How to Boost Your Listening Skills with Interactive Video Transcripts
- You can click on any part of the transcript and then listen to that part of the video
- The words are highlighted as they are spoken
- You can use the ctrl + F function to find specific words or expressions and listen to them
Interactive Transcripts #1: YouTube
How To Find The Interactive Transcript On YouTube
Unfortunately, although they seem to be improving, the automatic YouTube captions generally contain errors. Once you’ve found a video with human-generated subtitles, click ‘more’ underneath the video and then click ‘transcript’.
Now you can see the interactive transcript. The bold text indicates the words being spoken at a particular moment in the video.
The interactive transcript is not the same thing as the subtitles that appear on the video. To show the subtitles, you need to click on the ‘cc’ button on the video screen.
How To Improve Your Listening With The YouTube Interactive Transcript
- I always recommend listening without subtitles or a transcript first and trying to understand as much as possible.
- Afterwards, you can use the transcript or subtitles to identify what you missed and start understanding why.
- Let’s say you watch a video or a section of a video without and then with the transcript. You use the transcript to identify words and expressions you struggled to recognise in spontaneous, natural speech.
- What you can then do is press “ctrl” + F on your computer keyboard (cmd + F on a Mac) and search for other examples of the word or expression in the video.
- Listen to them again, and practice trying to say them the way they sound in fast, natural English. Why did you fail to catch them? This post will give you some ideas. You can also simply click on a line of the transcript to listen to it again.
Recommended YouTube Channels
- The Ellen Show – talk show with US comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Also, check out this post I wrote for the iTalki blog about 10 ways to improve your listening skills with talk shows.
- Talks at Google – some of these videos are talks or presentations. Others are interviews, where the English will be more fluid and spontaneous. That said, at the end of the talks, there is a Q&A (question and answer) session with the audience, where the speaker responds in a more unplanned and conversational way.
- Storycorps – inspirational, true stories told by real people in the USA
- Movieclips – licensed clips of famous movies. Not all of them have human-generated captions so be sure to check before watching.
- If you like watching movies and TV shows, check out the official YouTube channels of your favourite networks. The Game of Thrones channel has subtitled videos, as does HBO the TV network which aired the series.
Find Videos With Human-Generated Subtitles That You Want To Watch
Interactive Transcripts # 2: TED Talks
Planned Presentations vs Spontaneous Interviews
To practise conversational English and prepare yourself for conversations in the real world, search for an interview with a TED speaker where they are speaking spontaneously.
A really interesting exercise would be to compare the way the speaker pronounces words in a TED talk compared to an off the cuff interview. You could use the search function I mentioned above to find different examples.
Veronika at doyouspeakfreedom.com has written a lovely article about life changing TED talks.
Compare and contrast the way Dan Ariely speaks in the two versions. What do you notice?
If you want my help with this process, check out the video below where I compare TED speaker Brené Brown’s speech during a TED Talk with how she talks in informal conversation.
3 Listening Resources For English Learners With Transcripts
Video Transcripts # 3: ELLLO
ELLLO or English Listening Lesson Library Online offers a variety of audio and video material. You can choose to show or hide the transcript as you listen.
I recommend listening without the transcript first and then using the transcript as a way to identify your difficulties.
What I love about this site is the wide variety of accents, both native and non-native to listen to, plus the English is generally conversational: natural, fluid and spontaneous rather than planned.
Video Transcripts # 4: Simple English Videos
Video Transcripts #5: British Council Learning English
If you’ve enjoyed today’s post, please share it with other learners who want to improve their English listening skills.
Do you have any questions, reflections or comments on this post? Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!