Sep 21

YouGlish for the Classroom

exploring grammar
YouGlish for the classroom
If you've never used YouGlish for your English language learners, you're missing a trick, especially for subtle grammar distinctions at higher levels- here's an idea for how to use it!.

Video transcript

YouGlish has been around for a while now but I wonder if you’re using it with your language learners? If you’re not, let me show you how you could.

I’m Jo Gakonga. I’ve been an English language teacher for over 30 years, and I’ve been training teachers on CELTA and MA TESOL courses for over 20 of those. I’ve also got a website at ELT-Training where I make useful material for English language teachers at all stages of their careers. Don’t forget to like and subscribe- I make a new video every week.

If you haven’t seen YouGlish before this is what it looks like. You can type in any word or phrase and it’ll give you multiple examples of it being used in YouTube clips. This is potentially brilliant for language learning because it gives you a range of authentic example sentences and lots of different people’s voices so learners can see how it’s naturally pronounced. You can even choose the variety or varieties of English you want to search- and actually use it in other languages too.

My feeling is that it’s especially useful for higher level learners who are struggling with those tricky parts of the language where there are a plethora of context specific rules. For this kind of thing, learners need to be exposed to lots and lots of examples so that they can start to understand the patterns in a more intuitive way. The present perfect is a great example of the kind of language I mean.

As you know, it’s tricky. It could be something that’s still happening- I’ve been waiting for the past two hours... and maybe will continue, maybe won’t.

Or it can be something that’s finished recently- Look at this lovely food... Dad’s been cooking all day!

The simple and continuous forms can be almost synonymous. For example- I’ve been living here since 2010 vs I’ve lived here since 2010. I think these are pretty much the same.

Or the meaning could be significantly different- I’ve been reading the paper (you’re probably still reading it although you might not be actually doing so at this moment) vs I’ve read the paper... definitely finished.

So YouGlish can help.

Ask it to search for the example sentences you want and see what comes up. You could pre-record this on a screencast so that you know what’s coming up and treat it like a Guided Discovery task.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here are different uses of the present perfect. Which is the meaning?

1. An action or state that started in the past and is still continuing.
2. An action or state that started in the past and is finished but relevant to now.
3. An action or state in unfinished time.

Watch along and see if you can identify them.

Here I’ve been spending so much energy telling people stress is bad for your health.
Unfinished action/ state
And I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen it work. And I’ve been part of seeing it and making…
Finished action/ state
But recently we’ve been focusing a lot more on the audience experience
Unfinished action/ state
Obviously, this has been a tough couple of weeks
Unfinished time
But I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, really.
Unfinished action/ state
Because I’ve seen two out of three of the last years’ productions
Finished action/ state
This year, I’ve launched Scilicet
Unfinished time
By creating a body of work just like I’ve done
Finished action/ state
“Because you have been holding it since this morning” he said.
Unfinished action/ state
I’ve been working on this sort of piecemeal for a year
Unfinished action/ state
Stunning progress that’s been made over the last five years falls into 2 buckets
Unfinished time (finished action?)

After you’ve done this, you could also ask what they notice about most of the actions that are still continuing? They tend to be in the continuous form (although of course, not always).

This could be a useful exercise in class, but could also be useful as an exploration activity for homework. Ask them to find examples of a particular vocabulary or grammar item you’ve covered in class and bring them to the next session. It’s useful recycling too.

I hope you have fun with this and if you like it head on over to the website for lots of other useful material.
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