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YouTube in the Classroom!

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Now that a growing majority of Internet users have broadband, YouTube and other video clip sites (Google Video, Vimeo, etc.) have become very popular - especially with young adults. These sites also provide English learners and classes with a new tool to improve listening skills. The real advantage to these sites - at least from a language learning point of view - is that they offer authentic examples of everyday English used by everyday people. Students can spend hours watching videos in English and quickly improve their pronunciation and comprehension skills through mimicry. There are also hours of English learning videos provided by excellent teachers as well. Using YouTube in the ESL classroom can be fun and helpful, but it certainly needs some structure. Otherwise, class might turn into a free-for-all.

Of course, this is the challenge. Students may enjoy watching these clips, but poor sound quality, pronunciation and slang can make these short videos even more difficult to understand. On the other hand, students are attracted to the "real life" nature of these videos. By creating context for these short videos you can help your students explore a world of online English learning possibilities.

Aim: Improve listening skills

Activity: Sharing YouTube videos

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Outline:

  • At the end of one of your classes, decide on a particular topic that your class would enjoy. You can do this as a poll, take suggestions or choose a topic on your own that fits in well with your curriculum.
  • Before the next lesson begins, go to YouTube and search for short videos on the topic your class has chosen. Once you have found appropriate videos, save the urls in your browser. If you do not have an Internet connection in class, go to Keepvid. This site allows you to download the video to your computer which you can later use in class.
  • Watch the video a few times and create a difficult vocabulary guide. Write a short introduction to the videos you will watch. The more context you provide the better your students will understand the videos they are about to watch. Include both the short introduction and difficult vocabulary list on a class handout. Make sure to include the url (web page address) of the YouTube video.
  • Create a short quiz based on the videos.
  • Hand out the introduction sheets and go through the introduction and difficult vocabulary list to make sure everyone understands.
  • Watch the videos together as a class. If you have a computer lab this will work better as students can pair up and watch videos repeatedly. Students can then work on the quiz sheet in small groups or in pairs.
  • Most likely, your videos will be amusing and students will want to watch many more. This is to be encouraged! If possible, give students 20 minutes or so at the computers to explore YouTube.
  • For homework: In groups of four to five students, students should find a short video of their own to present to the class. Ask them to provide a short introduction, difficult vocabulary list and follow-up quiz modeled on the worksheet you have created for your class. Remind students to include the url (web page address) of the YouTube video.
  • Have students exchange worksheets with another group and complete the exercise. Students can then compare notes on the videos they have watched.

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