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TV's too fast!

My students always ask how can they improve their listening and as ELT teachers we know that Listening resources can be very expensive. Thankfully in most countries there is a great source of Listening in the form of Television.

The problem is that most English televison is designed for native speakers by native speakers. So let's take a look at what can be done to make it easier for non-native speakers.

Children's programmes

Children's cartoons generally contain easier English than programmes designed for adults and often the plots are simpler too. Teenage learners maybe quite happy to watch such programmes with lots of action and fun in them. Adults often consider such programmes childish. To encourage them, give them adult style questions about the programmes, for example:

  • What does this programme teach children? Does it teach moral values?
  • Is it similar to any stories in your own language?
  • What tenses were used? (And other grammar points)
  • Would you be happy for your children to watch these programmes?

The latest, hottest programmes

In many cases their English speaking friends are talking about the latest, hottest show on TV. They want to watch the show, but it's just too difficult... How can we reduce the difficulty of watching such a show!

  • We can provide an episode synopsis (A great place to find TV series plots are at: )
  • We can give students the chance to ask questions about the show.
  • We can record the TV show, so that they can watch it more than once.

Music Videos

Many students enjoy watching music videos and it is relatively easy to find the lyrics to such videos at: (Be careful not all lyrics are completely accurate)

In some cases these lyrics are an excellent source of English, especially those with narratives and an emphasis on the word usage. (e.g. eminem is a good modern example although he does swear in some of his songs.)

Simpler songs can also be used to help with pronunciation of key sound subsets and singing in class can help alleviate the boredom of drilling.


Encourage students to listen to the English soundtrack on the DVD. If there are subtitles in their own language, I'd encourage students not to use them if at all possible or only use them on the second viewing. (Weaker students may feel unable to do this)

Many English teachers argue that English subtitles can be a distraction and please be warned that the quality control of subtitles is laughable. (I'm afraid that applies to both pirated and original DVDs.)

Cultural Benefits

If you teach them how to watch English television programmes, you are not only teaching them general English, but you are also giving them key skills to help them socialise and integrate with English speaking people.

Caching Youtube files

I get asked this question a lot, so here is a quick guide to doing it. Please DO NOT infringe copyright.

1. Download VLC - VLC is a program that allows you to play and convert FLV files easily. If you do not have administrative priveledges to your PC you can download this version instead: Portable Apps VLC

2. Download the file itself.

If you are using Firefox, then the best thing to do is download the extension Downloadhelper (Do not allow students to use this tool, it can be abused) Otherwise go to a site such as: Keepvid


Resources on this Website


  • World's Most Dangerous Road (110KB PDF)
    This is a listening resource based on the free preview provided by National Geographic on YouTube.

  • An Inconvenient Truth (110KB PDF)
    A Handout to accompany the film, which is ideal for upper Intermediate students and above.

  • Yoda's Word Order Class (93KB PDF)
    Reinforce sentence patterns with this fun exercise based on StarWars.

  • How to build a Jet Engine (77KB PDF)
    This handout accompanies the YouTube video, provides a good listening comprehension exercise and fits in well with the manufacturing component of the GCSE curriculum.

Other Useful Pages

  • Comics
    How to use comics in lessons




Great place to find synopses.
Find song lyrics.
Has some nice material about movies.

English Trailers
The great thing about this site is that it also comes with worksheets and lesson ideas.