TED and other youtube favorites

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Youtube has evolved from being a forum for private videos to a platform where all kinds of institutions publish their visual material. Here one of my favorites is TED.

A student of mine showed me a talk given by Colin Stokes (How Movies Teach Manhood). Our classroom has access to the internet and we watched and discussed it together. In the mean time I have shown it to other groups as well.

Colin Stokes talks about his experience as a father who enjoys getting to watch all the old movies again, from pixar animation films (from Wall-e to Merida) to Star Wars, and asks what the impact, and the hidden or not so hidden messages might be that are conveyed to his children; what it is they actually ‘suck in’. Especially his son. And he compares those films with the old classic musical of The Wizard of Oz. Great stuff for discussing gender roles and related issues, or just simply having fun exchanging favorite childhood movies.

The choices of topics on TED are extensive and range from science to social studies, entertainment, health and food issues, technology etc. If you have access to the internet in your class room, go there, pick a topic (actually pick the topic or talk before you go there), listen and discuss whatever it is you chose. Watching TED presentations offers a great mix of listening comprehension and further discussion with excellent audio material on a very high level of quality. Many, if not all, videos provide subtitles in many languages; switch on the English ones (and only the English ones) if the speaker is not so clearly understandable or your class not so advanced.

Another youtube favorite of mine is a series of short videos under the heading ‘How it’s made‘. Here you get short films showing how all kinds of products are being produced or manufactured. Germans will be reminded of the ‘Sendung mit der Maus’. The link above leads to ‘How Cheese is Made’; in my classes we have watched how frozen French fries are made, hot dogs, bubble gum, pizza – all the healthy stuff. (But you also find non-food items.)

In general, the internet is a great source for audio material that is not too long (in comparison to feature films e.g.). You find plenty of videos that don’t extend 20 minutes. And you can interrupt it any time to talk about the issues presented, clarify vocabulary if necessary or any other comprehension problem that might come up.

I mainly teach in companies, and though our meeting rooms don’t always have access to the internet, there always are rooms somewhere in the company that do and that can be booked in between.

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