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How to look at the Tell me a tale videos

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

by revel arroway

Looping on YouTube

I’ll admit it, the closest I come to “social” on Internet is what I call “looping” on YouTube. No FaceBook (or Meta?), no LinkedIn, no MySpace (does that one even exist anymore?).

Every day, after lunch, I settle onto the sofa and open YouTube on my tablet. I pick the first video from my home page that catches my interest and start it up. I skip the ads and watch the video. When it’s over, I scroll the videos in the list to the right or go back to the home page and choose another. I loop this way until either I fall asleep for the siesta or it’s time to go make a cup of coffee and begin my afternoon activities.

This is not how Tell me a tale should be used. Our videos may sometimes be fun, interesting, entertaining, but they were not made to be watched and forgotten, they are tools for language practice.

The videos

Our video content is reverse engineered.

If you watch a video that was created to highlight, say, the “third conditional” (remember? “If I had seen him, I would have told him.”), you’ll end up seeing a fairly awkward story that includes half-a-dozen examples of the “third conditional”. That certainly shows you different sentences in the “third conditional”. This is telling a story beginning from a grammar point, something you’ve seen again and again in your studies up to now.

Instead of choosing a grammar point or set of expressions that we want to teach you, we’ve chosen topics that we want to tell stories about. This is an important difference.

Even though many of the stories have a script, they are not about a grammar theme. They are about things that we have experienced in our lives, often related to experiences that you may have on moving to an English-speaking country.

We then take a look at those stories and discover the grammar, expressions and culture that is in the story. We highlight these points in our blog posts on the video. You can practice those in the mini-lessons we offer you as a prize for subscribing to the blog.

But I digress, I’ll talk about the blog and the mini-lessons in the future.

The first view

When you get notice that there is a new video available on Tell me a tale (new videos are available every Monday morning at 8:00 am EST), go take a look at it. They are really short, around two minutes each video, you’ve got the time.

All of the videos have captions, so if you turn those on, that may help you catch everything we’re saying in our stories. While you’re watching the video, make a mental note to yourself to come back to it later on in the day when you’ve got a little more time to study the language.

Be pro-active

Make sure you’ve got about 30 minutes available for study for this part.

  • Watch the video again, but don’t use the captions. Ask yourself, “Did I understand the video this time?

  • Watch the video again, this time with the captions on.

  • Go to the description of the video and click on the link that takes you to the blog post.

  • Spend some time reading the blog post and following the links we’ve included with definitions and additional material.

  • Remember to subscribe to the blog to get access to the mini-lessons.

You’ve done it!

Congratulations, you’ve jump-started some important study habits.

Speaking a new language with ease will involve accumulating habits in that language. If you set up regular study habits as we suggest, you’ll also be setting yourself up for learning the habits of speaking the language. These habits are built into the language and are just as important to learn as vocabulary and grammar.

For the first few videos that you watch, just take it easy and follow the video instructions I just outlined. That shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes and you have all week to find those 30 minutes.

I’ll be back with some suggestions for building habits with the blog and the mini-lessons that will expand on the source of all this language practice, the videos. In the meantime, enjoy our videos and begin to be regular in how you watch them.


revel arroway

linguistic manager


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