Teaching Listening and Speaking with YouTube
ELI145: From YouTube to the Movies
One of the last classes I taught at the English Language Institute at Oregon State University before moving to the University of Oregon was a very interesting listening/speaking elective course called "From YouTube to the Movies." It was open to students at intermediate and advanced levels. The course took place primarily on Blackboard, so I've reproduced some of the key elements here to make it more widely accessible.
I started the course off with some YouTube clips, but quickly moved into a format where students selected and presented YouTube videos, and I showed full-length movies in chunks. The student-selected videos were better than YouTube clips that I found. The fundamental instructions were that they needed to bein English; about 3 minutes long; not obscene, racist, or sexist; and understandable to the other students in the class. Students worked in teams to find the videos and prepare their introduction, vocabulary words, and comprehension questions for their videos.
The full-length movies were interspersed with the student videos. Each movie took about 5-6 class sessions. Students did pre-viewing work, took notes while viewing, and wrote responses at the end of the movies. We used The Perfect Storm (starts low, but it has everyone at the edge of their seats by the end) and My Best Friend's Wedding (a case study in jealousy and selfishness, and amusing to see Julia Roberts as the bad guy/gal). One appealed to the realists and the other to the romantics. I tweaked and used the great material that my colleague Donna Shaw had put together for both movies.
For a final project, students created their own mini-videos explaining at least one idiom or slang term. Using a Flip Video camera made filming and downloading the recorded videos easy.
Here are some of the videos we used:
Week 1 (my selections): Cell phones
- Using Cell Phones while Driving: https://www.eslvideo.com/quiz_new.php?id=674&pagenum=12
From ScienCentral.com via www.eslvideos.com - a study using a driving simulator. Try the quiz at the end.
- Public Service Announcement: https://www.youtube.com/v/VOIZ0Kx67Ig&hl=en&fs=1
What are at least four suggestions for driving safely while using a cell phone?
- City bans cell phone use by city employees: https://www.youtube.com/v/jYwvhk-dvms&hl=en&fs=1
Why did Baltimore ban cell phone use? Who does not have to follow the rule? When will this rule begin?
- Stupid Things to Try with your Phone: https://www.videojug.com/film/stupid-things-to-try-with-your-phone
What do you think? Are these good ideas? Do you have any other suggestions for similar things to try?
Linkin Park: What I’ve done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjBZh-yRmkc
The students on this team were fans of the group, and this video was one that fit the not obscene/racist/sexist criteria
Friends -learning French episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMIKQ7-VbS8
Being language learners themselves, the students could relate to the nonsense that sounded like French.
Moon phases: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aFGNGEcDOk
A clear documentary for the science-minded.
Do you speak English? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fijBUeqiW0g
This is one of my all-time favorites. I find it amusing each time I see it. All the students liked it, too.
Heroes trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4m_y14CDjc
This one was harder for the intermediate-level students to understand. Some had never seen the TV show; others decided to watch the show after seeing the trailer.
If all movies had cell phones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH2B9F-GPm0
Another of my favorites. Great for movie buffs. The Gilligan's Island clip was a stretch for the students, but they recognized many of the others.
Mythbusters – phone book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtieXgPrj_4
Another science-ish video, with an element of "don't try this at home"
Axis of Evil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzxvi4v1Kxw
This one provoked mixed emotions among the students. One Korean student said he was initially offended at the description of North Korea, then realized that the object of the joke was George Bush, not North Korea. It's another one that worked better with advanced students than with intermediate ones.
George Carlin's 7 Dirty Words: Then and Now https://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=fiTNyX4tReE
Students living in the dorms hear these words all the time. Even though they're bleeped out of the video, it's pretty clear what is being said. For advanced students, this was more thought-provoking than for intermediate students. It would be better to start with an explanation of what the FCC is, since it's so frequently referenced in the video.
Electing a US President in plain English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok_VQ8I7g6I
This is the clearest explanation of the Electoral College I've ever had. Now I think I understand it...
Halloween history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-VRAemIvbI
This worked well as an end-of-October video. Some parts are easier to understand than others, but it's generally pretty clear.
I gave students a number of sites to look at, but by far the most widely used was YouTube.
- ESLvideo (www.eslvideo.com) lets you choose by English level - beginning to advanced. Most videos have quizzes, and many videos have a tapescript. This is a good choice to start with.
- ScienCentral (www.ScienCentral.com) doesn't have tapescripts, but it has interesting content. Videos are 3-4 minutes long.
- VideoJug (www.videojug.com) has videos by category. Many videos have transcripts. You will need to choose carefully to find one that will work for this class.
- Lingual.Net (www.lingual.net) is designed for learning English. You can watch the short videos with subtitles on or off, see a script, or take a quiz. The videos can take a long time to load, so be prepared. This site also has a lot of pop-up ads.
- YouTube (www.youtube.com) has many, many videos, but it may be hard to find one that you like and that will work for this class. Some videos are offensive.
- RealEnglish (https://www.real-english.com/reo/index.html) has videos of interviews, mostly with people on the street. There are different accents - try to guess where the people are from.
- BBC Learning English (https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/multimedia/index.shtml) has a variety of videos in their Learning English section.
In preparation for creating their own slang videos, students looked at the following slang sites.
- Video Wall has some slang videos, many related to business. You could create videos like most of these: https://www.elfs.com/0VDOD/u2b2.htm
- Slang City has a broad collection. Some of the slang you would not use in class, but you can find some interesting other possibilities. Try the Outdoor Signs to start: https://slangcity.com/realenglish/outdoorsigns/index.htm
- Learn American Slang has words and phrases with small illustrations. https://www.englishdaily626.com/slang.php
- American Slang for ESL Students is sorted by part of speech and a couple of other categories: https://www.schandlbooks.com/AmericanSlang.html
- This site has more videos. They're a little strange, but they have some interesting words: https://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to/video/how-to-use-informal-english-phrases-or-slang-220427/
Definitely a fun class, with lots of opportunities for students to listen to and speak about engaging videos.