4 Ways in Which You Can Learn Languages with YouTube
As a Spanish and English teacher, I am always asked the same questions. “Can I improve my speaking skills by playing video games?” Can I achieve a great accent just by listening to music and singing along to the songs? Today, we are going to answer one such question: Can you learn languages with YouTube?
Of course the answer is a big YES! If you know where to look, there are an array of useful resources on YouTube. From subtitled classics of international cinema to foreign influencers who love to share their knowledge and culture for free, here are five ways in which you can learn languages with YouTube.
1. Disney Sing-Alongs
I vividly remember being 8 years old and mistakenly renting a sing-along version of Aladdin that was all music and no story. At the time, I was furious. 26 years later, I believe these videos are great resources for learners who’re looking for a light, entertaining approach to language practice. Of course, today you don’t need to rent a VHS or a DVD. Instead, you can look up the title of the movie and the song you want to hear. But do it in the language you would like to practice! And get ready to give the performance of your life!
Let’s say, for example, that you want to practice Part of your World, your favorite song from The Little Mermaid, in French. All you have to do is type the name of the song and the target language on YouTube, and voilà. You can now enjoy one of Disney’s most iconic tunes while learning French.
Benefits of learning languages with Disney Sing-Alongs:
- By singing along to tunes you know by heart, you can focus on the language without having to divide your attention into two different skills.
- Learning languages with Youtube music videos is beneficial because music (especially music that has a special place in your emotional life) is much more memorable than random words or dialogues.
- Singing along to subtitled videos is a great way to become aware of how foreign words are spelled vs. how they are pronounced.
2. Foreign Films with Subtitles
Do you enjoy sitting back and watching a good movie while having a drink or eating your way through a tub of popcorn? If the answer is a big YES, you are in luck. Watching films with subtitles can be an excellent way to learn languages with YouTube.
Would you like to learn Spanish? Enter the term “Spanish language movies with subtitles” and see what comes up! You’ll be surprised at how many great films you can watch for free on this platform.
Oh, and if you don’t know where to begin, here’s a suggestion.
Tesis sobre un homicidio (Thesis on a Homicide), an Argentinean film with the always formidable Ricardo Darín, is a thriller about a law professor trying to solve a mysterious murder that will take your breath away.
Benefits of learning languages with subtitled foreign films:
- By watching foreign films, you can learn a lot of natural, authentic language that you don’t often learn in traditional courses. This includes slang, idioms, and regional expressions.
- Since movies are usually around 120 minutes long, you’ll have plenty of time to get used to the sound of the language, the musicality of the accent, and even learn a few recurring words that the characters may use throughout the film.
- Films are a great way to learn a language within a cultural context, as the customs and values of different countries are always portrayed in the story even if indirectly.
3. The Comment Section of your Favorite Videos
Of course, learning a language is not just about listening (or singing!). Being a productive skill, writing is an essential part of language acquisition.
That’s why the comments section of your favorite videos can be a great way to learn languages with YouTube.
Whether you are commenting on a documentary film, a celebrity clip, or a scene from a TV show, you’ll be able to learn a lot from other people’s comments and replying to them.
For instance, if you’re learning Italian, you can look up a song by the popular pop singer Tiziano Ferro and share with other fans how the lyrics made you feel.
Benefits of writing comments in the target language
- Very often, the problem with writing tasks is that they lack a clear purpose or audience. When you write a comment on YouTube, you do it to engage with a real audience because you want to share a real opinion, idea, or feeling.
- Writing a comment is a great way to learn vocabulary because there is genuine motivation to find the right words to express yourself.
- By interacting with native and non-native speakers of the target language, you’ll take part in discussions that will make you aware of informal expressions. These include common abbreviations, and other features of the language that you wouldn’t learn in a textbook.
4. Foreign YouTubers
Watching foreign YouTubers is another great way to learn new languages with YouTube, especially if you’re an advanced learner who wants to complement your formal learning with further exposure to the target language.
Since YouTubers are often more casual and direct in their language than traditional teachers, watching their videos is a great way to learn the language in its most natural form.
But, how will you know who is the best YouTuber for you? Easy. If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner who wants to practice their listening skills while doing housework or working out, the best thing you can do is look for people who speak about the things you care about. You know, things you could spend hours hearing about in your own language.
Whether it’s yoga, Harry Styles, or Greek literature, you’ll learn more if you are passionate about the topics!
Benefits of learning languages with a foreign YouTuber
- The main benefit of learning a language with a foreign YouTuber is that you learn the it in its natural, up-to-date form. Being mostly millennials and centennials, YouTubers will use LOTS of idiomatic expressions. What’s more, they will make mistakes without feeling they have to apologize for them! And they’ll use non-standard expressions based on media, technology, and celebrity culture.
- Foreign YouTubers allow you to do two things at the same time. First, learn a new language. Second, enjoy the content that you find interesting or fun!
- Just like singers, YouTubers often do “collabs”. If you subscribe to a YouTuber’s channel and you check all of their posts, you’ll soon discover many other YouTubers who speak that language. That way, you’ll learn different accents and understand the regional characteristics of a language.
Can you learn languages with YouTube?
So, can you learn languages with YouTube? Absolutely! From listening to the lyrics of your favorite songs, to interacting with other viewers in the comment section or watching foreign YouTubers, YouTube can be an effective and fun way to learn a new language. All you need is practice, persistence, and the right attitude!
However, it’s important to bear something in mind. While music videos and subtitled films are great learning companions, the most effective way to learn a language is still to combine them with formal learning and regular practice sessions. This way, you’ll get the most out of your language-learning journey.
At Listen & Learn, we offer language learning courses that combine the best of formal and informal learning. With our interactive activities, certified teachers, and personalized feedback from native-speaking teachers, you’ll learn a language in no time! Sign up for one of our courses today and start your language-learning journey.