or make a Reels video. It is worth coming up with a hashtag for this task as well: for example, #digital_showandtell.
Blog and Share
Do not forget that Instagram is not only about pictures and text. It is also stories with streams and Reels: short videos in the style of TikTok. You can read here if you want to know about it.
Run a challenge to pronounce tongue twisters or hard-to-pronounce words. For example, you can record stories with a tongue twister and mark three of your students. They take the challenge and record their stories challenging their other classmates. You can use both friends and random Instagram subscribers. It will be fun!
It is one more way to use Instagram at school and create Reels. Ask the students to find and take a video of what seems unusual to them, stand out of the ordinary. For instance, it can be a Math book on the Psychology shelf in the library, a can of soda lying on the sidewalk, not in the trash bin. The commentary to such a publication will be thoughts on the impact of society and its rules on our lives. But… you don’t need to write a post itself, but make grammatical mistakes in it on purpose! Then, at the end of the post, there should be a call to find these mistakes and correct them in the comments.
One of the students’ favorite reading tasks is reading a text and choosing a suitable name for it. Turn the same thing on Instagram. You publish a 15-seconds Reels episode. And your students must come up with a signature for it – of course, in a language you study. You will have to reward the best offer somehow. Come up with an incentive in advance and inform students about it. In short, motivate yourself to be active, as is customary in social networks.
Work, Study, and Travel
Students should visit any place in the city where they are now, take photos, maybe edit these pics with services like this site, and talk about them. The post’s target audience will be classmates (if you study online with students from different cities) or foreign penpals. Don’t forget to use Instagram Reels, Stories and, use your hashtag and go on a virtual journey with your students.
A few important points
Some students may be embarrassed to write in a foreign language right away. That is because classmates, friends, and relatives will see their posts. Offer them to send you publications for preliminary verification. You can create a general chat where students can write their questions to do this. They can ask about grammar, sentence construction, or unfamiliar words. This will be useful for the whole group.
No one on the network speaks in academic phrases. Be sure to discuss popular expressions on the Internet in the introductory lesson. That will make your students comfortable expressing their thoughts in a foreign language.
Be sure to share everything you can: inspiration, ideas and tricks for videos and photos, educational Instagram accounts. For example, you can recommend bloggers you follow as well as language learning pages that will replenish their vocabulary. Ask students to tell who they like from foreign bloggers and why.
Now, your students are your main audience, so set them an example. Keep your Instagram page publishing interesting content. Even if you do not have many subscribers, write posts not only about the language you teach. For example, tell your audience about your hobbies, pets, or favorite books.
The main principle of Instagram is to be original and passionate about what you do. Telling about your hobbies, goals, and interests is a great opportunity to improve your language skills. And you can find foreign-speaking like-minded people.
I hope such extracurricular activities will help your students improve their language skills!