Videos can be an effective tool for teaching and learning English (or, for that matter, any academic subject) if used strategically and not as a "babysitting" device. My colleague Katie Hull Sypnieski and I wrote a previous post for Edutopia titled Eight Ways To Use Videos With English-Language Learners that shares instructional strategies for many kinds of clips. Here are a few of my favorite videos to use with those exercises.
Video Playlist: Resources for English-Language Learners
Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.
- Mr. Bean - Getting Ready on the Way (4:11)
There are many popular television shows and movies that can be great tools for English-language development, and it's probably a safe bet to say that Mr. Bean is one used by English teachers throughout the world. You can find countless videos on the official Mr. Bean YouTube channel. Mr. Bean clips are great for use with the "Back to the Screen" technique explained here.
- Connect With English (5:01)
I regularly use Connect With English, a video series designed to help students learn English and be more engaging. It seems to be one of the better ones of its type out there (though it's beginning to feel slightly dated). Annenberg Learner, the series' creator, has all the videos and accompanying interactive exercises on its website available for free. Readers might also be interested in this companion one-page worksheet. In it, students have to make predictions based on the title of the episode, explain if their predictions were correct, and then write several questions about the episode to ask a partner afterward. It’s good listening, speaking, and writing practice.
- Asking For An Opinion (0:90)
English Central has a huge quantity of videos on their site integrated with their own software. The videos teach English vocabulary and grammar, and they automatically evaluate the pronunciation of users who are recording what they hear. Much of this content is free, and you can also pay for more advanced features.
- Learning English Irregular Verbs (3:40)
This is perhaps the best-known video from Jason R. Levine's Fluency MC, and he offers many similar ones on his YouTube channel. Music is a great language-learning tool, and Jason combines it with a video demonstration, making this an unforgettable lesson in verb tenses.
- You're So Beautiful (2:37)
This is a beautiful and popular song to use with English-language learners -- it's slow and reinforces learning adjectives. More importantly, however, this video shows the lyrics in time as the song is sung. You can find many of these clips by searching the name of a song plus "lyrics videos" on YouTube. Even the New York Times has written about their growing popularity. I specifically look for songs that reinforce the thematic unit we're studying. We practice the song with students, record them on SoundCloud, and embed it in our class blog, providing students and their families with an opportunity to hear their growing English abilities.
- If You're Happy And You Know It (1:51)
The British Council Learn English Kids YouTube channel is a great source of videos for younger English-language learners. "If You're Happy and You Know It" gives you a taste of what you can find there.
- Gus vs. Pool (1:45)
Research has shown that perseverance is a key quality of a successful language learner. I show this video to my ELL students, and after they describe it in writing and verbally, I ask them to tell me how they think its content might be related to learning a new language. The video serves as a fun introduction to an important topic.
- Scaffolding for Middle School ELLs (2:07)
While the other videos on the playlist are for English-language learners, this one is for teachers. It's just one of a nice collection from Colorin Colorado showing educators demonstrating instructional strategies in the classroom. Three other similarly good classroom collections can be found at The Teaching Channel, the Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory Educational Program, and the University of Oregon's Online Learning Language Center.
More Resources on How to Teach ELLs With Video
For more sources of good videos designed for English-language development, and for ideas on how to use them, visit these websites:
- The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them) is an exhaustive collection that I've developed.
- Lessons on Movies is a site created by Sean Banville and is filled with language-development lessons for a long list of popular movies.
- Using Video In The Classroom – A Teacher’s Handbook is a free resource by David Deubelbeiss, who has recently begun a great free video site for ELLs called GIF Lingua.
- Film In Action, Kieran Donaghy's site, is a treasure trove of video and related lessons for English-language learners.
- Video For All is a European-funded site with tons of ideas on how to use video for language-development instruction.