Using Clips™ in the modern languages classroom

A guest blog post by Joe Dale

The Clips app from Apple has proved a real classroom hit around the world since its launch last year. This app is popular with both primary and secondary age learners. Moreover, it is straightforward to use and has simplified the process of movie-making with Instagram-like square videos. That means learners are able to focus on their learning and not on the technology. Clips can be put together with little technical expertise. They can feature animated titles, labels, emoticons, arrows, shapes filters and a soundtrack. These support all learners in producing professional-looking multimedia outcomes to showcase their learning. Check out the hashtag #classroomclips on Twitter to see a plethora of examples.

Multilingual live captions

The killer feature for language learning is multilingual live captioning. Students are able to record themselves speaking in front of the camera. They can also create subtitles in real time over video or stills. These lip-sync automatically with their voice. This is a game changer for easy subtitling. Live captioning is available in an impressive range of languages. It should also provide welcome support to those with hearing difficulties, reluctant writers. It is also helpful for those who like to learn through making sound-spelling links. Please note the Clips app will only work if your device has the latest iOS.

Ideas for using Clips™ in the languages classroom

  • Record a one stop animation with the iMotion app in portrait mode so it produces a square video and add a voiceover in Clips. If you choose the time-lapse option it makes the process even quicker.
  • In the app PicsArt Animator, choose the square format and draw an animation using the duplicate slide feature where you add a new element in each new slide. Export results as a video and add a voiceover in Clips with live titles.
  • Take a selfie with a filter. Then, pinch the picture with thumb and finger. This moves it to the right or left of the screen so a black column appears. Add animated text labels in the column and edit them with short phrases.
  • Use or to find royalty free images you can add to Clips.
  • Use to draw images with the square template, turn them into clip art and import them into Clips.
  • Video different shots of a town plan and add arrows and speech bubbles with a voiceover for the topic of giving directions.
  • Use emojis with speech bubbles or import videos made in avatar apps such as My Talking Avatar Free to practise dialogues.
  • Add speech bubbles to photos using Balloon Stickies Plus, combine them into a grid in Pic Collage and import the photo story into Clips where you can add a voiceover while planning from frame to frame in the grid.
  • Add different text labels on to one background for some vocabulary or verb conjugations, import the video into the IMGPlay app so you can turn it into a gif and upload it on to a Padlet wall where it will loop forever reinforcing the content through animation.
  • Use iOS11 screen recording to capture simple animations made in Keynote, trim them in the photos app and import them into Clips.
  • Ask your class to upload their Clips to Padlet or Flipgrid so they can be all watched in the same place and commented on.

Exploring more ideas

For further ideas on using Clips in the classroom, I would recommend you download the eBook Using Clips in the Foreign Languages Classroom by Rachel Smith and Short Film in Clips by Simon Pile from The iBookStore. For Android users, I would suggest the closest equivalent to Clips would be the app InShot although this doesn’t have live titles. It is also available on iOS.

Joe Dale is an independent languages consultant from the UK. He works with a range of organisations such as Network for Languages, ALL, The British Council, the BBC, Skype, Microsoft and The Guardian. Joe was host of the TES MFL forum for six years, former SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner, and a regular conference speaker. He is also a recognised expert on technology and language learning.