Practical examples

Using Vines to study proverbs

While working on a school project, one of the students proposed to let each group make a vine about their part of the project, because “a vine forces you to focus on the essence”. Apparently most of our students know how to make vines, they posted the results in our closed fb-group and the results were fun, to-the-point and creative. This got me thinking about other ways to integrate vines in my language class.


Vine is a video-service owned by Twitter that allows users to create short (6 seconds) videos that play in a loop. Vines are easy to create with a vine app on an ipad or a smartphone. You can record with or without sound and no editing is needed as the app stops recording when you release the button and resumes when pressed again. You can share the video on Twitter, Facebook or on the Vine website using a hashtag. They are mostly used by the internet to share silliness, but I believe that they can also be of use in the classroom.


Vines are great for sharing things that can be explained visually. My idea was to use vines to depict Dutch expressions and proverbs. I started by creating a Drive document with a list of ten Dutch expressions for each group of 3-4 students. During the first class, students had to look up the meaning of these expressions and use them in a sentence. And during the second class they were given time to turn at least 5 of these expressions into a vine.

Example: “kicking in an open door”.

Source: @Yana Lenaerts Vine Post

Example: “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”

Source: @Silke Vanlathem Vine Post


The students really enjoyed this assignment and the results were really fun. The even continued creating vines at home and posting them after the class had ended, and several pets were called upon to star in the short movies, as you can see below.

“buying a cat in a bag”

Source: @Kato Vine Post


Some teachers object to the use of technology and movies on account of two main factors: it is said to be time consuming and you lose control over your classroom when you set students free to roam around the school with their smart phones. As for the first objection: after merely two hours, the students had jointly looked up the meaning of 50 expressions and had created a visual learning aid for at least 25 of them. So I think that is pretty good when it comes to productivity. Also, I found it quite easy to keep an eye on the different groups even when they were filming “on location” as the vines appear the minute they are posted. This way you can see which group is where and what they are doing. I just walked around the school with my own phone, checking up on the different groups and following their progress online.

Source: @Mitte Schroeven Vine Post


Overall, I considered this class a success, and so did my students. The only thing that I wasn’t completely satisfied with, was the way we shared the vines. They were posted directly onto the Vine website using a hashtag (of their own choosing, as you might notice ;-)), but as some students made a mistake in the hashtag or forgot to add it, the vines were a bit hard to find. We looked at them together in the classroom, but it would’ve been nicer if they were easily available afterwards for the students to study them. For next year I’m thinking of maybe creating a closed Facebook group for my class (as this is still the way most of my students communicate), or maybe assemble them on a blog*. Either way, it should be an easy accessible environment in which they can see each others work, comment on them and of course study the expressions.

This year, my students told me that Vines are pretty much dead these days (whereas I seem to remember that last year they were still hugely popular), and asked me if they couldn’t make Boomerangs or use And that worked perfectly as well. And it didn’t even involve me knowing what a Boomerang or actually was…


I can think of many other interesting uses of vines in the classroom: letting student explain short definitions, making studying vocab in foreign language classes more visual, doing a short pitch for a project, … Vines are easy to create and moreover, they appeal to students’ love for visual items that require a short attention span: for us ten seconds might seem nothing, but my students often used only three seconds out of the ten that are available.

Source: @Yana Lenaerts Vine Post


*After writing this post, unfortunately, I’ve found out that the gifs cannot easily be embedded or uploaded in a blog post. So a Facebook group would probably be my first choice. This worked well, since the students could guess the expressions in the comments and like each other’s work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s