Creating subtitles in YouTube

Ingredients: YouTube, text editor or word processor

If you want to create subtitles for a video there is a variety of ways you can do that ranging from using professional subtitling software to using web 2.0 services like YouTube subtitled. Surprisingly the most convenient way of creating subtitles is within YouTube itself.

YouTube provides automatic transcription, which is far from perfect however (yet, this feature might still be useful for language learners!). So, the best option is to upload the subtitles.  
You can upload a caption or subtitle file in

Edit video/captions and subtitles

If you find working with time code easy you can provide a caption file (which includes the time code). There is a simpler alternative, however, i.e. merely uploading a text file which contains the transcription. YouTube automatically assigns the time code to the subtitles. Even though it does a pretty good job there might be some passages which are not completely synchronous.
Simply download the caption file created by YouTube (captions.sbv) and tweak the time code in a text editor or word processing software. The final step is to upload the file back to YouTube, this time using the caption file option.

The time-coded file is quite easy to edit as all you need to do is change the vales of the time code, which are separated by a comma (start and end position of the subtitle). Example:

ever touch that. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is a
type of squash. There is also cranberries,

but on Thanksgiving you don’t eat them like
the fruit, they are turned into a kind of

jelly and you put that on the turkey.

Subtitles can be used in a variety of way in the classroom. The obvious use is simply to facilitate comprehension. I usually show a video twice: first without subtitles and a question worksheet or gap text exercise and the second time with subtitles for filling in the missing parts in the worksheet.

Here is an example of a video which I created by recording a native speaker in a classroom and then adding animated pictures.

An alternative would be to have the students create subtitles for a video themselves. This is a great way to improve listening skills. It is also possible to use the subtitles to jump to the corresponding passage in the video if the "interactive transcript" button is turned on (new version of YouTube). 

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