This post, I’m joined by none other than Jamie Keddie. Jamie is the award-winning creator of Teflclips.com. We have coincided at many events, and I always bug him for a list of six youtube videos. Finally, he has delivered! And what a great multimedia list, complete with embedded videos and all. Enjoy!
Everyone knows that a couch potato is someone who watches too much TV. Well, I am a YouTube potato. My excuse is that I genuinely believe that YouTube is one of the best sources of material the English classroom has ever seen: Viral videos, notorious TV clips, comedy sketches, music videos, art projects, short films, science experiments … the list is endless. Here are 6 of my favourite clips:
1. Dean and the iPhone holder
OK, so this is certainly not the most interesting video to start with, I know. But the reason I like it so much is that it encapsulates the spirit of YouTube better than any other clip I can think of. First of all, we have this multinational corporation represented by the product of the decade – that is the iPhone. Then we have Dean, a likeable ordinary guy, showing us how to make an accessory for it out of a paperclip. This truly is a meeting of David and Goliath and that is often what YouTube is all about – a platform where the common man and the politicians, multinationals, television networks, and other traditionally established players meet in a democratic and unpredictable way. Luckily for Apple Inc., Dean’s viral video (i.e. a clip that becomes popular primarily through digital word of mouth) resulted in a good piece of free publicity for their product. But things don’t always go that way – just be glad I didn’t choose to start with the clip of the disgruntled Domino’s pizza employee putting bogies on the garlic bread! You’ll have to find that one yourself.
2. Panda sneeze
Ah that’s more like it – a cute animal clip. This is one of the most popular viral videos on YouTube in the ‘pets and animals’ category and I’d have to say that it is my all time favourite. In fact, I used this clip for the basis of my first ever lesson plan on TEFLclips – a ‘What happens next?’ activity. Of course, the problem with the clip now is that there will usually be someone in the class who has already seen it. For this reason, I will be posting an updated version on teflclips very soon.
3. Western spaghetti
When looking for ways of using a clip like this in the language classroom, it’s always worth considering how to exploit the visual narrative. One possibility here would be to write out the ‘plot’ in the form of a recipe. In fact this is the basis of a lesson plan on TEFLclips which makes use of this very video (see it here). ‘Western Spaghetti’ is art in the truest sense of the word and there is no shortage of creative individuals that are using video sharing sites to exhibit their work. As has already been mentioned, part of the attraction of YouTube and other social media is the fact that everyone is equal. So this slick clip by professional animator PES sits alongside DIY pieces such as Boogie Boogie Hedgehog. But is this latter clip art? Well, only time will tell.
4. Motrin advert
What a bombardment of the eyes and ears! This clip is representative of a fashionable advertising technique that has been born primarily through internet video culture. That is, while watching and listening to this clip, the viewer hears the words accompanied by sound effects and simultaneously, sees them in a whole array of diverse graphical representations and orientations. All of this can contribute to a strengthened learner comprehension of the text. This particular advert for a US brand of pain killers found itself on the receiving end of an online uproar from patronised ‘babywearers’ all over the blogosphere. The company was forced to withdraw the campaign and post an apology on its website. The whole story and lesson plan can be seen here.
5. Obama’s Elf
What can I say? An ingenious clip that writes its own lesson plan. How many times have we had students upset that they can’t understand the words to songs in English? Perhaps the key to putting their minds at rest is to introduce them to the world of misheard lyrics, also known as mondegreens. See here for more ideas.
6. PS22 Chorus “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane
Despite all my enthusiasm for YouTube content, I passionately believe that its greatest potential is for teachers to film and upload learner-generated content. These children are singing from the heart and they are going to be able to watch themselves do so for the rest of their lives. Whether we are considering songs, presentations, stories, role plays or fictitious adverts or newsflashes, students can be filmed and the videos can be put online (of course, you will have to get permission from parents and/or students first). If students are happy with the outcomes, they might just revisit their clips from time to time and in doing so revise the language that that was recorded in conjunction with them. This, in turn, may inadvertently extend the learning beyond the classroom – always a good thing!
Jamie Keddie is a teacher and writer currently based in Berlin. He is the author Images, one of the latest titles in the Oxford University Press Resource Books series.