6 Best Places Online to Find ESL Videos for Beginners and Beyond
There’s never been a better time to use video in the ESL classroom.
Video is all around us and the English teacher’s best friend–the internet–has tremendous resources available.
But where should you look for the best material?
As an ESL teachers myself for many years, I’ve chosen 6 of the best sources of ESL videos for all levels which will liven up your classroom.
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Where to Find ESL Videos Online
1. Best for Content Variety: YouTube
Summary: YouTube has a great variety of material and an abundance of engaging content, but there are limited learner features and quality can be hit or miss.
Being the biggest online video platform in the world, YouTube unsurprisingly hosts an abundance of material that has either been formatted specifically for educational purposes or has the potential to be educational.
A factor to consider is that quality might be a bit more questionable. Because videos are not always moderated, some clips titled 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 personally filter through the vast depths of your searches to find usable videos.
There’s also the issue 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 your 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 at eliciting engagement and interest from your students.
2. Best for Authentic Content: FluentU
Summary: FluentU has tons of available learner features, such as interactive subtitles and quizzes, and uses authentic video clips for exposure to English as it is used in real life.
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 created by utilizing real-world media—that is, the kind of videos and clips that native speakers would watch.
This guarantees not only that your students will be treated to authentic content that they’d surely appreciate, but they’ll also be exposed to the English that 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, which means you can commit the necessary time and effort to the video activities you plan.
3. Best for Real-life Topics: VOA Learning English
Summary: VOA Learning English is a great option for a variety of real-life topics which are divided into levels, plus additional videos on language learning topics.
While it is a news website, Voice of America actually 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. There are series on idioms, pronunciation, English in movies, vocabulary in the news and more. Intermediate and advanced levels also have videos on various topics such as history, health, culture and science.
What’s great is that 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 a wide variety of news and cultural topics with English education to make a more engaging and relevant learning experience for students.
4. Best for English Learning Topics: engVid
Summary: engVid features a huge amount of videos with language instructors in a classroom setting that are easily navigated by topic, level or teacher.
This resource boasts over 1,850 videos, so there’s no shortage of material here! The videos of engVid 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 speak about the topics in a current and up-to-date way so that the information is 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 own 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, perhaps in ways that encourage interaction among your students.
5. Best for Specialized Topics: TED-Ed
Summary: TED-Ed offers interesting educational videos which are divided by subject and is a great supplementary option for classes with higher-level students.
With TED-Ed, finding engaging educational videos is a piece of cake. The website is filled with a number of 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 it is designed with students in mind. Because of this, it might be a good supplementary option if you are covering a specific topic in class.
Videos are organized by collections and subjects. There is a function that allows you to filter the videos by subject, content type, video length and grade-level (or age-level), so that 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 needed though, there are subtitles that come with most of the videos which will make it easier for less proficient students to follow along in English as well as in numerous other languages.
6. Best for School Subject Material: Annenberg Learner
Summary: More of a resource for professional development for teachers, the Annenberg Learner has good videos for science, history and language subjects.
The Annenberg Learner is the education division of the Annenberg Foundation, a philanthropic organization. The education part of it has the mission 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 is 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 again 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.
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.