Since its creation on February 14, 2005, Youtube really changed the way we live. If we look back at the way we were listening to our favorite music 10 years ago, we realize that the change is radical. This video-sharing website has invaded the music industry and it begins to invade our classroom because Youtube has multiple benefits for students if the teacher knows how to use it smartly. Anybody who has access to internet can go on Youtube and watch videos from anyone in the world (which results in a high number of bad videos I agree), but also from broadcast networks such as CBC, Discovery channel or ABC that have their own Youtube channel that shares very interesting videos.
As an English teacher, you have to teach grammar, punctuation and writing techniques, but you also have to teach the culture behind the language. Youtube can be a way to reinvest material that was seen in class. Amy Palko, a teacher who is specialised in American literature, said about how she teaches with Youtube that she found clips “particularly helpful when teaching the 20th-century American short story, as many of the narratives the course focussed on dealt with historic events for which there exists a wealth of material. For example, filming that depicts the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement is available on YouTube, thus allowing students to attain a much deeper understanding of many of the themes recurrent throughout the short fiction”. Some students can’t truly understand something without seeing it. Following the “Programme de formation de l’école québecoise”, it is the responsibility of the school to adapt the formation to the capacities, the talent and the interests of every student. For example, if I ask them to read a book about the feminist literature, I need to be able to provide other material than only a book to help students who don’t understand very clearly. Youtube can really help me to do that because I could use videos about it, so they could see exactly what it looked like.
As a future teacher, I want my students to become good english speakers, but also active citizens. I can already see myself beginning a class with a very popular video by Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga in which we could see the lyrics and try to analyze them. This could lead to a debate about the pertinence of saying that kind of things. We could talk about the pressure of the society on the ladies, the relationship between man and woman, etc. It could also lead to politic debates like Amjad Ali, who teaches citizenship and law at The Bulmershe School in reading, does. He says that he simply displays “some newspaper headlines with a keyword/sentence missing. I may play a YouTube clip, or even wear/hold/present a prop. I then ask students to think, pair, square and then share what they think the stimulus is about. This is an immediate way to get students talking and discussing politics“. We want our students to talk, but can’t they please talk about serious topics?
There is also the fact that Youtube can be used as a way that children practice their English. For example, 1st graders learn a lot by singing songs about various topics, so you could post on the portal of your school, the Youtube videos of the songs they have to practice. It will allow the parents to practice those songs and those vocabulary words with their children at home (songs such as Brown Bear, Sally the Camel or From Head to Toe). In my practicum 1, this is exactly what the teacher does and it works pretty well. They also post on Youtube (with a link to their portal), activities that they did at school.
Finally, as a teacher, it is hard to make quizzes and tests fun and interactive, so that’s why Youtube created a tool for that. It is called “spotlight” which will make a video that you created fully interactive. For example, if I create a video about the rule of the 3rd person singular, I make it interactive by doing a quiz in which I ask them to complete some sentences. If they pick the right answer, you can add a funny picture or a link to a videoclip of a song like “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang to congratulate them (reinforcement), but if the student is not right you show him the right answer and a link to a Youtube video that will show him the rule of the 3rd person singular (there are a lot of videos about it). From a future teacher perspective, this tool from Youtube is truly great because every student will learn at their own rhythm because they receive a personalized answer. I don’t think that, one day, students will be excited about doing an exercise about grammar, but, at least, it will be less painful. There is a link to a website that will show you how to make interactive lessons with Youtube.
As you see, Youtube is a valuable tool in the classroom, but you have to use it wisely and you have to be allowed the access to this video-sharing website because multiple schools block it.