Friday, September 28, 2012

Using Youtube in the ESL Classroom: Karaoke and more

Youtube.  What would I do without you?  Where would I get my cute-things-doing-cute-things fix?  Where would I get to hear news segments in autotune?  And where else, pray-tell, can I watch 36 seconds of a baby eating a watermelon from the inside?

Youtube is a cool tool in the ESL classroom.  Here's how I used it.

Watching Short Student-Selected Youtube Videos

Sometimes, I let my students choose youtube videos to watch.  The idea was that they would talk about it, and then so would the rest of the class.  This didn't always work as well as I had hoped.  Oftentimes the kids didn't have much to say, or didn't want to say much.  I heard "I like it," quite a lot.  If I asked "Why?" they would say something like, "Because."  So much for student talk time...

And, they had some issues following the criteria for selecting a video.  Here were my guidelines: It had to be in English, it had to be less than 4 minutes, and it had to be "appropriate".

No matter how many times I said it, there were a few kids (and classes) that always (and I mean always) chose something that broke one of the rules.

Here are a few examples:

The Fail Videos

These contain minimal English, aren't always appropriate, and are always so so long and excruciating to watch.  Basically, Fail videos consist of something terrible (usually physical) happening to someone.  I spent a lot of time having moral dilemmas with my eyes closed before closing the tab.

The Sad/Funny/Cute Baby Animal Videos

The sadder the better, so they can laugh and go "awww" at the same time.  And babies (animal babies, no less) totally speak English, right?  So it's educational.

The Really Disturbing Videos

If you didn't think the Fail videos were bad enough, try the Happy Tree Friends series.  One of my 8th grade classes was obsessed with it.  The first time they put it on, I had no idea.  It sounds so sweet, so innocent, but as you can see from the video above, it's not.  They played me, and then I threw up in my mouth, and reduced all of their grades by 1 point.

The list of youtube video offenders is endless: Best Of Family Guy compilations, Counter-Strike videos, and many many videos involving troll-face.

Including this one:

I never really got troll face.  I still don't.  But my students are all about ... it?  Him?  Hmm.


Karaoke is so much fun with younger classes.  Start with a group song that most people know.  Use songs with lyrics on the video in karaoke style, but don't use videos without vocals.  Many students need the vocals in order to sing along and to build their confidence.  My karaoke classes were like parties, we all had such a blast!  And we all know kids (and everyone, really) learn best when they're having fun.  I teach best when I'm having fun, too.

my 7th grade girls singing their hearts out

Prepare a list of go-to songs in case your class is quiet and no one steps up to the plate to choose a song.

Popular songs for my students included:

Rolling in the Deep - Adele
It's My Life - Bon Jovi
Let it Be - the Beatles
Coldplay - Paradise

Choose a song in their native language and try to sing it!  They will love this, and maybe, if you're lucky, they will help you.

This was my Hungarian song of choice:

Listening Activities with Music

I often turn to youtube for my listening activities (I will post some of these soon), and it saves on paper because the kids are able to see the lyrics visually.  The downside is that sometimes the lyrics are incorrect.  Also, while I am a fan of trees, I also think some kids function much better with a piece of paper to hold.  It also gives them a place to write notes and translations, if they need to.

Cute, Funny, or Controversial Clips

I show cute or inciting video clips.  This ranges from anything between a gay marriage stance to the baby eating the watermelon from the inside.  Why?  Either to prove a point, illustrate an accent, spark a debate (ha ha ha, yeah right), or just share something ridiculously funny/cute.

Grammar Points

If you are looking for videos to help you teach grammar points, check out this guy's blog.  He has tons of grammatical lesson plans that go with movie clips, all of which you can find on youtube.

. . .

I'm curious how you all use youtube and videos in the classroom, and if there are any particular videos you found that went over well in the classroom.  I'm also always happy to see any cute or funny videos you want to send my way.  As long as it's not Happy Tree Friends.

1 comment:

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