Hampstead teacher proves a hit with educational YouTube videos

A HAMPSTEAD teacher is fast becoming an internet sensation after clocking up more than half a million viewers for his educational videos.

Christopher Thorne, a year one teacher at The Phoenix School, in College Crescent, has gained recognition on the YouTube video-sharing website having uploaded more than 200 videos over the past year.

But far from the realm of laughing babies, sneezing pandas or the usual wacky YouTube video fare, Mr Thorne is out to prove the internet can be the perfect medium for his art form – phonics.

The 27-year-old, who one viewer described as ‘the Calvin Harris of Key Stage One’, has created a free Mr Thorne Does Phonics YouTube channel to help teach English through the sounds of letters.

“I used to be a phonics teacher for the local authority and I went to a training conference about phonics about four years ago,” he said.

“I found the idea of the letter sounds and the way of teaching them really interesting so I put a basic video up on YouTube which has now had almost 250,000 hits.

“At Christmas time last year I thought it was time to do some more. One video became two, and two became three, and it escalated and now there are over 200.

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“I started with the letter A and then B and so on and then I moved onto tricky words and word blends and all sorts of stuff. It’s just grown from there.”

The videos are aimed at anyone from parents and children looking for extra reading help, to teachers using them in class and people learning English as a foreign language.

But Mr Thorne says the success of his YouTube channel, which he tries to add videos to every couple of days, has surpassed anything he could have imagined.

“It seems to have worked wonders,” he said.

“I have had so much interest which has been wonderful. I have had messages from all around the world. One person from Brazil told me they were using it for people developing their English over there.

“Parents have been in touch asking if I can give their son or daughter a shout out on YouTube.

“Such a range of people have responded to the videos and it has spurred me on.

“I enjoy making them and people enjoy watching them. It’s nice that all the hard work is paying off.

“I just do it to make teaching and learning more enjoyable. If it’s helpful for other people I am happy to share knowledge because it’s what education is all about – passing knowledge on.”

As he gains more exposure, Mr Thorne says he is hoping doors may be opened to take his phonics expertise further into he world of television or DVD.

“If someone saw my videos and said ‘come and read a story on CBeebies’ that would be fantastic,” he said. “It’s something I would be interested in doing if the opportunity came my way, but at the moment it’s just a hobby.

“If anything came up to be a literacy or phonics expert I would love to do that. Phonics is where my heart lies – helping kids to read.”

To watch Mr Thorne Does Phonics visit www.youtube.com/user/breakthruchris

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