Here is a fantastic tool to introduce to our students in the language classroom if we have the technology available to us, that is, an Internet connected device, a data projector and speakers (or an interactive whiteboard). Youglish is a website that will render occurrences of word searches using YouTube video as corpora. One simply types the word or words into the search box and is presented with the videos.
Here I looked for curiously and Youglish found 475 instances of the word. You may narrow this search down and select US, UK or Australian English (I just did and it’s 379, 85 and 11 examples respectively).
The video will start playing a couple of seconds before the word or words of our choice is uttered and a transcript with the highlighted word/s is provided below. There are also rewind, pause, replay and forward buttons as you can see in this screenshot.
So how can we actually benefit from it in the language classroom? In the video below I am sharing 3 ways to do so.
Youglish presents words in myriads of contexts and therefore it’s a brilliant resource for students as this will be helpful towards memorization and retrieval of those words. As Hugh Dellar wisely puts it in his blog entry In so many words: on the importance and shape of vocabulary lists on his Lexical Lab page: “The more learners are confronted with a word in changing contexts, the more lexical primings learners will store – or at least have the chance to store – in their minds. Let words frequently reappear in texts (readings, listenings, videos) so that collocations and colligations collect in the learners’ minds.”
Another key benefit from a consistent use of Youglish is the exposure to connected speech. Most trouble when it comes to understanding English stems from word boundaries (or perhaps should we say lack of it). By listening to very short extracts containing a given word (or strings of words if they use inverted commas in the search), our students can train their ears towards a more successful and effective listening outcome.
A similar site is Fluid Data. It is the same concept but it uses audio files as opposed to videos. Fluid Data features a wider array of examples so it’s perhaps a better call if we are looking for a very specific string of words. There are over 600,000 matches of curiously on Fluid Data. I would personally choose from the 475 matches on Youglish, as videos are more exciting material to play. However, if you were looking for something like “utter rubbish”, Fluid Data has 51 matches whereas Youglish has 3 (which might be good enough, anyway).