Diary submitted by Darija T., Valencia, 2020
How can YouTube videos foster students’ desire to learn English?
EFL classroom has, thanks to the technology, become a place where teachers are more and more motivated to experiment with teaching methods. Handbooks, which used to be the main source of knowledge, are now replaced with more modern strategies and in this review, I will try to describe using YouTube videos as one of them. To be more precise, I will reflect on the way I introduced Ted Talks and movie excerpts within my lessons and the reaction it elicited from the students.
Ted Talks can be found easily on YouTube. They are considered to be educational talks which promote the slogan Ideas worth spreading. Personally, I am a big fan of Ted Talks. Throughout my studies, I have watched dozens of them either for education or just entertainment purpose. As my major was English Language and Literature, I found Ted Talks extremely useful in terms of enhancing both my listening skills and widening my vocabulary. Having started to teach recently, I decided to include them in my lessons thinking that if this was once beneficial for me as a student, some of my students can surely recognize the benefits of them too. According to testimonials of some former students (Cucinotta, O. 2014.), Ted Talks bring diverse voices, questions or even conflicts into classroom discussions. The best way to use them is to prepare discussion questions for every stage of the class (before, during and after the video). I started the class by asking introductory questions related to the topic of the video. After that, I played and paused the video. Throughout the pauses, I asked the students to paraphrase what’s been said and singled out the unfamiliar vocabulary. Their reactions were more than desirable. They enjoyed watching the video and were eager to answer my questions. Some of them had trouble with understanding the speech because there were no subtitles, but I firmly believe that this is a good way to train and sharpen their listening skills. Some students revealed that they have already watched some Ted Talks on their own and the others approached me a few days later saying that they found and listened new talks at home. Students’ reactions have thus proved that Ted Talks can indeed be a valuable tool in EFL classroom which I will continue to implement.
The other source I used were the movie scenes. As being part of popular culture, movies are considered fun to watch which enhances students’ motivation and lowers their anxiety (Bazaee, P, Ebrahimi, Y, 2016.). I began the class by asking questions about movie preferences (favorite actors, directors, films, scenes, etc.). After that, I played the scenes, one by one. At first, I played each at whole and then with pauses so as to ask questions and to clarify the new vocabulary. Since the students reacted positively, I found this to be a great activity. They participated right from the very beginning, sharing their movie preferences with rest of the class. They also listened and wrote down patiently all the new vocabulary. This activity, just as the previous one, combined both listening and speaking skills with the acquisition of the new vocabulary. Vocabulary in particular was especially valuable because it contained so many phrases, idioms and collocations. In other words, it contained everyday language which can sometimes be difficult to find in the old-fashioned handbooks. It also helped me encourage my students to start watching original instead of dubbed versions of movies which, in some EFL contexts, can be a huge stumbling stone. Considering all of the previously mentioned elements, I concluded that introducing movies in the lessons is something I should continue with.
To sum up, I would say that EFL classroom, even though it may be challenging, is definitely an area in which teachers nowadays can show all their creativity and use variety of methods. Since we cannot escape from technology and omnipresent popular culture, we should try to make the most of it. Therefore, Ted Talks and movie scenes, among all the others educational YT videos, should become part of the activities EFL teachers are not afraid of using.
- Bazaee, P., Ebrahimi, Y. (2016). The Effect of Watching English Movies with Standard Subtitles on EFL Learners’ Content and Vocabulary Comprehension. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 3(5), 284-295.
- Cucinotta, O. (2014). How teachers can best use TED talks in class, from the perspective of a student