Social networking sites: lesson ideas

Мария Цедрик

Сертифицированный преподаватель (TKT 2,3, YL, CELTA, IELTS, TOEFL)

Teenagers spend an enormous amount of time watching youtube videos and chatting with friends on online social networks. The study focused on data from nearly 12,000 children aged 13 to 15 from across the UK shows that the average teenager spent one to three hours on social media every day. In this article, we have collected some ideas on how to use students “hobby” in lessons. This lesson materials will help your students learn more about Youtube, its story of success and how it can help in learning English. 

  • Lead-in 

Start the lesson with the discussion of what students use the Internet for. Then write the categories on the board and elicit examples of each type of website and what students might use them for. 

▶ Search engine —   

▶ Travel site —  

▶ Rating site —  

▶ News site —  

▶ Photo sharing website —  

▶ Social networking site — 


Search engine — Google, Yandex — find information quickly 

Travel site — Booking, Aviasales, — book a holiday, hotel, flights 

Rating site — TripAdvisor, Kinopoisk —  find out whether something (cafe, film, book, etc.)  is good or not

News site — find out what is happening in the world

Photo sharing website — Instagram* — show your photos and videos

Social networking site — Facebook*, Vkontakte, Snapchat, Instagram*, YouTube — contact friends

Then ask students what sites they use most frequently and explain that today you’re going to talk about YouTube and discuss how it works and how it was created.

Additional Information: 

According to Digital Information World, the most popular social networks are Facebook*, YouTube, Instagram*, Twitter and others. 

  • How YouTube was created

Every teenager knows YouTube, they watch YouTube bloggers, want to become as famous as successful as they are. Your students will be glad to find out the history of YouTube.

To generate the interest in the topic, ask your students to discuss the following questions in pairs:

  1. How often do you watch YouTube videos?
  2. What vloggers do you follow? 
  3. What channels do you watch most frequently? 
  4. What makes YouTube so popular?
  5. What makes a video viral? 

What do you know about YouTube:

  1. Who created YouTube? 
  2. When and where was YouTube created? 
  3. Why did the founders try to create that platform? 
  4. What was the first YouTube video («Me at the Zoo») like? 

While discussing questions 4 — 5 elicit such phrases as “features, upload videos, links to the videos, tell-a-friend functions, user-friendly”. 

Discuss questions 6 -9 open class, encourage students to guess the answers. Then play the video for students to check their guesses. 


6) Three ex PayPal employees Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. 

7) In 2005, in Silicon Vallet (the USA). 

8) They wanted to set up a new business. They came up with the idea of making it easier to share personal videos with friends. 

9) It was a 20-sec video of Jawed Karim at San Diego Zoo. Jawed Karim was standing in front of the elephants and talking about their trunks. 

3) The secret of success 

Ask students to think about why YouTube has become so successful. Then students should read the text below and check their guesses. 

Did you know YouTube was 1) ______ by three 2) ______  PayPal employees and was originally a 3) ______ ?

YouTube was created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The logo, website domain and trademark for YouTube were registered on 14th February 2005, with the original idea for it to be an online dating website. Users would be able to 4) ______ of them introducing themselves and saying what they were interested in, but the idea didn’t take off and the co-founders soon pivoted YouTube to become a more general video sharing site. The site was an instant success. The key was a number of 5)______ :  6)______ to the videos, which made them easy to send to other people; tell-a-friend functions; features that allow users to comment on the videos. This helped to develop the site’s sense of community: it became a place where people 7)______ videos, chat, complain and discuss something. 

YouTube began life when Jawed Karim uploaded the first ever video on the platform in April, showing him attending a 8) ______ with elephants in the background. In September 2005, YouTube got its first one million-hit video. The video was a Nike 9) ______ starring a Brazilian footballer, Ronaldinho, that went viral. Nike was also one of the first major companies to embrace YouTube’s promotional potential. 

Google saw the potential in YouTube and acquired the video-sharing site for $1.65 billion in October 2006. YouTube launched its Partner Program to let people get paid for their 10)______ content in May 2007. This was the first time YouTube made it possible for everyday people to turn their hobbies into a business. About a year later, the most successful 11) ______ were earning six-figure incomes from YouTube, The New York Times reported in 2008

In December 2012, a video received a billion views for the first time. Since then YouTube has continued to grow and is now the second most popular website in the world.

After reading the text students should complete the gaps. You can provide the list of words to weak students: links, zoo, ad (advert/advertisement/commercial), dating site, users, features, viral,  former, created, upload videos, post. 


  1. created 
  2. former
  3. dating site
  4. upload videos 
  5. features
  6. links 
  7. post
  8. zoo 
  9. ad 
  10. viral 
  11. users

4) YouTube helps to study English

Set a project: ask students to explore YouTube, search on the Internet and find the best channels for learning English. 

Alternatively, you can provide a list of channels from this article. Ask students to watch several videos, rank the channels or write short reviews. 

*Instagram belongs to Meta Platforms Inc., whose activities are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation.
*Facebook belongs to Meta Platforms Inc., whose activities are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation.

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