Using YouTube for Vocabulary Development

YouTube now contains an enormous amount of material, some of which is highly exploitable in the classroom. One such category of videos are promotional videos. These have the advantage that they are professionally produced, and therefore the visual and sound quality is good, but you’re less likely to run into copyright problems. They’re on YouTube because the makers want people to publicise them – it’s known as viral marketing.

This lesson is based around two promotional videos – one on Australia, and the other on Newquay in Cornwall. It is aimed at mid intermediate level or above and aims to extend students knowledge of the language of tourism. It would be suitable for an ESP class of tourist operators, but could also be used with a general purpose class.You can find the videos at :
Australia Holiday Guide and Newquay An Introduction

1. Warm Up - Activation of Language and Schemata

a. Divide students into pairs or groups. Allocate each pair or group a category of sports – water sports, athletics, mountain sports, equestrian sports etc – depending on their interests. Have pictures ready to give the students to push them on to less obvious sports if they dry up. Sports might include :

Water sports – swimming, diving, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, water polo, synchronised swimming, sailing, powerboat racing, water skiing
Athletics –sprints, middle distance and long distance running hurdling, shot put, javelin, hammer throw, discus throw, high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, steeplechase, relays, road running (including the marathon).
Equestrian – dressage, show jumping, eventing, carriage driving, endurance riding, steeplechasing, flat racing , harness racing, showing

NB. The real focus is on water sports. The others are included as a “distractor” so that this stage is not too much of a “giveaway” for stage c.

b. Ask Ss to tell each other if they’ve ever been to Australia. If so, when, how long for, did they like it, what did they see etc. If not, would they like to go, where exactly, what would they like to see. Group or pair discussion, followed by full-class content and language follow-up.

c. Tell students that they are responsible for creating a two-minute promotional video of Australia. What would they show on the video, and what image of Australia would they try and create? Group or pair discussion, followed by T-class content and language follow-up.

2. Viewing

a. First Viewing : Ss watch the video and compare what it shows and the image of Australia created with their predictions. With lower level students, this first viewing might be done with the sound turned off, in order that the high percentage of text which they won’t understand doesn’t distract them. In any case, tell students not to worry if they don’t understand everything, they can make the comparison just by viewing the images. T-Class follow up.

b. Second Viewing : Ask Ss to watch and listen again. Set gist comprehension questions -

- What sports are mentioned by the speaker (not shown in the images) ?
- Can you go surfing if you’ve never tried before?
- Why might you need your walking boots on an Australian holiday?

c. Third Viewing : What you do next may differ depending on the level of the students. Here are some options :

Intermediate students : Give out the complete transcript with any expressions you predict will be a problem underlined and a scrambled glossary below (as in the worksheet illustrated). Ask students to listen again to the video, following the text, and then to match the underlined expressions with their meanings.

Text : If it’s action and adventure you’re after, then a holiday to Australia will be just up your street. But don’t take my word for it—take a look for yourself. The waves are massive off the coast of Australia, making surfing the nation’s favourite pastime. If you’ve never tried it before, don’t worry — most resorts offer courses for beginners. Diving is immensely popular here too. With the Great Barrier Reef stretching all the way down Queensland’s coast, it’s the perfect place for an underwater adventure. If you’d rather stay above sea level, then try a sailing tour around the Whit Sunday Islands, home of the famous Whitehaven Beach. This is an experience not to be missed.

There’s loads to do on dry land too. The thrill of four-wheel driving across the dunes of Frazer Island or the barren outback is unforgettable. And for the view of a lifetime, get your walking boots on for the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.

And if you need a drink to calm your nerves after all that excitement, head to any of Australia’s city centres for an action-packed evening.

Wherever you see Australia from, it’s a breathtaking experience.

Scrambled glossary : a lot / you want / you would prefer to / Australian countryside / port / go / exciting / excitement / exactly right for you / extending / leisure activity / don’t believe me / infertile / holiday town

Upper Intermediate + : Give out a gapped transcript of the text. Ask students first to predict the missing words, and then to listen in order to confirm or complete their answers.


3. Language Focus

a. Point out that this is a promotional video, and that therefore the text uses words and expressions with a superlative meaning or which create an emotional impact. Ask students to identify the first of these (action and adventure) and then to highlight any others (adventure, massive, favourite, immensely popular, the perfect place, adventure, an experience not to be missed, loads to do, thrill, barren, unforgettable, the view of a lifetime, excitement, action-packed, a breathtaking experience.) T-class follow-up - list the vocabulary on the board.

b. Show students the following web pages on
London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Dublin and ask them to identify similar expressions – they may need to use dictionaries while they do so. Follow up : add the expressions to the board list.

c. Explain to students where Newquay is and what sort of place it is. Give out the gapped text, explain that it’s from a promotional video for tourism in Newquay, and ask them, in pairs to decide on a suitable word for each space.

Text : Welcome to the Newquay CD Rom where you can discover all that this ………………… on the Cornish coast has to offer. Whether it’s trying one of the many ……………………… water sports, experiencing the ………………………… countryside, relaxing on the seven miles of …………………… sands and …………………………… beaches, or simply enjoying the ………………………… array of facilities, it’s …………………… to see why Newquay has become the ……………………… destination for a family holiday.

d. T-class follow up : Elicit the students’ suggestions and eliminate any
that are not grammatically or collocationally possible. Then play the video so that they can identify which words were actually used.


4. Application

a. Ask students, in pairs or groups, to decide the content (not, at the moment the text) for a two-minute promotional video on their home town or the town in which they are currently studying. They should decide what image they want to project of the town, and what they want to show in the video. T-class follow up : elicit ideas, and give language feedback as necessary.

b. Students write the text for the video. This stage can be done individually or collaboratively.

If time on the course allows, and if digital cameras are available, this could of course be turned into a real project, with the students making the film and recording it.



Further Reading


For more ideas on how to use YouTube, click here ....


and for ideas on the Internet in the EFL classroom in general ...