The Need to Teach Scriptwriting in English Class

With the burst of social media into our everyday lives and the ubiquitousness of smartphones, we see the burgeoning possibilities of videos everywhere. Going beyond just movies and television shows, with the advent of Youtube, we now have videos about every topic one can imagine under the sun at the tips of our fingertips.

Needless to say, with our increasingly short attention spans, we would rather watch an instructional video about a household cleaning tip or how to install an app than read a page of instructional text. Videos are quicker and aid us in accessing and processing the information we want faster. Not only that, but the versatility of videos allows us to use them for varying purposes, be it for creating instructional materials, discussing reviews of products, or creating entertainment materials.

Considering this, it would not be an overstatement to say that the use of video clips is soon going to far surpass the use of instructional text even in education. The evolving nature of e-learning content to m-learning content is a testament to this fact.

In such a scenario, it is not only important but also essential to introduce at least the basics of scriptwriting to students as part of their language classes. While we teachers focus on advancing students’ skills of expressing themselves through writing out their arguments and ideas, we do not want to short-change them by not exposing them to other evolving media.

Although scriptwriting is still considered a specialized skill that is relegated to an elective course in most high schools, one cannot deny that we use videos and clips in our own classes to bring to life a novel we’ve discussed in class. I’ve also had students submit video assignments when they were assigned a group creative project. When the use of videos is so pervasive in our more traditional language classes, exploring this medium further can only help our students improve their video-making skills.

Not only that, but we would be introducing students to a new, more creative form of expressing themselves, thus breaking the monotony of only writing assignments. Let me add a disclaimer that I am not advocating for only video assignments, but one in a semester could definitely enliven our classes tremendously. Likewise, this could be the beginning of a career path for some of our students as scriptwriting is currently a very lucrative career, with the demand for it only likely to increase in the future.

Therefore, while the more technical aspects of scriptwriting and the distinguishing aspects of screenwriting do belong in a more specialized class, we English teachers ought to consider breaking down the basics of writing for a production or a video for our students. Students would definitely benefit from the differences in the language that ought to be used for an instructional video as opposed to narrative video. The introduction of the concept of a storyboard, likewise, would give them a glimpse into the world of screenwriting at large.

What your thoughts on this topic? As an English teacher, is this something you would consider introducing to your students? Share your ideas in the comments below.