A St. Patrick’s Day Brief History and Celebration Video and Quiz

St. Patrick`s Day is such an important holiday here in the greater Milwaukee area, that it is important to talk to our students about the celebration, its history, and its relevance to our culture here. To do that, I like to present The History Channel’s three-minute video, “Deconstructing History: Ireland” with its very brief history of the holiday and country of origin, Ireland.

Prior to having students watch the video, it is valuable to go over the vocabulary and geography referred to in the movie. Terms such as northern, southern, eastern, western, island, mile (compared to kilometer), square miles, width, length, rainfall, and provinces. It may also be good to explain the difference between northern Ireland and Northern Ireland. Students should know something about the Great Potato Famine and how it affected Ireland and the United States. My city, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was long known as the Beer Capital of the World, so students here should definitely know what a brewery is. (A tour of a local brewery for adult students would be appropriate!)

After presenting the vocabulary, students will need to watch the video a minimum of twice before attempting to answer the questions in the Google Form below. How many times students may return to the video for answers would depend on how this is assigned. The “quiz” may be done together as a class to generate conversation or as a group or individual assignment. Points are assigned to each question should instructors choose to use this “quiz” for a grade.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

May the luck

Our Advent Calendar


My students this semester are all Christian, celebrate Christmas, and want to learn more about how Christmas is celebrated in the United States. This calendar gives me the opportunity to share with them many cultural icons and traditions, also facilitating conversation. The website I used, AdventMyFriend, makes it easy to fill each date with your choice of “gifts,” and gives you some hints as to what you can do to personalize it for your friends, family, or students!

Click on the link to access my calendar, and then click on the dates as the month progresses. https://adventmyfriend.com/20138/62c2a98120/?embed I hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas to all!

Voice of America: Let’s Learn English

Let’s Learn English is a new course for English learners. Certified American English teachers designed the course for beginners. The course continues for 52 weeks. Each week, there will be a new lesson with video and instruction in speaking, vocabulary and writing.

Just thought you should know about this new, ESL/EFL free resource!

From: VOA Learning English

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 clipconverter.cc 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 clipconverter.cc, and press Continue.

Screen Shot 1

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

Screen Shot 2

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.

Screen Shot 3

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.

Screen Shot-J


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:



Listening for Content: How Geography Shaped Japan

Using silent short films to improve language skills

Do your students like to watch videos? Of course, they do!  Are you looking for creative ways to practice conversation and writing? Of course, you are!

Silent short films can be used in any language class at any level. They can be used to develop vocabulary and enhance conversation and writing practice. “Magic,” by KARTHIK & VIGNESH is one such film.

Here are some possible activities to go along with ¨Magic” for your English language learners.

Beginning Levels:  Ask your students, orally or in writing, present and present continuous tense questions: Who is in the story? Where are they? Describe the boy and the girl. What are they wearing? What is the weather like? At the beginning of the film, what is the little girl looking at? What is the cook making? What does he do with the first one he makes? What gesture does the cook give the girl? What does that mean? What is the boy looking at? What does he take from his pocket? What does he buy? Why does the little girl refuse the bread? What does the boy do with the stick? What happens next? How does the little girl feel at the beginning of the movie? at the end? What is magic? Do you believe in magic?

Intermediate Levels: *Use past tense verbs for the above beginning level questions. *Give the answers and ask the students to give the questions that elicit those responses (in the present and or past tenses). *Stop the video frequently and ask the students to add dialog to the characters’ parts. *Ask the students to continue the story. In the last scene, the two children are walking away from us hand in hand. Where are they going? What are they going to do? Will they go to a house where they live with their family, or will they live on the streets?  Will they go to school, or will they go to a job? Etc.

Advanced Levels: *Tell us the story presented in the film. *Are there hungry people in the United States? Is there hunger in your homeland? Is there help for hungry people in this country? in your homeland? What kind of help is there? What is poverty? Is it possible to eliminate poverty? How would you eliminate poverty? What does it mean to be poor? Can a person be poor and rich at the same time? How? What do you think are the ten richest countries in the world? the ten poorest? Check your answers. What resources are available to find these answers? Of your choices, what resource is the most up-to-date and trustworthy? Why? According to your chosen resource, what is the average per capita income in the richest country? in the poorest? What is the unemployment rate in those countries? What is the average amount of years of education per capita? What is the infant mortality rate? What is the average life span? Teachers should consider having the students graph their results. (What computer programs are available for students to use? Numbers? Excel? Sheets? Other?)  *UNICEF is an acronym. What does it stand for? What are some other common acronyms? *The teacher can stop the video frequently and ask the students to use reported speech and tell what the characters are thinking. This can be done in a variety of tenses.

What are some other ways we can use this video to enhance language teaching and learning? Share your thoughts!

Listening Exercise: American Authors’, “Best Day of My Life”

Check your answers!