New Learning English site

The BBC's excellent Learning English site has had a makeover.

Among the changes is a new option to download the audio for the Words in the News section, the archives for which go back to 1999. You also have the 190+ episodes of The Flatmates, a section on pronunciation, plus a section for teachers.

It's definitely a site to recommend to your learners (and perhaps suggest that they make it their default home page) but it also has things you could use in class.

VideoJug: a cool alternative to YouTube

Halloween? Kissing? Halo 3 Tips…? The "How to" video is on VideoJug

My colleague Carolyn Edwards has just told me about It's not quite YouTube but has stacks of "How to" videos on it.

As a lesson, you could probably get a lot of mileage out of asking your learners before watching "How to" go about a particular task; get them to make notes of the stages involved; then watch and, while watching, get them to tick in their notes which are mentioned in the video — giving you student-generated, ready-made, photocopy-free listening comprehension questions.

As a follow-up, assuming you have access to a video camera (or video-equipped mobile phones), get them in groups to (first) storyboard a video of their own and (then) film it.

Your films could then be uploaded on to VideoJug or YouTube, and/or embedded on a class blog.

Not so sure the Love&Sex section is somewhere you want to take your (young) learners (like "Creative Kissing" or the hilarious Avoid Trapped Arm Whilst Cuddling In Bed) but with adults there lots of fun stuff there, and in the site's other sections.

Oh, and don't miss the Halloween videos

Great stuff on YouTube for English teachers

Bruce Springsteen interviewed on the OGWT in 1978

There's a ton of great listening comprehension on YouTube, stuff that's so much more interesting than the things that come on your coursebook CD — to start with because (especially to kids!) watching a video clip of (say) a song is so much more interesting than a CD…

Getting them to do the work
One of my colleagues suggested having the learners, in pairs, search for a suitable interview with a famous person, and then write listening comprehension questions for another pair. Get them to choose the video — don't you make the choice.

Doing that means that there is so much more active involvement of the learners, with them wanting to listen, and wanting to listen again. Whether or not they come up with great listening comprehension questions is not important either: what the activity does is make them creators, not merely consumers of content.

Or letting someone else do the work…?
If you prefer someone else to do part of your lesson planning for you, is a site which will interest you.

On you have YouTube-like videos conveniently sorted by subject and level of difficulty, many of them with a subtitle option.

In a recent issue of HLT, there were more ideas for exploiting YouTube.

And here's another idea from Nik Peachey's excellent blog…

Horse race dictation

Another idea from, which came to me via its RSS feed: a horse race dictation, in which "students try to predict the order of words in a jumbled sentence before listening for the answer" — the listening requiring the teacher to give them a horse race commentary with the words taking the place of the horses.

I've not actually tried it out, but it sounds like a lot of fun…!

BBC World Service Radio

BBC World Service Radio

One for your learners: BBC World Service Radio, which you can listen to live as well as to featured programs (eg. the "Dollar a Day" series, in the image, above, an excellent one).

Recommend your learners to change the default start page of their browsers to the BBC and recommend them to listen — every day. How many of them are in jobs in which they do listen to music or the radio on their headphones..?

It's such good practice, if it's regular — as well as being a great radio station!

>> An alternative: