Five things to look for in YouTube clips

What YouTube clips are going to "work" with your learners? Here's one, which I've not used with a class of learners (yet!) but which seems to have a lot going for it…

With just about any YouTube video you use with learners you want:

  1. A short clip, under 3 minutes definitely, under 2 better, under 1 terrific!
  2. Clear sound
  3. Something that it will lead on to, perhaps discussion, definitely use of the language and interaction between the learners

This one I spotted today on The Guardian under the headline Brad Pitt's Chanel No 5 ad: the smell of disaster, which gives me (4) a related article or other text to read and get further language and discussion from; the latter might take place after class, outside class, via an Edmodo group. Note also the other ads linked to in the article.

All I need now is (5) a simple, meaningful listening task of some kind; I'm thinking along the lines of seeing if, in pairs, the learners can jot down what Mr Pitt says verbatim…

But perhaps someone can suggest a better listening task… or a sixth (or seventh thing!) to look for in clips?

Texts learners actually want to read

Here's a story I spotted this morning when I opened Google Reader, as I do first thing every morning. I do that because almost every morning it brings me something I could use in class.

The headline that caught my eye was Miami Invaded By Giant, House-Eating Snails, and I immediately bookmarked it on Delicious, in fact even before I'd actually read the whole article. I'm not sure when I'll use it or with which class but it's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for…

What I'm thinking as I scan the headlines is that any story with a headline I want to click is maybe a text my learners are going to want to read; and any text they want to read is one I want to take to class.

And being on NPR, the article also comes with an audio version and a transcript (not to mention a photo to import to my interactive whiteboard).

Video for Business English classes

These links came from posts on the IATEFL Business English SIG

In the video, Phil Dourado talks about his book The 60 Second Leader. You'll find lots more "60 Second" videos on YouTube and I think they'd work great in a Business English class.

They're not all 60 second videos, which is a shame — as the shorter, the better for listening activities in class, in my experience.

But they are at least videos, not audios, and it's so much more interesting to watch than just to listen. Let's get rid of listening comprehension and bring in watching comprehension, as I've suggested before.

And, to people in a business world, such things are of genuine interest, which is regretably not always the case with the listening materials in general ELT coursebooks.

There's stacks more interesting things of a similar business nature (also suggest on BESIG) on and

Getting teens to listen, and write, in English

I very much liked one of the many suggestions Usoa Sol made in her talk, Listen up! Getting teens to listen in English, given at the IH Barcelona ELT Conference — getting kids to write emails from the protagonists of the song.

Usoa suggested Dido's Thank You, though I wonder if it's got a strong enough storyline and whether or not it tells us enough that we can interpret about the characters. Perhaps White Flag might work better, partly because you've got a YouTube videoclip there that appears to add something to the story.

I'm showing my age here, I guess, but one I'd really go for would be Springsteen's Johnny 99 (video above), which has a more powerful, more obvious story in it, I think.

Neat idea — and so much better and richer than just another gap-filled song. You could then get your teens to respond to each other's mails…