Integrating Technology in the Second Language Classroom

Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio 
SUNY Cortland 
© 2017
Downloading YouTube videos (and other media)

These days many teachers are accessing authentic videos made by native speakers and shared online via free services such as YouTube and Google Video. Some videos found here may present copyright issues. These sites can contain objectionable material, so be careful if providing access to students. Please be sure to use your common sense.

One potential problem that individual teachers might encounter is that many schools now block video sharing sites such as YouTube or Google Video to control bandwidth and to prevent potential student viewing of objectionable material. The network might be slow or not be working when you need it. Some sites embed ads, and you have no control over the add that get's displayed or the time it takes for your video to begin playing.

Solution? It is possible for a teacher to download one of these videos in FLV format (Flash Video) or MP4 format, bring it into class using a USB flash drive or other media, and play it on your computer using a video player. Remember that the author of the video is the copyright holder, so be sure to follow guidelines for fair use.

Some techniques for downloading online video require the use of software. Others use only online web-based tools.


Video Download Helper in Firefox

You can find free software utilities that can download FLV or MP4 videos but some can also do much more. Perhaps the easiest way to download video is with Video Download Helper. This is a plug-in that works with the Firefox browser to make it very easy to quickly grab a video. First you need to have the Firefox browser installed on your computer:

Once you have Firefox installed on your computer, you can use Firefox to go to the Download Helper page to install the free Video Download Helper plug-in:

Using your Firefox browser with the Video Download Helper installed, you can now go to any site with online video (not just Youtube). While the video you want is playing, use the Download Helper drop-down box to download the video you want.

In the example below, the music video can be downloaded in any of a number of different formats and resolutions. (This will depend on what is available form the web site.) You pause ther video or let it keep playing in your browser while it is being downloaded.

Video download helper

Keep track of where you are saving the video file. You can also change the file name to make it more recognizable.

Note that some content might be protected, preventing Video Download Helper from downloading it.

If you have trouble with Video Download Helper, another browser add-on option is:

1-ClickVideo Download :

or YouTube Video and Audio Downloader :

In Google Chrome, an option is to use the Screencastify extension:

Freemake Video Downloader :
This program is installed on your computer, not just in a browser. It grabs a video that is playing in your web browser, for example, Google Chrome. This may be a simpler and more effective solution, especially if you do not normally use Firefox. This option seems to work quite well.

Web-based downloading

Here are two options:

1. Stream from Youtube: Find your video on YouTube or Google Video or other online video sites. The video will have an address (URL), for example, this is link to a shared video of synchronized fireworks at the Eiffel tower
and another of the running of the bulls in Pamplona

The Share button gives you the URL textbox as seen below; you can use this link to link to the video. Clicking on Embed gives you the textbox containing the code for embedding the video in your own web page. You have to copy & paste the iframe code into your web page source code. You can make several modifications to the code automatically. For instance, you can select a different video size for the video on your page.


<iframe width="853" height="480" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Note that this embedded video gets the actual video file from the Youtube web site, so you do not have to download the video and store it in your own web server space. However, if Youtube is blocked, this will certainly be blocked as well.

Finally, if you are testing your web page locally (not on a server), it is common to have problems if the Youtube video location looks like:


rather than:"

This is easy to fix by adding http: to the beginning of the video address, right before the //.

Stream your own video from Youtube: An excellent way to place your own video on your web site is to upload it to Youtube and embed your own Youtube video into your own web pages. This can have its own drawbacks, of course, where Youtube is blocked for instance. However, this avoids the problem of storing your videos when you have limited server space. Youtube is also likely to do a better job streaming your video. Finally, your web provider might not allow you to stream video from their site.

2. Download Web Site: If you do prefer to download the video to your computer without installing any software, you can use one of the YouTube, Google Video, DailyMotion or other social media download sites. There are many of these, and they tend to change (if one doesn't work, try another).

The web site will have a textbox where you will paste your YouTube (or other) video address (URL). Remember that these look something like the one listed :

Follow the directions to download or get the video and be sure to give the video a meaningful name and save it to a location where you will be able to find it later (perhaps under My Videos). Some sites can download the files in any of a number of video formats (FLV, MP4, 3GP, WebM). MP4 tends to be a good choice. Don't forget that hiding file extensions in Windows Explorer can lead to confusion.

Again, there are lots of these sites:

For some uses (on an iPad or for some software or display environments, you may need to have the video converted from FLV to some other format (AVI, DivX, MOV for Mac, MP4 for iPod/iPad, etc.). Some sites perform both downloading and conversion for you:

Special Players

If you have saved your video as a FLV file, you may need a special media player to play it on your computer. Options can change with time, so use google to find one you like.

VLC Player

However, my favorite free video player for PC & Mac is VLC:

VLC does a great job playing a wide variety of formats. There are Mac, PC & Linux versions. It has lots of great options for teachers including bookmarks and slowing the video. A video played at 66% normal speed can be far easier to comprehend to a non-native (though I certainly would use this technique sparingly).


Make your own

Be creative! You can also make your own videos and upload them to Youtube:

You don't need much in the way of special equipment or skills. Although you could use sophisticate video equipment and software, you could also just use a webcam and any microphone to record your video directly on your computer. You can save your video in a file and then upload it or you can use your webcam to record directly in Youtube. Youtube will convert your video to FLV format. Youtube is currently recommending MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format at 640x480 resolution with MP3 audio, though lower resolution formats will work (e.g. 320x240) and Quicktime MOV is also ok. In order to upload a video, you need a Youtube account.

It's one more way to make your materials available to your students via the Internet. You can put videos there and take them down when you wish.

Here is an overview of uploading video:

Video tutorial for uploading videos to your Youtube account:

Many video editors (such as Windows Live Movie Maker) will have an option for directly uploading your video to Youtube or other sites.

Digital Video Update: YouTube, Flash, High-Definition by Robert Godwin-Jones (Emerging Technologies column in Language Learning and Technology)

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