10 Best Websites to Find ESL Videos for Beginners and Beyond
Videos have the power to turn your students’ learning environment on its head, awakening them with captivating material on screens big and small.
There’s a wide variety of online video platforms tailored to the needs of ESL teachers and students, so finding the perfect video for your next video lesson should be a cinch.
As an ESL teacher for many years, I’ve put together 10 of the best sources of ESL videos for all levels which will liven up your classroom.
- 1. ESL Video: Best for Quiz-based Lessons
- 2. YouTube: Best for Content Variety
- 3. FluentU: Best for Authentic Content
- 4. VOA Learning English: Best for Real-life Topics
- 5. engVid: Best for English Learning Topics
- 6. TED-Ed: Best for Specialized Topics
- 7. Annenberg Learner: Best for School Subject Material
- 8. National Geographic Kids: Best for Young Students
- 9. elllo: Best for Short Interactive Lessons
- 10. EnglishCentral: Best for Lesson Type Variety
- How These ESL Video Resources Will Benefit Your Students
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1. ESL Video: Best for Quiz-based Lessons
ESL Video 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 of 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.
2. YouTube: Best for Content Variety
As the biggest online video platform in the world, YouTube hosts an abundance of material formatted specifically for educational purposes or has educational potential.
One important consideration is that the quality of the videos might be variable at best. Because videos aren’t always moderated, some clips that appear to be English-teaching material may turn out to be not so learner-friendly, and you’ll have to check for yourself that the content is both reliable and accurate.
Even if you’re not going to go straight for educational content on YouTube and want to use more entertaining clips, you’ll still have to filter through the vast depths of your searches to find usable videos.
There’s also the fact that YouTube videos don’t always offer learner features. Subtitles and closed captions are nice, but they’re not always 100% correct. You can slow down the video, but the speech becomes warbled and distorted.
For teaching purposes, you can still utilize what YouTube has to offer in terms of entertainment and variety. Even if they lack learner features, YouTube videos have a high chance of eliciting engagement and interest from your students.
3. FluentU: Best for Authentic Content
If you’re looking for a video resource that handles most of the heavy-duty work for you, FluentU is a fantastic choice.
FluentU for English learners creates a special educational experience by utilizing real-world media—the kind of videos and clips native speakers would watch.
Not only does this guarantee your students will be treated to authentic content they’d surely appreciate, but they’ll also be exposed to the English they should expect to encounter in real life.
Furthermore, you can choose from the plethora of available options without worrying about how you can make any of them learner-friendly.
All of FluentU’s videos (which are labeled by learner level and topic) are supplied with interactive subtitles and transcripts, vocabulary lists and context-dependent definitions for words.
There are even short quizzes which you can use as post-viewing reviews. With all these learner features in your control, you can make ESL video learning in the classroom seamless, meaning you can commit the necessary time and effort to the video activities you plan.
4. VOA Learning English: Best for Real-life Topics
While it’s primarily a news website, Voice of America also offers specialized ESL lessons for interested learners. These lessons appear in compilations and there are various options for different levels.
For example, the 52-lesson “Let’s Learn English (Level 1)” beginner’s class helps students learn the fundamentals of the English language and bits of culture. “Everyday Grammar TV” is specialized to teach grammatical concepts.
There are also other amazing collections of videos depending on your teaching needs. You can find series on idioms, pronunciation, English in movies, vocabulary in the news and more. Intermediate and advanced levels also have videos on topics such as history, health, culture and science.
What’s great is you can also use the main page of the Voice of America website as a supplement for higher-level students. You can combine VOA’s coverage of news and cultural topics with English education to make a more engaging and relevant learning experience for students.
5. engVid: Best for English Learning Topics
engVid boasts 1,930 videos (and counting), so there’s no shortage of material here. Their videos cover many aspects of the English language and are easily digestible for learners of all levels.
At first glance, it might seem to be a little overwhelming or hard to navigate the website, since there’s so much content. But it’s well-organized and there are filter options that allow you to choose your topic, level or teacher.
The accessibility of the videos is enhanced by the friendly and casual nature of the instructors themselves, who often try to talk about the topics in a current and up-to-date way so the information stays relevant.
There are videos tailored for more specific topics and learning needs, such as test prep for standardized English exams, tips for interviews and even a brief overview of some accents.
There’s even a bit of a community engagement aspect here. If you’d like students to use the resource for their personal use, they have the option to create an account and post comments and questions for the instructors beneath the videos.
The videos are usually set in a classroom. This, plus the variety of topics that engVid covers, can offer a lot of opportunities for you to further explain different concepts in ways that encourage interaction among your students.
6. TED-Ed: Best for Specialized Topics
With TED-Ed, finding engaging educational videos is a piece of cake. The website is filled with educational videos arranged by subject, making it easier for you to find the most relevant video to your curriculum.
It’s not designed for language learners specifically but with students in mind. Because of this, it might be a good supplementary option if you’re covering a specific topic in class.
Videos are organized by collections and subjects. There’s a function that allows you to filter the videos by subject, content type, video length and grade level (or age level), so you can find videos appropriate for your students.
There are even collaborations with other organizations to bring extra content for in-depth explorations of particular topics such as character education, economics and climate change.
This resource works best when your students understand native English speakers relatively easily. If necessary, there are subtitles that come with most of the videos, which will make it easier for less proficient students to follow along in English and many other languages.
7. Annenberg Learner: Best for School Subject Material
The Annenberg Learner is the education division of the Annenberg Foundation, a philanthropic organization. Part of its mission is to advance excellent American education.
This option serves both as professional development for teachers and as a classroom resource. The professional development part is a bit more established and there’s even a podcast for educators.
Because of this, some of the classroom resources are a bit limited, but it greatly depends on the subject—so you might need to do a bit of sifting to find the video materials.
The resources here are made with native-speaking students in mind, so if you’re teaching students about challenging grammar concepts or how to use context clues to build their vocabularies, this site is perfect for you.
8. National Geographic Kids: Best for Young Students
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.
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 the focus on the newly presented material.
Types of video segments include but are not limited to: Animals 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.
9. elllo: Best for Short Interactive Lessons
elllo has a wealth of ESL materials to draw from, one of the best features being their video resources. Each 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?”
The videos come 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 or any other category. All videos are numbered, so you have to browse the 1,500+ 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 around a minute long makes them useful for specific purposes, and the candid real-world responses will help your learners comprehend native speaking speeds.
10. EnglishCentral: Best for Lesson Type Variety
EnglishCentral allows you to 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).
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.
If students have a paid account, the next step is to 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 57 US dollars per month but can be as low as 29.3 US dollars a month if you purchase a full year’s subscription.
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.
Once you dive into these resources, you’ll have an endless supply of video material for your classes. Get ready to watch your students improve their English by leaps and bounds.