Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

“Simon’s Cat” Videos Are Perfect For English Language Learners

'simon's cat' photo (c) 2009, frolleinbombus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of using short video clips with English Language Learners as a language-development activity (you can read more at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them) ).

One of my favorite instructional strategies is called “Back To The Screen,” which I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example. I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

I’ve been a longtime fan of “Simon’s Cat” videos but, due to a brain freeze or something like that, I had never thought about how great they would be to use with ELLs — their short, funny, engaging, and don’t require knowing English to enjoy them.

If you’re one of the few people on earth who haven’t seen them :), here’s an example. The video I have embedded is also set to play all of them, if you’re so inclined (you can also go to its YouTube channel):

November 17, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Fun, Moving Video That ELL’s Could Watch & Describe

Here’s how the creators of this video describe it:

Even on the days when a patient gets a depressing diagnosis or things seem to be going wrong, people at Cincinnati Children’s have a way of believing in the power of a smile to help make things OK. This is what happened when doctors, nurses, patients and staff from Cincinnati Children’s got together to put our own spin on rapper Flo Rida’s hit “Good Feeling.”

This could be used in class using the “back to the screen” method. Singing the chorus could be fun, too!

June 19, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

How Students Evaluated Me This Year — Part Two (Intermediate English Class)

Yesterday, I shared how my mainstream ninth-grade English class evaluated me in their anonymous assessments. Today, it’s time to share what my Intermediate English students had to say.

Here’s a downloadable version of the form I have students complete. There’s also a version of it in my book on teaching English Language Learners.

Here’s what they said:

FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES: Working in the computer lab, going on field trips, and playing learning games were all basically tied at the top, which is very similar to last year’s ratings.

LEAST FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES: The three least-liked activities were reading at home, doing homework, and watching videos (we do it by using an activity called Back to the Screen that practices listening, speaking, and writing skills). Again, this is similar to last year — with one important exception. Writing essays was ranked low last year, but this year — while it wasn’t at the very top — it was near there. I think that speaks to a lot of the work my colleague, Katie Hull, and I put into crafting some very stimulating and engaging writing activities. She and I are also beginning to write a book together on teaching writing to English Language Learners.

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE MOST: Students ranked practically all of the activities equally highly. As they did last year, it was interesting to note that the activities they ranked as liking least — reading at home, doing homework, and watching videos — were ranked at or near the top of ones where they felt they had learned the most. Writing essays was tied at the top, too.

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE LEAST: For all practical purposes, students didn’t rank any activity low.

RATING MR. FERLAZZO AS A TEACHER:

I was ranked the highest for being friendly, getting to know students, being organized and prepared and working hard.

As they said last year, a small number said I should maintain better class discipline and that I talk too much.

All but three would be very happy if they had me as a teacher again.

PACE OF THE CLASS: Three-fourths of the students said the pace was “just right.” However, one-fourth said it was “too slow.” This was generally a higher-level Intermediate English class than I’ve had before, and this feedback suggests that I could have worked more on differentiating instruction for some of the more advanced students.

OTHER: Most of the class also added they had wished we had worked more on speaking English. Last year’s class said the same thing, and I had vowed to make that a higher priority. I had thought I had but, obviously, I need to rethink it again.

MY REFLECTIONS:

I feel pretty good about how this class went but, as I’ve mentioned already, I think I need to think more carefully about differentiating instruction for some of the more advanced learners (who might not be ready to move quite yet to our advanced ELL class) and about bringing in more speaking opportunities. I suspect my focus on refining how to teach writing distracted me from my vow to do more speaking. Now that Katie and I have a better handle on the craft of teaching writing, I think we’ll be able to be more intentional about incorporating speaking into our curriculum. Katie and I will be co-teaching the class next year.

Any feedback is welcome.

My third post in this series will be sharing how students in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class evaluated me. I used a little bit of a different process with them…

For more information on how I incorporate student evaluations in my teaching, you might be interested in reading “My Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)”

May 20, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments

As regular readers know, I use music a lot in teaching English Language Learners. In addition to what I’ll share in this “The Best…” list, you can read about more ways in these other lists:

The Best Music Websites For Learning English
The Best Online Sites For Creating Music
The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners
Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Music Sites
The Best Places To Get Royalty-Free Music & Sound Effects
The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web

The primary purpose of this list is to share resources and ideas on having students make simple musical instruments in class. They’re great opportunities for students to listen to instructions, speak with other students to create musical compositions with the instruments they make, and write and discuss the steps they took to make them. You can also easily fit in a little science if you want. Plus, it’s always a lot of fun!

In addition to actual instrument-making, I also usually include watching some video clips from the delightful Stomp musical. Watching these clips prior to making instruments functions as a great introduction, and I incorporate speaking, listening, and writing practice by watching them using the “Back To The Screen” process (you can learn how to use that video-viewing process by reading The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL).

I’ll be including a few links on this list to Stomp clips.

As part of his lesson, I also have students bring in traditional instruments from their culture — even if they don’t play them. In addition to doing that, I can also now show images from the Musical Instrument Museum that just opened in Phoenix earlier this month. It has the largest collection of musical instruments in the world, and I’ll be sharing links to multimedia presentations from the museum.

Even with these additions, just to keep it simple I’m still calling this post The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments:

MAKING MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS:

Though I’m sharing links to instrument-making sites (and, by the way, I’m only interested in instruments that can be built during part of a class period), I primarily use a book that I would strongly recommend you purchase.

In 1980, my extraordinarily talented  mother-in-law, Marilyn Judson, co-wrote a neat book titled Simple Folk Instruments to Make and Play.

It’s filled with simple, step-by-step instructions to easily make musical instruments.

I’ve used it for lessons with English Language Learners. Making a musical instrument provides tons of language-development opportunities — both during and after the lessons. I figure music teachers might find it fun, too.

The book is long-out-of-print, but it’s available used on Amazon for peanuts.

No new wealth will accumulate to our family by your purchase since you can only buy it used, but I think it’s a good resource for teachers to have.

In addition to the book, here are a few good online resources:

9 Easy to Make Musical Instruments for Kids

Making Musical Instruments

How to Make Musical Instruments for Kids: Video Series

STOMP VIDEOS:

The STOMP website

YouTube has many clips.

MetaCafe has Stomp The Kitchen and Stomp Basketball.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM:

The World In Musical Instruments
is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The Museum itself has a neat video.

An Arizona newspaper has another slideshow.

Museum of Musical Instruments is a New York Times slideshow.

The Art Is Instrumental is another Times slideshow.

Suggestions are welcome…

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 450 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

February 1, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
12 Comments

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development

'movie posters' photo (c) 2006, michell zappa - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

NOTE: Movie video clips come and go on the Web, so some of the scenes at these links are no longer available. However, I’m always updating this post, and all my lists. The links near the bottom are the most recent ones.

I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years, and know a lot of good scenes that will work with English Language Learners. However, I don’t have an infallible memory, and I haven’t seen all the movies ever made.  So I figured that there must quite a few other lists out there of movie scenes that would work well with ELL’s, and, after some “googling,” I discovered that I was right.

This “The Best…” list is a “sister list” to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.  There, I share some good clips, as well as other resources, and tell how I use these kinds of movie scenes in the classroom (you also might be interested in The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners).

My favorite way of using them is a technique called “Back To The Screen” that I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example). I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

The movie scenes I share here are ideal for this kind of activity.  Some of them include video clips of the actual scenes from YouTube.  If you want to use those videos, but YouTube is blocked at your school, you might want to read The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School.

Of course, there are many other ways to use a video clip as a language-development activity. James Keddie has created a great site called TEFL Clips that shares video clips and different English exercises that can be used with them. Many of his ideas can be adapted for these video scenes, too.

If the scenes on this list can’t be found on YouTube, I just rent a DVD and show the scene.

Some of the video clips on these sites are not appropriate for classroom use, though they are a very small percentage.  So this post is for teacher, not student, consumption.

Here are my picks for The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development:

The 50 Funniest Movies Scenes Ever (With Videos) is a good list that includes videos of the scenes, too.

Slapstick’s Greatest Hits shares several clips, including from “I Love Lucy” and the silent era’s Harold Lloyd.

 

What Is The Best Movie Scene You Can Find On YouTube? answers that question with a number of different clips — some inappropriate for classroom use.

Popular Mechanics has a great list of what they consider to be The Best Car Chases In Movie History, and include online video clips.

The Oregonian newspaper has a little different view of The Best Movie Chase Scenes, again including clips.

AMC’s Filmsite has an incredible list of different types of “The Best” scenes — best scary scenes, best disaster scenes, etc. It doesn’t include clips, but that’s what Netflix is for.

CNN has a list of The Best — And Worst — Movie Battle Scenes — without clips.

And here’s a list of The Best Martial Arts Movie Fight Scenes.

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links. It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content. That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like this new site so much. What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

This kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen,” which I explain in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

The 10 greatest car chases of all time is a great video slideshow from Salon.

Movie Segments For Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups is a blog that shares video clips and written activities for English Language Learners.

“The 15 Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time” is a great slideshow of video clips from TIME Magazine.

10 Best Car Chases in Movie History comes from Popular Mechanics.

Greatest Movie Car Chases comes from Rotten Tomatoes.

10 Best Car Chase Scenes is from Best Oti.

10 Best Hollywood Movie Car Chases! is from What Culture!

20 Greatest Movie Car Chases is from Chris On Cars.

I love using Pink Panther scenes. Here are links to two of my favorites.

The blog Film English has lot of great clips and ideas on how to use them in class.

The Cinematic Chase is a video collection from The New York Times of great movie chase scenes.

The Golden Gate Bridge: Who destroyed it best? is from io9.

TIME Magazine periodically puts together slideshows that include thematically-based video clips:

Hot Pursuits: 10 Awesome Non-Car Chase Scenes

10 Memorable Movie Breakfast Scenes

Love Always: Top 10 Movie Moms We Wish Were Ours

The 10 Most Memorable Ads Featuring Celebrities And Their Kin

Apocalypse Wow: 10 Ways Hollywood Has Ended the World is a slideshow, with video clips, from TIME.

Great Video Clips For ELLs: “The 25 Most Suspenseful Movies Ever Made”

Action Movie Kid: DreamWorks dad Daniel Hashimoto turns toddler son into lightsaber-wielding CGI superhero is from The Independent, and shares several very short videos that would be good to show English Language Learners and then have them describe what they saw. Here’s an example:

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

December 22, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators — 2009

I periodically post “most popular” lists of websites (and books) that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

I’ve made quite a few posts that fit into this category, and thought I’d highlight which ones I thought were the best and most useful for educators.

Here are my choices for The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators — 2009 (not listed in order of preference):

ANIMAL VIDEOS: I’ve found that short funny animal videos are great to show to English Language Learner students and then — together — we write about what we saw. In addition, I”ve used an exercise called “back to the screen” (see The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL for more information on how it works) with these types of videos.

Animal Planet is a great source for these kinds of videos. They have a page where you can see their most-watched videos of “all time.” You can see videos of “talking birds, water-skiing squirrels, and multi-talented dogs…”

NEWS: BBC News has a neat Live World Map that shows what news is popular in what part of the world at anytime. Here is a good explanation about how it works.

Richard Byrne has described the second resource in this category perfectly. So I’m going to quote from his post, and I would encourage you to go there to read his ideas on how to use it with students: “Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked.”

EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS: Most Popular Educational Videos – All Time comes from a site called eduTube. It looks like there are some pretty interesting ones in the mix.

EDUCATION BLOGS: This category is a bit tricky. There is, of course, The Edublog Awards list. PostRank also has their own list of the “most engaged” blogs in the education category. There’s controversy about their rankings (see Sue Waters’ blog post Latest Statistics Say My Blogs Are……?), but I do think it’s a nice place to visit now and then to learn about new blogs, especially for people new to the education blogosphere.

EDUCATION WEBSITES: A site called eBizMBA compiles a monthly ranking of websites in various categories, including:

Top 55 Reference Websites

20 Most Popular Health Websites

Top 20 Science Websites

EDUCATION ARTICLES: ASCD SmartBrief is on The Best Ways To Keep-Up With Current Education Issues. This very widely-circulated daily newsletter is published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), a national organization of educators. It consistently provides thought-provoking articles from around the country. You can see a regularly updated list of its “most-clicked-on” stories here.

MUSEUM WEBSITES: Here’s a list of the two hundred most popular museum websites, including links to them.

ZOOS & THEIR WEBSITES: Check-out this list of USA Top Zoos & Favorite Parks.

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 3, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
6 Comments

“Movieclips” Is A Real Find!

(Update on where it’s available: As of March 1, 2010, Movieclips is available internationally”)

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links.

It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content.

That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like this new site so much.

What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

This kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen,” which I explain in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

I’m adding Movieclips to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

August 6, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Most Popular Animal Videos

This is my usual introduction to one of these “most popular” posts:

As regular readers know, I’ve been posting “most popular” lists of websites that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

I’ve found that short funny animal videos are great to show to English Language Learner students and then — together — we write about what we saw.  In addition, I”ve used an exercise called “back to the screen” (see The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL for more information on how it works) with these types of videos.

Animal Planet is a great source for these kinds of videos.  They have a page where you can see their most-watched videos of “all time.”

You can see videos of “talking birds, water-skiing squirrels, and multi-talented dogs…”

June 10, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Results From Student Evaluation Of My Class And Me (Part Two)

Last week I shared the results of an evaluation completed by students in my ninth-grade mainstream English class.

Today, I had students in my Intermediate English class complete an anonymous evaluation, too, though some of the questions were a bit different.

I’ll first share the results, and then some reflections on them:

RESULTS

FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES: The four top-ranked activities were field trips, working in the computer lab,  playing learning games in class, and reading in class.

LEAST FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES:  The four least-liked activities were reading at home, doing homework,  writing essays, and watching videos (we do it by using an activity called Back to the Screen that practices listening, speaking, and writing skills).

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE MOST: Writing essays was the top-ranking activity in this category, which is interesting since it was listed as one of the least favorite class activities.  The second-ranked activity was watching videos, another one that was voted one of the least favorite ones.  Field trips and reading in class were the other two top-ranked in this category.

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE LEAST: Playing games and working in the computer lab were the two “winners’ here, which was interesting because they were listed near the top of which activities students liked the most.  The other activities in this category included vocabulary and reading homework.

RATING MR. FERLAZZO AS A TEACHER:

On the positive side, students rated me very high in patience, in spending time getting to know them, being friendly, being organized, and in working hard.

They also said that I should maintain better class discipline and that I talk too much.

All except two would like to have me as a teacher again.

PACE OF THE CLASS: All students said the pace of the class was “Just right.”

THE CLASS WOULD BE BETTER IF_____: The primary response was that students would have liked to spend more time practicing speaking skills.

MY REFLECTIONS:

I do find it interesting that students felt they learned the most from some activities they liked the least (writing essays and doing the listening/speaking/writing process with videos).

Students listed the computer lab as one of the activities where they felt they learned the least.  I believe that has more to do with my getting a bit “lazy” near the end of the year about how we used our lab time.  I believe that this ranking will change dramatically next year when I plan on having students more engaged in content creation and interaction with our international sister classes.

I need to spend time thinking about if and how I can make the vocabulary and reading homework a better learning experience (they were both ranked low by students in that category).  For vocabulary, students need to identify new words, create their own personal “dictionaries” and use them as a basis for a speaking activity in class.  For reading, they need to read a book of their choice for thirty minutes each night.

Our primary focus in Intermediate English is developing writing skills using the great Write Institute curriculum. There’s plenty of time to incorporate more opportunities for speaking practice in class, but it’s also easy to focus entirely on writing which, based on student feedback, we did this year. So, next year, I’ll need to be more conscious of incorporating speaking activities.

Any other thoughts?

April 26, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
22 Comments

The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them)

'Students watch oral history videos, and guided by teachers, discuss content.' photo (c) 2011, EIFL - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You might want to see our book excerpt, Eight Ways to Use Video With English Language Learners


And check out The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 — So Far

Check Out my related New York Times post

Movies and television shows can be an effective tool for teaching and learning English (or, for that matter, any academic subject) if used strategically and not as a “babysitting” device.

I thought it might be useful to prepare a “The Best…” list resources that teachers might find useful related to using video in the ESL/EFL classroom. I’ve appreciated the suggestions that readers have offered and, even if they didn’t make my list, I’ve the titles that they have recommended near the end of post.

Before I list specific movies or shows, I’ll begin by some ideas, and sites, where you can get more recommendations on how to use video in the classroom.

I’ve hardly ever shown a video clip for more than ten minutes during one class period. There are many ways to use them, but I’ve primarily done so in two ways. One is just to show a clip connected to the theme we might be studying at the time, and then have students write what happened chronologically.

The other is a technique called “Back To The Screen” that I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example. I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy activity.

Two excellent sites that offer countless other ideas about how to use videos in teaching and learning English are Ressources pour le College and The English Learner Movie Guide. The resources they offer are just too numerous to list here. In addition to teaching activities, you can get suggestions for which movies might work best for specific purposes.

You might also be interested in The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development.

Now I’ll list what I believe to be The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (by the way, links usually are connected to Amazon). I’m doing ranking a bit differently from my past lists. All the ones I list I think are comparable in terms of usefulness in the classroom. However, there are two that I think are stand-outs. I’ll save them for the end.

Here are my picks:

I like Brum , a little talking car that has all sorts of adventures. Younger and older students find it entertaining.

Animated Tales Of The World from HBO is an excellent series of folktales from throughout the world. I’ve used them to teach geography, history, and writing.

The Pink Panther series of movies have been great, specifically the parts where Peter Sellers fights his man-servant Cato. These hilarious slapstick scenes are wonderful times to teach vocabulary related to home. However, I offer recommendation with some hesitancy, since some could view it as perpetuating stereotypes and find it offensive. I’d be interested in hearing opinions on issue. Certainly, none of my students, who are mostly Asian, have felt that way. I’ve engaged students in kind of discussion everytime I’ve shown the movies.

Father Of The Bride with Steve Martin (and its sequel) provides some hilarious and teachable scenes about family, food, and home.

David Deubelbeiss, from EFL Classroom 2.0, and I agree that the movie Bigis a great one. In fact, David is going to upload a bunch of classroom activities related to the movie on his site. (Since I originally posted list, David has more ideas and resources here.)

The Bear provides a lot of opportunities to discuss serious topics. It doesn’t have a whole lot of dialogue, so it’s very accessible to Beginning English Language Learners.

Globe Trekker has a ton of excellent travel videos. I’ve used them in all of my English, Geography, and History classes, and they’re very accessible.

I’m ranking two collections of TV shows as the Top Two videos for teaching and learning ESL/EFL.

Number two is America’s Funniest Home Videos. It has so many editions — family, pets, sports, animals — that you can find something to teach just about anything. They’re already divided into short clips. My only caveat, though, is that a few of them seem cruel and/or disgusting to me. So I screen them before I use a clip in class.

My absolute favorite show to use is Mr. Bean — The Whole Bean. Mr. Bean is very accessible to even Beginning English Language Learners, and he is involved in so many situations that you can find a clip that will support whatever unit you’re teaching. And he’s so funny! David Deubelbeiss at EFL Classroom 2.0 has collected the best Mr. Bean videos for English Language Learners.

Readers made a number of other suggestions. I didn’t include some of them in my list just because I haven’t seen the shows.

Sebastian recommends Seinfield and Joey, specifically the episode called Joey and the ESL. I definitely want to see that — how often is an ESL class shown in a TV situation comedy?

EFL Geek recommends several movies, including An Inconvenient Truth, Almost Famous, and Stand By Me. For TV, he likes Lost, Corner Gas, Prison Break and Smallville. I did a quick and informal poll of my students, and they agreed that Smallville helped them with their English a lot.

I regularly use Connect With English, a video series that’s designed to help students learn English and be engaging. It seems to be one of the better ones of its type out there. Though the supporting materials are good, you do have to pay for them. I thought readers might be interested in one page worksheet that we use instead. Students have to make predictions based on the title of the episode, explain if their predictions were correct, write several questions about the episode that they ask a partner afterwards (who then writes the answers). It’s good listening, speaking, and writing practice.

(I’m adding Movie Lens to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.  It’s a new recommendation/search engine for movies, and it’s by far the most effective tool — for teachers, at least – I’ve found to search for movies.

The other typical sites that let you search for movies do it by genre (adventure, romance, etc.).  Movie Lens is the first that I’ve found that, in addition to searching by genre, lets you search by what they call “tags.”  For example, I searched for “World War II” and got an extensive list of World War II-related movies — a list that I would not have found through Amazon, Netflix, or any other tool on The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, , Book, Movie, & Music Recommendations list.

is particularly helpful to me in the Social Science classes I teach to English Language Learners, where I often use short snippets of movies. )

Nanocrowd has been written-up by Read Write Web, and their post is probably worth a look.  It’s another way to find good movies for ESL/EFL.  Basically, you start typing in the name of a movie that’s similar to what you’re looking for (as you type letters, movie titles will appear). Click “enter” and you will be led to a page filled with similar movies and descriptive “tags” for those movies, too. Click on the tags, and you’ll see more of the same.

The Internet History Sourcebook Project is an extraordinary collection of history resources.  I’m particularly impressed with their Modern History in the Movies, Ancient History in the Movies, and Medieval Movies. In those three collections, movies are categorized by era and described. It’s a gold mine for any Social Studies teacher, and especially for those of us who teach English Language Learners. I use very short clips of movies, following by a writing/thinking prompt, all the time.

American History Film Resources also offers a good listing of film resources for different periods of American history.

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links.

It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content.

That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like new site so much.

What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen.”

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

AnyClip has indexed and categorized scenes from twenty movies, and will soon be doing the same with 200 more month. It’s categorization system is not nearly as sophisticated as Moveclips, but it could still be useful.

David Deubelbeiss at EFL Classroom 2.0 has given us all a gift by compiling his Top 100 Youtube videos for EFL. You might find The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School helpful to use with his list.

Using film and moving image to enrich ESOL teaching and learning is a very nice listing of different ways to use film with English Language Learners. It was written by Cormac Conway and Michaela Salmon.

Meltinpop is a new site dedicated to what they call “free association.” Users identify “themes” related to anything they are interesting in — songs related to food, movie scenes with car chases, scenes from television shows about doctors, etc. Other users then respond with their suggestions. It’s got quite a few “themes” already started. could be very handy for ESL/EFL teachers looking for multimedia to connect to the thematic unit or specific lesson they want to teach. You can only log-in through Facebook, so it probably wouldn’t be workable for student use.

David Deubelbeiss some nice resources and ideas in his post, Using Silent Video in the EFL Classroom.

I’ve always asked students to watch English movies or television programs as part of their weekly homework, but David Deubelbeiss writes much more thoughtfully about the idea in post on what he calls Extensive Watching.

WingClips has organized a huge number of short clips from movies thematically — perseverance, responsibility — and then lets you show them from the site or embed them elsewhere. Important caveats to keep in mind before checking it out are that it clearly comes from a religious, and Christian, perspective, so a number of the themes — adultery, for example, you probably just want to skip. In addition, it appears to have an exceptionally large number of war-related movie clips (“Machine Gun Preacher”?), but that might be a false impression. As in any website, you just have to pick and choose what’s useful.

Inspire My Kids has short video clips and descriptions of people that are designed to inspire students.

Learn English Through Movies is from clubEFL.

Check out Twitter Chat summary from #ELTchat on using movies and videos in and out of class

A Neat Way To Use A Video In Class

Very Helpful Research On Using Photos & Videos In Lessons

I learned about the Miniscule video series from the great site, The Kid Should See . Here is how they described it:

A French-made collection of short stories, Minuscule is about the private lives of ants, snails, bees, caterpillars, wasps, spiders and other tiny creatures, all told without any speaking at all.

In some ways, they’re like an animated Mr. Bean short — perfect for ELL’s. They’re engaging, brief, and provide plenty of opportunities for students to describe what they saw in writing and orally. You can find a bunch of them on YouTube. Here are twe of them:

Of course, English Central may be the very best place on the Web for videos and ELL’s.

In video, Dan Meyer demonstrates how the movie search engine Subzin could be very useful for teachers. I would strongly recommend you read his short, but elegant, post describing how he used it to create video. Subzin is a search engine for quotes in movies and series. For example, here’s a page of results after I searched “asking questions” and I see some good candidates for The Best Videos Showing The Importance Of Asking Good Questions list. ESL/ELL teachers could find very handy when they’re looking for clips to support thematic units like food, or specific grammar functions. Now, sit back and enjoy Dan’s work (though, again, be sure to read his post about it, too):

50 ways to use video in the classroom is by David Deubelbeiss.

David Deubelbeiss has come up some very useful student sheets to use with ELLs when showing videos

Lessons On Movies is a new site created by the incomparable Sean Banville. It’s the latest addition to Sean’s “empire” of free and helpful websites for English language learners and their teachers.

Learning English through a TV series is a helpful blog post.

Video In The Classroom is by David Deubelbeiss.

I think the old silent movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are great for English Language Learners.

I remember when I first played a scene from a Chaplin film years ago, all the Hmong refugees in my class started yelling, “Charlie! Charlie!” His silent films were played a lot in refugee camps.

As with practically all videos, I never play a full one — just a scene, and typically one that ties into the thematic unit that we’re studying at the time — home, work, etc., or if we’re learning about history I can tie something into it. Since both Keaton and Chaplin made so many movies, there’s usually a funny or action-packed scene that I can connect to anything I’m teaching.

Open Culture has a list of links to free online videos of both Chaplin and Keaton movies, though many are missing from their lists. You can just search YouTube, too.

I’ve embedded two Chaplin films that I use — one is Pay Day, which has scenes I use when we learn about work, and the other is Gold Rush, which I’ve used when we’re learning about history. If you have some favorites that you use, let me know what that are!

Also, just an aside, I usually show one of Chaplin’s movies to my non-ELL classes during the year, too, just so they know about him. I have never had a student in my mainstream classes say they knew who he was prior to watching a clip I show.

Using Video in the Classroom is from ELT Experiences.

Vicki Hollet has published the 35th ELT Blog Carnival (formerly known as the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival) and it’s a great one focusing on Teaching and Learning with Video.

“Simon’s Cat” Videos Are Perfect For English Language Learners

The New “Connect With English” Site Has Got To Be One Of This Year’s Best New Sites For ELLs

“What Is This Animal Thinking or Saying (If It Could Talk)?” Is A Fun Language Development Exercise

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