Youtube as a Tool for ESL Teaching

I touched on this in my last post and thought I would not think about this again, but then my practicum teacher used Youtube three more times on Monday and it occurred to me just how useful Youtube can be in teaching ESL classes.

On Monday, my teacher showed her classes parts of Horrid Henry The Move. The kids really like Horrid Henry because he is a rebellious kid who breaks schools’ rules, gets away with it and somehow ends up pranking the teachers in the process.  He is sort of like Dennis the Menace in school (I hope you know who Dennis the Menace is). It was amazing to see how quiet the Grade 3s and 4s would become when the teacher would play that movie. These Grade 3s and 4s can barely glue a picture into their scrapbook without getting distracted and yet, when Horrid Henry is playing, their focus increases tenfold.

My teacher used Horrid Henry as a reward. She told the class that if they behaved and if they finished their scrapbook activity on time, then they could watch Horrid Henry, and it worked. When doing the scrapbook activity, the kids would say things (in French) like “Hurry up so we can watch Horrid Henry.” They would hurry and finish fifteen minutes before the end of class just so that they can watch the movie for fifteen minutes.

I looked into how Youtube can be useful. English Teacher Tarun Patel describes why a teacher would want to use Youtube on his blog. First of all, you can find a video on anything on Youtube.  You can find videos that offer authentic examples of everyday English, videos that teach you pronunciation and a variety of videos which provide a break from the usual text-based activities. He mentions that BBC has its own channel on Youtube. Personally, I would not use it because I do not want my students to acquire an English accent. Instead, I would show my students either Canadian or American (without the southern accent) videos.

On English Teacher Sue Swift’s blog, she describes an activity she does with the class that utilizes Youtube. She would ask the students to make a promotional presentation for visiting Australia. She would give her students topics to look up on Youtube that relate to Australia, and she would have them take notes and then make their own presentations. This sounds like a really neat activity. As a teacher, I could do something similar and make Canada the focus of my activity.

Another teacher also uses Youtube for her activities. She would look for videos that match the subject matter of her lessons and make some of kind of activity out of them. For example, she might have the students fill in a questionnaire as they are watching the video or they might make a presentation on an aspect of the video after they have watched it. This sounds great. I can see the students being a lot more interested in activities that involve Youtube rather than the usual teacher presentation.

Youtube also has members who post English lessons for free. Jennifer, an experienced teacher, has free ESL lessons on youtube. Her videos range from pronunciation to basic grammar to functional language. If I was an ESL student who needed more help with a certain aspect of English, I could easily search for it on Youtube. One thing I could do is provide links to these videos in class so that students can study from home if they need extra help.

Just typing “ESL lessons” on the Youtube search engine gave me 93,900 results and this is amazing. I did not even know that so many ESL videos existed. Now, if a student says “I don’t understand …” I could tell him to look for the explanation on Youtube and then tell me the answer.



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