Making more of YouTube for EAL learners

Today’s activity for use at home with EAL learners during the school closures is from Pete Clements, EAL teacher in Thailand. He shares some cracking YouTube themed activities.

YouTube is full of great educational channels – I’m sure your secondary learners already have their favourites. My go-to channel for awesome videos is Great Big Story. It’s not an educational channel per se, but it’s full of interesting content and you’re bound to find something there that will engage your learners. I’ve shared a list of other sites to help educators in this older post on my blog, which includes a great feature from the BBC – Tim’s Pronunciation Workshop.  Anyhow, there are some other sites that make use of YouTube videos for educational purposes, some of which might help your older learners with self-study.

Youglish is a useful site to help with pronunciation. Many online dictionaries include model pronunciation of words in isolation, and occasionally in sentences. But this site is great for real, contextual examples of how to pronounce words.

Type a word or phrase into the search bar and choose the variety of English you want to hear. The search brings up a series of YouTube videos (sometimes in the thousands!) that include the word/phrase being used in context. The videos are cued to a few seconds before you hear the target phrase, with subtitles under the video for learners to follow.

You don’t know what the video will be – it could be a clip from a chat show, a parliamentary speech, anything really. But it doesn’t matter – you only need to watch a few seconds to hear the word used naturally, then you can skip to the next example. It’s a really useful tool – the only downside is that it errs towards native speaker varieties.

You might want to recommend this site to MFL teachers too, as there’s Youglish for Spanish, French, and so on, although they are slightly limited in comparison to the array of examples in English.

This is an excellent site – instant quizzes for YouTube videos. Choose a video from the list, which are categorised by grammar, vocabulary, or CEFR level. It will link to instant videos for listening practice where learners type in the missing word or chunk. Users can generate their own quizzes on their chosen videos too.

This site has proven very popular with my teens for self-study. It works best on a desktop computer/laptop and comes highly recommended, having been a finalist in the 2017 British Council ELTons Awards.
Remember that iSL Collective also have a video lessons section, which is pretty good (although I’ve used that less than Tube Quizard).

Lyrics Training
This site was highly recommended at my previous school (British Council Thailand), and for good reason. Type in a song and, as long as it’s fairly well-known, you’ll find it’s been converted into an instant gap-fill listening challenge on Lyrics Training. The selling point for learners is that it’s gamified – you need to type the missing words in the song in order for the video to continue. A timer will tick down for a bit of added pressure.
Be careful with this one! My teens already know the lyrics to a lot of popular songs, so there’s no real challenge at times. Make sure they choose songs that they are less familiar with, giving them some real listening practice! Oh, do remember though – PARENTAL ADVISORY, EXPLICIT LYRICS.

I hope you find these useful. What other sites or subscription channels would you recommend to help EAL learners make the most of YouTube?

Pete Clements is an EAL Teacher, Consultant and Materials Writer based in Thailand. He currently teaches Secondary EAL at St. Andrews 107 in Bangkok. He blogs at

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