If you’ve been studying English for a long time, you’ve probably tried lots of different ways of learning the language at home. Our students are always looking for new ways to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills – and one of the best places to do this is on YouTube.
YouTube is not just a place to watch videos. With more than 1 billion people watching 1 billion hours of video every day, there is a lot to explore, learn and try out. You can take cooking classes, learn about history, sing along to song lyrics, interact with video creators in comments, plans trips to other countries, and even make your own movies!
So here are 5 interesting ways you can improve your English skills using YouTube.
If you want to improve your listening and you are a little worried about understanding accents, it’s a good idea to find short videos that include closed captions (subtitles).
This screenshot below shows the bottom of a video that has Closed Captions. Simply click the “CC” button to read the subtitles. If you can’t see the “CC” button it means that there are no subtitles on the video you have chosen.
How to videos are a good place to start if you want to improve your listening comprehension. These are videos that show you how to do something, step by step. How to videos are easy to follow because you can see what people are doing, even if you don’t understand all the language at first. You can watch videos on almost any subject – anything from how to tune a guitar to how to dye your hair.
Here’s an example for you – how to bake a cake:
First, choose a short video (hopefully one that interests you) of up to 5 minutes long. Watch it all the way through without closed captions.
Next, write a summary of the video in English, including all the steps you remember. Don’t worry if you miss things out.
Then watch the video again. This time listen more carefully, pause the video when you need to, and try to write every word you hear, like a transcript. Keep watching the video.
Finally, turn on the closed captions and compare your script with the words on the screen. Make any corrections you need and underline any new vocabulary, which you can look up in the dictionary.
You can use YouTube to find lots of English Speakers with different accents.The more you listen to different accents, the easier it will be for you to understand them. Remember, if you find it difficult to understand people at first, choose videos with closed captions.
There are millions of videos on YouTube – so you are bound to find something that interests you. If you want to practise specific accents, here are some ideas:
There are thousands of good short films on YouTube. One way of practising your writing is to watch a film and then challenge yourself to write a short film review.
First, search for a short film. YouTube channels like Future Shorts have some interesting and worthwhile movies – like this one:
Find one that you like and watch it all the way through. Afterwards, write a summary of the story, including your ideas and opinions.
Next, go to Rottentomatoes.com and look at the film reviews and find some new vocabulary and phrases. You might have to use an online dictionary, a useful website like Linguee, or ask your teacher for help.
Finally write a short review of the film you watched. Show your teacher and ask for feedback – and then keep practising, it’s the only way to get better!
Another fun and interesting way of learning new vocabulary and expressions, improving your listening and pronunciation is to watching YouTube music videos, especially those with karaoke lyrics.
In this video you can sing along with Ed Sheeran:
If you want to do more than just practise your pronunciation, Google the lyrics for the song you have chosen – then you can use a dictionary to study and learn the new vocabulary you came across.
Of course, you can find thousands of other music videos on YouTube to suit your taste.
Making your own YouTube video is both fun and educational – and the good news is that anyone can do it! When you first sit down to film a video it can be quite daunting – but we recommend talking about your passions. When you do this, you will be more interested and will find it easier to research your topic online. Here are some ideas for what you could talk about – but remember you can do anything:
Here are seven great tips for filming yourself.
Do you have any other ideas for learning English on YouTube? Let us know what you come up with!
Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.
Closed captions/subtitles (n): words at the bottom of a film or television programme used to translate a language or for people who can’t hear.
Tune (v): to prepare a musical instrument so it sounds good before playing it.
Dye (v): to change the colour of something (to dye your clothes, to dye your hair).
Pause (v): to stop doing something quickly.
Transcript (n): an exact, written version of what someone said.
Script (n): the words and directions people need to learn for a film, play, or report, etc.
Be bound to (v): very probable something is going to happen.
Clips (n): short sections of a film, song, or book.
Lyrics (n): the words to a song.
Suit (your) taste (exp): something you like.
Come up with (pv): to think of or invent.
n = noun
v = verb
exp = expression
pv = phrasal verb