7 Awesome ESL Resources for Finding and Teaching with Videos Like a Rockstar
Have you ever thrown your hands up and rocked out in celebration?
You know, like when a lesson goes over extremely well with your students.
Or when you find a site that’s packed with ESL teaching gold.
Videos have the power to turn your students’ learning environment on its head, awakening them with captivating material on the big screen.
There’s a wide variety of online video platforms tailored to the needs of ESL teachers and students, so pinpointing the perfect video for your next video lesson will be a cinch.
Below you’ll find seven such resources that will completely simplify the finding and integrating of cool videos into your ESL lessons.
How These ESL Video Resources Will Benefit Your Students
Present day technology has undoubtedly shaped our current society and culture. The advancements in connecting with one another and sharing information can also be useful for you and your students. Implementing videos into your lesson plans can tantalize all of your students’ senses.
Learning a second language via video is also a fun experience. That’s why YouTube is worth billions. The use of visual stimulation for learning is not a new idea, but you can harness it in your ESL class in a more meaningful way, engaging students of all ages, English levels and backgrounds.
Videos offer your students a wealth of benefits:
- Real-world applications. Many video resources on the Internet encompass some sort of practical real-life situation. This allows students to get a feel for how English is used natively.
- Problem-solving and critical thinking. Your ESL students will need to adapt to the speech and conquer the different learning tasks that each video presents. This also allows students to think critically about the material they hear and see, rather than just focusing on what they read.
- A welcome break. Keeping your students engaged in new material using video resources is a great strategy. It will revitalize your class material, as well as your students.
- Large content base. You can pretty much find a video for any ESL student or class. The wealth of material online is virtually endless, allowing your students to find a unique way to learn new English skills.
- Subject-oriented approach. Your students will not only be learning English via videos. They may also gain valuable knowledge in other academic areas as well. This could provide a cool CLIL (Content and Language Integrate Learning) approach to learning English through meaningful academic material.
The University of Queensland in Australia has compiled a large volume of studies regarding the use of video in education having several pedagogical benefits. These studies further support the wealth of educational benefits that videos have for ESL teachers and students, both in and out of the classroom.
Good video resources are easy to find, but knowing which ones are best may be challenging. Let’s take a sneak peek at seven video platforms you can easily use during class time.
7 Rockstar Video Resources for Time-crunched ESL Teachers
National Geographic Kids
The National Geographic Kids online platform offers a wealth of learning resources for your students, including videos. Since this site is geared toward kids, the content may not complement all adult learners’ goals—though your adult students will likely still find some of the videos entertaining. (Freaky creatures and inventions are cool for all age levels!)
That said, most of these videos can work really well for beginners. Many of the videos are short, often showing a clip with music. This essentially takes the garden variety picture description exercise to a new level of student connection. Instead of your students simply looking at a picture and describing it, they can now see it in motion. It allows them to become more verb-oriented while keeping focus on the newly presented material.
Types of video segments include, but are not limited to: Animal and Pets, History and Culture, Freaky Creatures, Weird and Random, Cool Inventions, Awesome Places, Fun Science, Real or Fake?, Making Stuff and Wild Beats.
Each video has a short excerpt you can discuss with your class prior to watching the video as well. Your students can also gain knowledge about specific places and things with these informative videos. For example, “50 Birds, 50 States” shares a state’s geography told by the state bird.
Authentic videos—videos made by and for native English speakers—are a crucial resource in a teacher’s toolbox since they show the language being used naturally, with all its quirks on display. But they can be intimidating to use, since ESL students (especially beginners) often struggle to understand native speech.
FluentU makes native English-language videos approachable both for teachers and students since they’re so easy to use and loaded with learning tools. Each video comes with a key word list, a transcript, accurate subtitles with on-demand definitions and flashcard-making capabilities and review quizzes.
Students can save flashcards or you can provide them by making them or importing them. Each flashcard provides additional context by highlighting moments in other videos where the word is used. Adaptive quizzes allow students to review their learning.
FluentU also saves you time searching for videos that are at the right level for your students, since all videos can be sorted by level—from newbie to native—and also by category (i.e. business, science and technology, culture, everyday life, etc.) and format (i.e. commercials, news, video blogs, etc.).
Your students will enjoy the program’s varied content and versatility (it’s available in browsers, as well as on iOS and Android devices) and you’ll enjoy how much information you get on your end about student strengths and weaknesses. You can see what students have watched and what questions they got wrong in reviews.
Vimeo is a video sharing site that’s not intentionally geared toward ESL learning. However, ESL teachers have found the online platform more than useful for developing video lesson plans and creating a fun learning atmosphere in class. That’s because Vimeo offers something for everyone—no matter your students’ ages, levels or backgrounds. Vimeo is also a popular platform, so many of your students may already know of it or have Vimeo accounts.
It’s not nearly as popular as YouTube, but this serves to your advantage. The smaller Vimeo community tends to be more mature and serious about filmmaking, so videos are often of higher quality (though not always). Vimeo also does not have any ads.
Here are some of the categories you can choose from: Comedy, Food, Fashion, Arts and Design, Documentary, Narrative, Travel, Sports, Music, Talks, Journalism and Animation. These are only a few of the vast Vimeo category list.
A wide variety of categories will ensure that every student will find at least one video of interest. Vimeo’s Staff Picks channel is another great place to find noteworthy content.
ESLvideo.com offers videos for all English levels, with enough varied content to engage and interest students from all walks of life and professions. The best feature about ESLvideo.com is that the content is posted by teachers, for teachers and students. It’s like an ESL video resource co-op.
The videos are sorted into five levels from beginner to advanced, but not by topics or content categories. This has its benefits and pitfalls, but it still offers useful video material created by teachers around the world.
It also offers video quizzes by teachers and a quiz creator tool, so you can easily make your own video-based quizzes. Each pre-made quiz consists of multiple choice questions to the right of the video. Students can click the “see how you did” button after taking the quiz to see the correct answers. If a transcript exists, they can see it by clicking “Transcript” at the top of the quiz box, but not all videos have them.
Each quiz has an embed code on the page, so you could potentially embed these quizzes onto, say, a blog post or class website. You and your students can sign up for accounts (which are free), so that students can then send you their quiz scores by entering your teacher code. You can view them by logging in to your teacher account and clicking “Student Scores.” Here’s more information about how the site can be used in this way.
This site has a wealth of ESL materials to draw from, one of the best features being their video resources. Each elllo video consists of one question answered by native speakers in one minute or less, such as How often do you check your email?, Do you vote? or What is the typical breakfast in Germany?
Each video comes with a transcript, which you can hide by clicking the “Hide / Show Transcript (+ / -)” button underneath the video player. Click “Video Quiz” on the right to make a quick three-question multiple choice quiz appear. Buttons at the bottom of the quiz include “Check Answers” “Reset Quiz” and “Show Answers.”
Videos have either one or two speakers, and from the main library you can see the country flag(s) next to each video, corresponding to each speaker’s native country. This way you’ll know at a glance which accents to expect. Unfortunately, you can’t sort by country, nor any other category. All videos are numbered, so you have to browse the 1,400+ videos as a numbered list.
Even though they’re not well sorted, this is still an excellent video resource to use. The fact that each video is under a minute long makes them useful for specific purposes, and the candid real-world responses will help your learners comprehend native speaking speeds.
Another ESL video resource that may take your video lesson plan to the next level is EnglishCentral. There are four steps to EnglishCentral’s learning platform: (1) watch, (2) learn, (3) speak and (4) golive. In watch, you watch the subtitled video and mark any words you don’t know. Being able to watch videos with subtitles is how you can use a free EnglishCentral account with a full class.
You can browse videos by topic (Academic English, Business English, Media English, Social English, Travel English and Young Learners) or skills (Grammar, Pronunciation, Test Preparation and Useful Expressions). Once you’ve clicked inside a specific topic or skill, you can then choose between three skill levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
If students have a paid account, the next step is learn, where they type in missing words while the video plays, filling in the blanks. Speak involves saying phrases from the video into a mic, and getting a score back. Finally, golive is a 20-minute live call with a native speaker, who asks questions about the video. On a premium account, you get one golive call for every 10 videos you learn.
With a free account you can watch any of the subtitled videos from their library, but are limited to just two videos for the “learn” and “speak” steps. Premium accounts are 24 euros per month, but can be as low as 12 euros a month if you purchase a full year’s subscription.
Videos in Levels
Videos in Levels was created for English learners, and offers six levels of difficulty. The site provides a quick and simple test on their About page (which is written in easy-to-understand language) so learners can find their appropriate level according to how the site has ranked videos.
Videos are pulled in from YouTube, so essentially it’s just an easier way to browse for something suitable, since videos are tagged with a topic (i.e. Animals, Countries, Documentary, etc.) and sorted by level. Most videos have subtitles available, which again come straight from whatever is on YouTube.
There are no quizzes or extra materials on this site; its main purpose is to serve as a video library for English learners.
Implementing these video resources into your ESL classroom will keep your students on their toes and engaged in real-world material.
In fact, your learners might enjoy these videos so much that they’ll explore these sites at home on their own!
Stephen Seifert is a writer, editor, professor of English and adventurer. With nearly a decade of teaching experience to students worldwide, he enjoys the many aspects of culture and traditions different from his own. Stephen continues his search for writing inspiration, boldly enjoying life to the fullest.