Segmenting YouTube Videos for Better Comprehension Opportunities

I like my students to have opportunities to view content videos delivered in English that are NOT designed for English language learners, in which the speakers sometimes speak too fast and use unfamiliar vocabulary. In other words, they speak like many college instructors or business people whom my students will need to be able to understand sometime soon. So, to break down the information and make it more easily understandable for them, my goal was to edit YouTube videos on my Mac into various segments, chunking the information and interspersing reflection and discussion questions to assess, “sooner than later,” my students’ understanding of the material presented. This was easy to do in a face-to-face (f2f) class simply by stopping the video, but I wanted to be able to assign the videos to students who were not present in f2f classes whether they were studying online or maybe just absent on the day of the presentation.  So, this is what I learned to do so easily, and you can do it, too. Here’s how:

First, open on the web which converts the YouTube video to various formats. (I chose the MP4 format because, from what I understood, it was the most useful on different platforms.) Paste the URL of the video you want to segment into, and press Continue.

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Decide what quality and file size you want your video segments to be, or use the default settings. Click Download and Start.

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Wait for the message that the conversion has been successfully completed.

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When it tells you it is successfully completed, click Download on this new screen.

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Once the movie is downloaded, click on it, and it opens up in Quicktime Player. Click the Edit command, decide where you want your video segments to start and stop, and click Trim.

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So, now you have your first segment. Upload this segment to your YouTube account by clicking on Creator Studio and then upload, and then wait for it to be processed. (Since the segments are generally quite small, this won’t take very long.) Repeat these steps as often as needed to segment the video the way you wish.

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Now  you can upload your new YouTube video segments to your presentation. I used Google Slides for my presentations because it is easy to upload YouTubes to my Google Sites and my blog here on WordPress.

In my presentations, I add a vocabulary slide or two to discuss before watching any of the video segments, and I generally leave two slides after each video segment, one for a question or reflection and the next for a response. You  decide what works best in your presentation for you and your students. At the end of the presentation, consider adding a brief re-check via Google Forms or Socrative for students to do individually or in pairs as one final comprehension check to finish up the lesson.

Enjoy! I think your students will appreciate this as mine do. It gives us ample time for discussion and assessment of comprehension between segments.

For related information:



Activity Picture Prompts for Discussion

Here are some slides which show a variety of activities to elicit conversation in your language classes. Ask your students about what they see. Use these slides to talk about clothing and different kinds of equipment needed for the activities. (Are they count or non-count items? Describe them.) What different kinds (and levels) of skills are needed to participate in these activities? How are these skills acquired? (Are there any similarities to acquiring language skills?)
Are these activities common where the students come from? Did they participate in them “back home?” Have them talk about an event they participated in. (This is how I found out one of my students was actually an Olympian!)
What about now? Do they engage in these activities in their adopted homes? Why or why not? What are the benefits? What are the difficulties? Are there health benefits to participating in these activities? What are they?  Would they recommend that other people try them? Are these skills for careers or hobbies? (What’s the difference?) Are there opportunities for professionals and amateurs to participate?
Your students can bring a picture of a hobby, sport, or activity that they enjoy participating in and meet in groups of three or four to discuss the different pictures. The group can then select one of its members to present it to the class. Or, turn this discussion into a writing (blogging) activity or an oral demonstration presentation to put into a vlog. Students can tweet the links with an image to their online presentations. The possibilities are endless!

Exercise: Using the articles, “a,” “an,” and “the”

Feed Your Brain and the World!

Feed your brain, and help feed the world by visiting Free Rice.   While you’re feeding your brain with information on a variety of topics, you are also donating 10 grains of rice for each question you are able to answer correctly.  Currently the rice is going to Pakistan where food is so badly needed due to the recent flooding.

The game is addictive and fun.  Choose your questions from a variety of topics such as Art, Chemistry (chemical symbols), English (grammar, vocabulary), Geography (identify countries on the map, world capitals), Language learning (French, German, Italian, Spanish), and Math (basic pre-algebra and multiplication).  There are sixty levels of difficulty.  The difficulty increases as you continue to get answers correct.

“Addictive, yes. But . . . each correct answer results in the donation of rice to help feed the hungry around the globe. Perhaps that qualifies the game as a good addiction . . . one with redeeming qualities, something that’s, oh, didactic and edifying.” – Kansas City Star


Earlier I posted a video about the H1N1 flu from BrainPOP, an award winning, curriculum-based site BrainPop, developed by Dr. Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician, as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients.  But, I didn’t give you any information about the latest addition to this site.  BrainPOP for ESL is an educational resource featuring games, lesson plans, activities and animated movies currently in BETA form for level one ELLs.  It is designed for K-12, but our adults can benefit as well.  This would be a great site not only for developing English skills but for getting students started on the computer as well.  Language/memory games such as Concentration are perfect for helping the students learn to maneuver the mouse.

BrainPOP ESL focuses on reading, writing, vocabulary building, grammar and pronunciation.  There is an opening video for each of the five lessons with or without closed captions.  The lessons consist of word lists and flashcards, phonetics help, grammar charts, hear it and say it lessons, printing lessons, listening exercises, and comprehension quizzes. There are Teaching Tools to assist the instructor in using this and expanding it in the classroom.

Currently, this only exists for level one students.  Hopefully, more lessons will be added soon.

Have fun with this!  Your students will!

Things We Say Wrong

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Annotated Bibliography – Twitter, Social Networking, and Communities of Practice

TESL-EJ posts an Annotated Bibiliography-Twitter, Social Networking, and Communities of Practice by Kristi Newgarden about social networking tools such as Twitter as learning tools, specifically for language learning.  Not an easy read, but an interesting one of you are considering using Twitter in your classroom.