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Supercuts

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Supercuts are videos that include a lot of clips along a theme, usually with little or no other editing. They can be as simple as Spock saying “Fascinating”/the Ninth Doctor Who saying “Fantastic” or as complex as things crashing through glass from countless films and TV shows/a compilation of anime opening credit visual cliches. It occurred to me, though, that ones focused on dialogue might be useful–or at least fun–for practicing pronunciation features (targeted sounds, intonation, and stress), sarcasm and other tone issues, idioms/slang/other vocabulary, and so on. The language is in short bites (mostly) and repetitive, which may be useful for learning. And of course, the videos have the appeal of being either pop culture artifacts or featuring real people–authentic and attractive to students. It can be hard to find these videos; there are a few lists here and there, but they may be a bit out of date.

This is a pretty fun look at the surprisingly common quote “(Toto,) we’re not in Kansas anymore.”:

It’s pretty current, with lots of things that adult students may have seen (like Sex and the City 2 and Avatar). It has a couple of possibly objectionable scenes, though (mild swearing and what may be a sex scene–it’s a little hard to tell, as it’s waist-up and there’s no nudity). But you can always show just part of a video. It really shows the breadth of the situations in which this phrase is used, and how phrases get turned around and changed. (Notes and sources are here.)

“What are you doing here?” and endless variations, always popping up on Doctor Who (skip if you haven’t watched through the end of 2008 and plan to):

I probably wouldn’t actually use this video unless my students had watched Doctor Who (I know some schools have it in their libraries, though!). It does give an idea of the many ways you can stress the different words in “What are you doing here?” for different meanings, though!

Not very useful, but entertaining–”I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you”:

For those of you who don’t hesitate to teach taboo words, this and its variants really are common:

How many ways can you say “What?” How often is it actually a rising sound? When is it a question, a request for repetition, an expression of disbelief? Let Lost tell you:

“Get out of there!” is a phrase that we use in real life occasionally, not just in movies:

The second half or so has some swearing.

“Sorry I haven’t updated” features ordinary vloggers (video bloggers) of various ages, starting off their vlogs with an apology:

It’s really interesting how different they appear to be, and yet how similar their phrasing is!

There are more out there, and you could probably make some yourself to focus on issues your students have. What other uses might there be, or is this a totally crazy idea…?

Post-Holiday Link Roundup

I wasn’t able to post here during the holidays, but I was somewhat active on Twitter. Here are a few links that I shared that may be of interest to you, rewritten a bit for context and easier clicking.

Twelve Days of Christmas: TeacherTube, Vimeo, and more

Everyone knows about Youtube and quite a few teachers use it, but there are a few more resources that are slightly less well-known and can liven up lesson points or bring more English input to an EFL teaching situation.


Many teachers already know about TeacherTube, but not everyone does. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already seen it! Unfortunately, their search and tagging system is lacking and their categories are not very useful–there’s no ESL/EFL/etc. category, so it’s difficult to find good material here. I suspect it exists, but it’s difficult to find. If you have any hints on how to find it, let me know. Videos can be downloaded once you find something you like, which isn’t easy to do at YouTube. Apparently it plays ads before videos, but I haven’t seen any because the version of Adblock Pro that I’m running on Firefox keeps them from showing. A free membership will also allow you to skip the ads.

Vimeo.com is an original video-oriented site, and it was high-quality-oriented before Youtube allowed HD uploads. I think it allows longer videos, as well. Many Vimeo videos can be downloaded as Flash or .avi files without going to the special lengths required to download Youtube videos. There’s no particular orientation toward educational videos here, but there is TESOL content to be found, including the ESL Channel. In addition, among the serious videographers’ work you may find something inspiring for your class anyway, or something to watch to relax. (Check out this Japanese festival video, or this time-lapse video.) The above video of my part of the world (which I advise clicking through and watching in HD if you have the bandwidth) is beautiful and relaxing, but could also be a fun change-of-pace exercise, prompting students to write down as many adjectives as possible (fast! wet! furry! lonely!), etc. As a bonus, the comments at Vimeo are often less of a Wild West than the comments at Youtube. There are limitations on free uploads if you want to make videos and put them online, but I don’t know much about that, I’m afraid.

Veoh.com is another general Youtube-like site, but it’s even more of a free-for-all than Youtube, if that’s possible, and I only recommend it if you are looking for a clip that you absolutely must have. (For example, bilingual Begin Japanology clips can be found there–English in one audio channel, Japanese in the other audio channel.) I don’t think an original teaching video is likely to be found solely on Veoh and not on Youtube, TeacherTube, or Vimeo, but if that’s not the case, please correct me!

Manythings.org’s video section collects English-teaching videos from Youtube. These are mostly instructional videos on specific points, aimed at independent learners, but some are more useful for classrooms. These include singalongs, videos with transcripts and subtitles, and so on. ESLVideo.com may give you some ideas on how to use Youtube in your classroom–they have Youtube videos (music, interviews, etc.) posted with quizzes. The quizzes are mostly simplistic, good for either checking word-by-word listening comprehension or surface-level grammar features, but they could give you ideas about how to use non-TESOL-focused videos in an ELL classroom.

If you’re looking for lesson material on these sites, don’t forget to a) play the “alphabet game” and search for ESL, EFL, ELT, and TESOL, and also b) try some things that aren’t in the TESOL genre, like how-tos, very simple food or drink preparation videos, travel videos, music videos, film clips, etc. I created a pretty good lesson out of some footage aimed at pharmacy school students once, too, for a student who was going back to Japan to be a pharmacist. Don’t hesitate to search for very specific themes such as “pharmacy” or “fast food.”

As mentioned in this thread on using videos in the classroom, it’s best to turn off “related videos” and preview the videos before putting them up on a projector, just to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises!