What was the last YouTube video you watched? Perhaps it was James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke or one of Zoella’s lifestyle vlogs. More than likely though, it was neither. You see, in recent years there’s been a subtle but significant shift in what we watch. More and more of us are not looking to YouTube to be entertained, we are looking to be educated. From make-up tutorials to cookery shows, the ‘How to’ video has grown in popularity in the last few years. Indeed searches related to “How to” on YouTube have been growing 70% year-on-year according to Google. YouTube is no longer just a platform of cat videos and Fail Compilations.
Meeting the global demand for English language learning content is a group of TEFL YouTubers who have made this sizeable niche their own. By delivering consistent weekly lessons in an informal yet stylish manner, they have garnered legions of followers, in some cases over 100,000 people. This success is largely down to the fact that their followers are looking for connection and community just as much as they are looking for language. There is an intimacy and vulnerability to what these TEFL YouTubers do and their audiences respond to that. The YouTube comments section can be a scary place sometimes but in most cases they are a testament to the positive impact these online lessons are having on people around the world.
Another reason for the success of English learning content on YouTube is the immediacy and accessibility it offers. No longer do learners have to wait for their next lesson to discover ‘how to say “comfortable” correctly’ , they can do it while waiting for the bus. From Santiago to Shenzhen, learners are devouring online English content autonomously. They are finding a connection with these TEFL YouTubers and making daily appointments with them. The classroom just got a whole lot bigger.
Should all teachers have a professional YouTube channel?
- It can help showcase your abilities and skills as a teacher.
- You can build a connection to a loyal audience of language learners.
- It can be a fun, creative and rewarding experience.
- It is time-consuming and hard work to produce consistently high-quality content.
- There are obviously technical issues which one needs to deal with e.g. lighting, sound, editing etc.
- Thick skin. People behave differently when they are hidden behind a keyboard and some comments can be hard to take. That said, the vast majority are positive and encouraging.
5 TEFL YouTubers Worth Checking Out
English with Lucy
English with Lucy is a stylish channel focusing on British English with lots of useful expressions and pronunciation videos.
Example: 10 Stunningly Beautiful English Words – http://bit.ly/2ktC0r1
Cork English Teacher
Cork English Teacher releases very clear, easy-to-follow pronunciation and vocabulary videos.
Example: Extreme Adjectives – http://bit.ly/2kTlP3Z
Chika’s English Lessons
Chika is a bilingual vlogger who teaches English to a mainly Japanese audience. Her channel is full of lifestyle videos and travelogs that are driven by her likeable personality.
Example: Definitely Absolutely Exactly – http://bit.ly/2jEDGKc
Mmm English is an Australian based channel run by Emma. Her videos focus on cooking, eating and creative ways to practise English.
Example: English Body Idioms – http://bit.ly/2jZYe2Y
Eat Sleep Dream English
My own channel, Eat Sleep Dream English, mixes modern British English with travel and culture. Think London hipster meets TEFL.
Example: Introducing Yourself and Talking About Your Job – http://bit.ly/2krSlgo
Tom Rees has been working in ELT since 2007 venturing across 3 continents. In 2012 he moved to Hong Kong to work for the British Council where he got the DELTA and headed up their myClub programme. He’s currently based in London where he run his own website Eat Sleep Dream English. He’s passionate about online content creation and digital trends for English language learning.