Moving with the Times: A Cool Movie Clip-Based App

I’ve been recommending YouGlish as a listening and pronunciation tool for quite some time. It’s wonderful to hear different speech models and consider the various contexts a word or phrase is used in. However, the search results don’t include movies, TV shows, or music videos. What if there were a similar app that did include those sources?

Well, I found one, but there’s a catch. I stumbled upon GetYarn quite recently. I had to explore the content and features a bit to understand what the app was built for and how it still might suit my purposes. Similar to YouGlish, you can type in a word or a phrase. You’ll then get a multitude of video clips with that isolated word or phrase.

The good news: Working with the search results, you can click through clips to hear a word or phrase said multiple times by various speech models. This trains the ear to hear variations and consider the generally accepted pronunciation. In this way, the experience is similar to YouGlish. A key difference is that the yarns are designed for sharing and embedding, so a teacher could easily present a piece of authentic language (an idiom, a phrasal verb, reduced speech, etc.) to students in or out of class.

The bad news: Yarns are meant to liven up text chats. This means users can’t view the whole context in a fluid manner as you would on YouGlish or YouTube. If you click on one yarn, it opens into a larger viewer. To watch more of a scene before and after the key phrase, you have to click forward and back arrows. The player gives you yarns, one line at a time. This makes for a choppy viewing experience. Also, although captions are available, a full transcript isn’t; transcripts are a feature that I appreciate on YouGlish.

More good news: GetYarn allows users to filter the results. You can limit the yarns to movie clips, TV shows, or music videos. Let’s say you choose to watch only movie clips. You can then use the advanced filter for these settings: genres, decades, ratings (PG, PG-13, R, etc.), movie titles, people (actors), and characters.

Why use these sources as speech models? GetYarn pulls language from familiar and appealing sources within the entertainment world.  This is a big plus for young learners who say they want to hear “real English,” which often equates to the informal English they hear in movies, TV shows, and music videos. YouGlish has its share of TedTalks, presidential addresses, TV interviews, and lectures. Don’t get me wrong; that’s real English too. There are plenty of good models found on YouGlish, and it’s convenient to have the filters for American, Australian, and British English. But truthfully, more conversational phrases may be sparse or absent from the findings. In contrast, I got many results on GetYarn for expressions like, “Can we talk about this later?” — which I taught as part of my recent series on conversational expressions. When it comes to more informal and conversational speech, my YouTube viewers can now have additional practice through GetYarn.

Warnings: GetYarn is accessible on a PC. I tried to download the app, but something weird happened on my iPhone and I couldn’t open the app. I read in the reviews that someone else had a similar problem, so I will caution mobile device users. If possible, try the web-based version first. Also, the nature of these sources opens the door to more profanity. You can find four-letter words on YouGlish too, but swearing openly and freely is certainly more common in the entertainment industry than, say, in academic lectures and political forums. Use the ratings filter.

The bottom line: GetYarn offers a new listening and pronunciation resource ESL that teachers and learners can tap into. I’ll be curious to see if the quiz feature expands in the future. I for one would love to have the ability to design my own quizzes using different yarns!

How would you use GetYarn?

Photo credit: Cinema, Movie, Theater, Movies, Input by Michael Gaida. Retrieved from the Public Domain at

5 Comments Add yours

  1. 陆河 says:

    Thank you very much! I love it! It’s so helpful and fun!

    1. Enjoy experimenting with it! 🙂

  2. jack says:

    I’m so tired of seeing this GetYearn crap cluttering my video search results. Wish Google had a way to block certain sites we don’t want in our video search results like being able to filter out GetYearn altogether. I only want to go to YouTube videos because I have an account with them & its way more streamlined than GetYearn. GetYearn is just an annoying wannabe version of YouTube. I hate GetYarn mainly because of the lack of being able to comment on a video which was the main reason I started a Google account & I don’t want to setup a GetYarn account when I already have a YouTube/Google account.

    1. Hi. When I search for videos, I search either on YouTube or I go to YouGlish. My Google searches are mainly for text-based results, and I filter for News or even Books to make sure I get language from reputable sources. I can certain sympathize, though, with the fact that you can’t filter out sources. I just checked and there are multiple tutorials on how to block any site (on Chrome, on a mobile phone, etc.) Why not try that route? Good luck!

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