Aug 5 - A useful tool for language learning

technology and tools

Looking for a great tool for language learning and SIX useful ideas for how to use it- here you go!

I’ve just come across another really useful tool for language learning. Want to know what it is and how I think you could use it? Stay with me.

I’m Jo Gakonga and if we’re meeting for the first time, I’ve been teaching English since 1989 and training teachers on CELTA and MA TESOL courses for over 20 years. I’ve also got a website at where I make useful material for English language teachers at all stages of their careers.

YouTube, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is an incredible resource for language learners- there’s so much content to suit all interests BUT at intermediate level or below using authentic video can be a bit overwhelming for learners and can just be demotivating, so having a way to support learners to engage with authentic language like this is definitely helpful.


If you haven’t come across this acronym before (I hadn’t), Tldr is internet speak for ‘too long don’t read’ and what this site does is to take any YT video and not only provide a transcript but also a summary of the content. I tried it out with a couple of my own videos and it does a pretty good job.

My feeling is that both the transcript and the summary are potentially a real support towards comprehension and I’ve got a few ideas for how you could use this. You could use any of these ideas alone, or combine them together- see what you think:

  1. Show them the video thumbnail- what do they think it’s about? Now give them the summary and give them time to read and see if they were right.
  2. Give them the transcript first (if it’s a longer video, maybe just part of it) and a reading comprehension task (you could put the transcript text into ChatGPT or Bard and ask it to write 10 questions for you if you wanted to save yourself some time). Then listen (with or without the transcript).
  3. Teach some of the more challenging vocabulary in the video- or a segment of it- especially if there are sound/ spelling discrepancies and then play the video while they read along.
  4. After they’ve listened to the video, ask them to write their own summary (maybe in pairs as a kind of dictogloss) and then compare it with the AI generated one.
  5. Ask them to identify useful lexical chunks from the transcript to learn.
  6. Work with a short part of the recording and ask learners to notice and mark sentence stress or intonation on the transcript. You could practice shadow reading along with the text afterwards (there’s a video here that shows you how to do this).

These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you can think of others. My feeling is that if you can suggest this kind of supportive tool to your learners, you can really encourage them to listen to YT videos autonomously because you’re making the task more manageable. You could even have an online suggestion board for YouTubers they enjoy or suggest some yourself.

Have fun with it.