A 5-minute guide to YouTube’s best kept listening skill secret

Aug 12, 2016 | 2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a detailed blog post about videos and transcripts, interactive or not. A big chunk of the post was about where to find and how to use YouTube interactive transcripts. After I wrote the post, and added a ton of images, I thought – why didn’t I just make a video about this? So, that’s exactly what I did!
In this video, I show you an example of an interactive transcript, so you can see exactly how it works and how it can help your listening skills. The key point to remember is this: for the interactive transcript to help you, you need to see the ‘cc’ button next to the video.

On YouTube, there are two types of captions: automatic and closed. The automatic captions, as the name suggests, are automatically created by YouTube when you upload a video. They can be fairly accurate, but often, they are full of errors. Closed captions are human-generated, so a real person either created them or corrected the automatic captions.

Personally, for this video, I checked and corrected the automatic captions, to make the subtitles and transcript an accurate reflection of my speech.

Useful links

Here are some YouTube channels where you can listen to authentic, conversational English. The videos all have human-generated transcripts. In my cheat sheet, I show you how to search YouTube to find other videos with closed captions. You can also find more details in my blog post on this topic.

YouTube channels with human-generated (not automatic) subtitles, where you can listen to authentic, spontaneous, conversational English.

Talks at Google


In this guest post on doyouspeakfreedom.com, I show you how to use podcast transcripts to improve your listening skills. You can use the same techniques with interactive YouTube transcripts.

Still not sure how to use YouTube videos to practise your listening? Get my free e-guide, Understand Conversational English to discover effective listening activities to improve your comprehension and get your ready for real life conversations.

Many thanks to Olya Sergeeva thanks to whom I learned about the power of interactive transcripts on YouTube and how to find them. She has a fascinating blog for English teachers at https://eltgeek.wordpress.com/

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