We live in an age of discoveries.
Scientists have built a spaceship that could one day take us to Mars.
New human ancestors are being discovered every day.
And now we even have cars that can drive themselves!
Many people from around the world want to be a part of these amazing discoveries and advancements. If you are one of these people, you might want to look into the basis of these modern advancements: the STEM subjects.
There is just one little problem—many science and technology experts communicate in English.
Do not give up just because of a language barrier! There are many resources for English learners to discover STEM vocabulary and language.
One such resource is online videos.
Lucky for you, there are tons of educational video series online about STEM subjects that you can use to learn the language. We have rounded up 15 of the best series for you here in this post. But first…
What Is STEM?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It generally refers to a curriculum where the main focus is on these subjects. There are entire schools and universities which only teach STEM-related subjects because of its popularity and relevance.
STEM subjects are important for solving the current economic, societal and practical problems of the world. For instance, global warming is one issue where STEM knowledge is applied to study and reduce the problem of climate change. STEM subjects are also very important in creating new technologies like rockets, smartphones, driver-less cars and virtual reality gadgets.
A large number of English learners who want to study abroad or find a job in an international organization often choose to study a subject related to STEM. There are many reasons to do so:
- There are many job opportunities, potential for growth, respect and money in these fields.
- Many governments around the world have special programs and policies in place which encourage young people to get into STEM fields, as the development of any country benefits from them.
- As there are relatively few skilled people compared to the demand for them in these fields, many countries welcome STEM-educated people from other nations.
Learning English for STEM is different than learning everyday English. In addition to clear sentence construction and a solid knowledge of grammar, people in these fields often use more formal and technical vocabulary and place an emphasis on clear communication.
Learners who want to get into STEM fields should focus more on reading and writing than on speaking. They also need to know the specialized vocabulary of their specific area of interest, as this varies widely within the different STEM fields. In addition, learners need to select specific materials for their English practice, related to the topics in their chosen subject of study (like using science and technology resources if they are interested in these fields).
How to Start Learning English for STEM
Ready to make your contribution to the modern world? Here is how to get started learning English for STEM subjects:
- Study familiar concepts in English: It is best if you learn the basic concepts of your subject in your own language first. Once you are familiar with them, then study the same concepts in English so you can focus more on the language rather than on the content.
- Know your prefixes and suffixes: Many words in science follow predictable patterns. For instance, words that end with the suffix “-ology” refer to the scientific study of something. (For example: Zoology is the scientific study of animals.) Knowing these prefixes and suffixes will help you understand new words quickly by figuring out their meaning.
- Practice through hands-on activities: Many scientific and mathematical concepts can be understood through activities. Doing an activity right after learning about a concept helps you gain a better understanding of it. It also helps you remember the overall content better than watching or reading about it. For instance, science experiments are great for understanding concepts from physics and chemistry, and there are plenty of experiments you can do right at home. Likewise, solving a set of math problems immediately after learning a concept also helps you remember what you have learned.
- Get a learning partner: Learning any STEM subject is hard and requires a lot of studying. If you are studying alone, you might not be able to practice your language skills regularly. Getting a learning partner will ensure that you practice conversation skills as well as ease the burden of studying.
- Watch videos: Finally, watching videos about STEM topics is another fantastic way to learn the language. Use video and language-learning services like FluentU to learn more about STEM-specific language.
Videos are especially good learning tools since they are visual and entertaining, and allow you to hear the language in use. Ready to begin learning? Here are some awesome video series for learning STEM-subject English.
15 Awesome Video Series to Study English for STEM
1) Science Up with the Singing Zoologist
Description: Zoology is the scientific study of animals and a person who works in this field is called a zoologist. As the name of the channel makes it clear, this show shares information about animals through songs.
Lucas Miller, the creator of this show, aims to attract viewers to his field with funny songs. His ultimate goal is to make the current generation more aware of the animal world and encourage people to study and save animals from harm.
Since these songs are made for children, they use repetitive and simple words to make their point. That makes them very useful for beginner English learners as they will not only expand their vocabulary, but also get to know more about this scientific field. Beginners will also find it easier to follow the videos since they use animations and other visual aids to make them more engaging.
Recommended Video: “Monarch Q & A”
2) Clarendon Learning: Math Videos for Kids
Description: Clarendon makes entertaining videos for teachers to use in classrooms. Generally, they focus on science, math and history. This playlist contains all their videos related to mathematics.
Claredon’s videos have a clear background narration which makes it easy to understand the words being spoken. They often have visual aids and texts in the video which are meant to help students remember the content better.
This series explores the basics of mathematics, which will be really helpful to those people who were taught math in a different language.
The videos are most useful for beginner English learners who either want to work in the field of mathematics or want to get a job where they will use math a lot. This show helps you get a basic grasp on the language that is used to talk about numbers in English.
Recommended Video: “Introduction to Statistics for Kids”
3) Crash Course Kids: Engineering
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Description: The Crash Course web series are watched by students and experts around the world. Their simple graphics and engaging content make complex topics easy to learn.
In this series, the presenters talk about engineering, which is the science and practice of designing, building and using complex machines, structures and engines. Unlike other Crash Course shows, this series is specifically made for kids. The result is an even simpler language that explores the topic starting with the absolute basics.
Every video begins with an easy-to-understand definition of the main topic. Various animations and stories seek to clarify specific parts of that topic. Finally, each video gives a brief summary of the episode’s main points.
This show is best for learners who have a basic understanding of the English language and want to move to more complex content. Use the show for learning about engineering concepts, improving your listening skills and practicing note-taking.
Recommended Video: “What’s an Engineer?”
4) Anywhere Math
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Description: This channel has an interesting mix of formal and casual English in its videos. Anywhere Math is meant for English students who are studying in grades six, seven and eight. The videos use a tone which is appealing to that age group to talk about complex topics.
Videos usually have one instructor talking about the topic. Each video has distinct parts indicated either by the instructor or through labels. Sometimes you will see snippets of a lesson or a computer screen with examples of the topic being taught.
Along with videos about mathematics, you will also find study tips and techniques. This might be useful both for English language learners and people who are preparing for an academic course.
These videos explain textbook definitions in plain English. As a result, they are great for beginner to intermediate learners who have difficulty understanding the language of English textbooks. The videos are also good for observing body language and English listening and speaking since, unlike most of the other series on this list, the instructor is shown speaking in the video.
Recommended Video: “Introduction to Statistics”
5) Crash Course Kids: Physical Science
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Description: This is another series from Crash Course Kids which teaches the basic concepts of physics (the scientific study of matter and energy).
The videos have a casual tone with many additional notes like definitions and extra facts about the topic. They also include useful labels in the top left corner of the screen that inform you of definitions, questions, examples or conclusions.
Whenever you see text on the screen while the narrator is speaking, pause the video and take some time to read it. It often provides important information and uses a more advanced, textbook-level language.
Since each episode in only about 4 minutes long, you can watch every video more than once to understand the content better. It is also a good idea to keep a notebook with you while you watch so you can write down any important words or facts you notice.
Recommended Video: “Wood, Water and Properties”
6) Gross Science
Description: When we think about nature we often imagine beautiful things. But scientists who actually work with living things know very well how disgusting the natural world can be.
This show tries to capture the interesting parts about the things we find gross or disturbing. The videos usually relate to biology and can be quite educational and entertaining.
Hosted by Anna Rothschild, each episode is around three to five minutes long with various clips related to the topic combined with background narration. The series is meant for a general audience but also includes specific terminology related to biology and the topic being discussed.
Recommended Video: “Should You Really Wash Your Hands?”
7) It’s Okay to Be Smart
Description: This channel discusses pretty much everything related to STEM. If you have ever been curious about anything in the universe, chances are that they have made a video about it.
There are playlists for animals, humans, earth, climate, physics, space and even food! With over 500 videos, no matter which subject you are interested in, this channel will have something for you.
Every episode starts with a question which is then answered in detail. In just under 7 minutes, it packs in plenty of information about the cause and effect of anything relevant.
The host, Joe Hanson, has a PhD and is great at simplifying complex topics. Intermediate learners will benefit most from this channel as the show does not use too many technical words. There are also lots of visuals which are helpful without being distracting.
Recommended Video: “How Much Plastic Is in the Ocean?”
8) Physics Girl
Description: Did you ever try to make a volcano in your room? Or do you dream of conducting a crazy science experiment in your own backyard?
If so, then this channel is your guidebook. Science Girl is hosted by Dianna Cowern, who teaches physics through strange experiments. On her show she also interviews experts, collaborates with other people interested in science and talks about space and the universe.
The host uses informal American English and explains complex concepts by directly applying them. Her show is also useful for practicing conversations thanks to her many interviews.
Recommended Video: “Are Perpetual Motion Machines Possible?”
9) The Brain Scoop
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Description: This channel is hosted by Emily Graslie from the Field Museum of Chicago. Her show is all about sharing insightful information and collections from natural history museums in America. (A natural history museum stores and displays samples of animal bodies and parts from all over the world.)
This show mostly deals with biology but also talks a little bit about scientific methods and techniques used in these museums. If you are specifically interested in museums, this channel can teach you a lot about the actual work scientists do in these places.
The show explores topics in depth and the language does often get technical. However, they try to keep things as simple as possible. This is a great show for learning more about biology topics, especially preservation and decay. It is also great for conversation listening practice.
Recommended Video: “GLOW ROCKS”
10) Nat and Friends
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Description: Nat and Friends focuses exclusively on everyday technology and how it works. The videos usually look at software rather than hardware and many are related to Google since the hosts know people inside the company.
The videos cover topics like the internet, how apps work, how machine learning is developing and much more. There is a focus on the latest technology rather than the history of technology.
This show is very useful for people who want to work in IT (Information Technology), where many people from non-English backgrounds are often hired. It will introduce learners to the kind of English used in technology companies. As you might expect, the show uses a lot of technology vocabulary and is not recommended for beginners.
Recommended Video: “How Can Light, Plus Glass, Equal the Internet?”
11) PBS Eons
Description: This show has a huge goal: to tell the story of life. In each episode the hosts Hank Green, Kallie Moore and Blake de Pastino talk about a bit of evolutionary history which science has uncovered.
If you have ever wondered, for instance, how dinosaurs lived when whey existed, this show will provide the answer. Using current discoveries, the three hosts give an idea of how life was millions of years ago by dividing these discoveries into historical periods.
This show is obviously useful for anyone interested in evolution, especially paleontologists. It also talks a lot about geology, which is the study of rocks and the physical structure of Earth.
Recommended Video: “The Last Time the Globe Warmed”
Description: Computerphile is unlike all the other technology channels we have listed in this article. The show does not cater to the general crowd at all. Instead, each episode features a very technical topic and experts are invited to talk about it in depth.
The show focuses on the math used in computers and coding, as well as coding concepts and the history of technology. It also explains how certain technologies like Wi-Fi or Mac computers work. You can also find information about digital security and hacking, like how to store your password and how hackers get into computers.
This show is useful for those learners who have a basic knowledge of computers, but an advanced level of the English language is recommended.
Recommended Video: “‘Code’ Books”
13) Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell
Description: We live in a complex world. Most of the time, though, we do not notice it because we are too busy in our daily lives. This channel seeks to explain the complexity of our existence and our universe one video at a time.
The show is famous around the internet for its remarkable animation and its clear and crisp background narration. There are two versions of the show, one in English and another in German, so German-speaking learners can use this to their advantage and watch both versions.
In the past they have dealt with big topics like human origins, aliens, the size of the universe, artificial intelligence and aging.
It is a must-watch channel for all STEM enthusiasts, although you need advanced English skills to understand their content. But it is definitely worth the effort.
Recommended Video: “Space Elevator”
Description: This show’s name comes from the Latin word “veritas” which means truth. Veritasium roughly means “the element of truth.”
Created by Derek Muller, the channel focuses on the questions of physics and engineering, although sometimes it also publishes videos about life sciences.
Muller loves to show rather than explain the concepts of physics. He does this through innovative experiments and experiences. In the middle of each episode he introduces the facts behind a particular event and uses background narration to explain it. The rest of the time he records himself doing the experiment or playing with a gadget.
Learners will find the show very entertaining, as most of his experiments are shocking and unusual. He also interviews expert scientists to learn more about each topic.
Learners who are interested in advanced physics will benefit a lot from this channel.
Recommended Video: “Your Amazing Molecular Machines”
15) National Geographic: Outer Space
Description: National Geographic has been educating the general population about science for generations. Their recent expansion into the online space has made it easier for millions of people to enjoy interesting and educational content at the click of a button.
This series on their YouTube channel features interviews with scientists and astronauts about various topics relating to space. They answer curious questions like whether we can live on Mars, how astronauts go to the toilet in space and what it takes to become an astronaut.
This channel focuses on the life and challenges of the people involved in STEM fields and takes a more human perspective on topics related to space. Instead of simply learning facts, this series will teach learners more about the practical problems you might face when you work in STEM.
These videos are great for conversation practice since some contain informal interviews along with the more technical ones. They are good learning resources for both general English practice and for practicing English for STEM subjects.
Recommended Video: “The Future of Satellites”
So buckle up and get ready for many scientific journeys!
Can’t Get Enough English for STEM Videos?
Hop on FluentU to start exploring hundreds of real English science and technology videos with helpful, personalized learning features.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Dhritiman Ray is a writer of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. He specializes in topics like education, psychology and lifestyle. To know more click here.
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