Spice up your lesson on crime and punishment with You Be the Judge

In this post I’d like to share with you this educational tool I discovered a few years ago, which I love using with my advanced students of English. It’s called You Be The Judge (Australian version: You Be The Judge) and I always use it as complementary material for my classes related to crime and punishment. It’s also a great self-study or teaching resource for students of criminal law.


In a nutshell, You Be the Judge is an interactive guide to sentencing with real life criminal cases where you are put in the place of the judge. As you click on each case, you hear the defendant’s plea, listen to the facts, hear the aggravating and mitigating factors, and it’s your task to decide on the sentence. At the end, you get to see the sentence passed by the judge in the real case and you can compare it to yours.

Each case is divided up into handy, little parts and each part is followed by a question related to its content. As the students listen to more and more facts being presented about each case, they try to decide on the sentence that would best match the crime. A transcript of the video content is also available for those who might need it.


I love You Be the Judge as there is a great deal of useful language to be learnt and a lot of fun to be had. I find my students thoroughly enjoy role-playing the judge and the whole lesson has them completely engrossed from start to finish. There is a good reason why crime series are so popular on TV and crime novels are usually the best selling book genre. We all enjoy a bit of crime drama, don’t we? The best way to go about using this tool is to first introduce the students to the target language used in the video such as magistrate court, crown court, the defendant, to plead, mitigating factors, aggravating factors, etc. You might also want to have a discussion beforehand about sentencing and the system of punishment used in their country/countries. Finally let the classroom transform into a courtroom and You Be The Judge.