Youtube is the number one video sharing platform worldwide. There’s a reason for that; it’s rich with great and versatile content uploaded by users themselves. There’s too many videos to watch about too vast an array of topics, that there’s something worth watching for any user.
Language learning videos are no exception. There’s hundreds of video tutorials for almost any language. Basic phrases, alphabets and pronunciation, survival phrases, complete tutorials, how to deal with exams… Whatever language you’re learning, you’ll most definitely find an interesting video tutorial to follow.
But is that all you can do to learn a language on YouTube?
Youtube offers you a ton more than just language-specific tutorial videos. In fact, you can use almost any video on YouTube to improve all of your language learning skills. Provided that it’s in your target language.
Let’s see how you can make the most of Youtube in practice.
LEARNING FROM YOUTUBE VIDEOS
There are countless videos you can find with English subtitles. These are mostly documentaries or how-to videos, but it could be any video, as long as you press on the “Subtitles” icon and check whether there are subtitles for it.
The most helpful thing you could do is find videos in your target language with subtitles in the same language. That way you can both read and listen to your target language, and pause the video to copy any interesting phrases you can find, or simply read the subtitles anytime you don’t understand what you hear. Just make sure you don’t choose the automatically generated ones, as these subtitles haven’t been corrected by a human and tend to be off.
If you would like to study a video in more detail, or hear an audio version of it on the go, you could simply download the audio version of the video using y2mate, as well as the subtitles using savesubs.com, so that you have listening material as well as their transcripts.
But what if you can’t find any interesting video with subtitles in your target language?
All is not lost.
HOW ABOUT… YOUTUBE COMMENTS?
Videos aren’t all there is to YouTube. In fact, there’s so much more that most people who use YouTube to learn languages omit:
YouTube video comments!
This is a very useful free language resource if you want to learn how to use the language exactly like native speakers. Choose any video in your target language that’s meant for native speakers, and read the comments below. You’ll see how native speakers use your target language in day-to-day situations, and discover a lot of slang along the way.
Also, as you probably have noticed by now, most YouTube comments are by people arguing with each other, so chances are you will also learn how to argue in your target language the way natives do!
True, there might be people who misspell the language on YouTube, so you may think that this is not a reliable source for new language material.
But the things you can gain from it are far more than what you can lose from it. Besides, there are solutions for any poorly written word or phrase.
There will most likely be another comment there somewhere, of some other user correcting the original commentator, asking them to learn to spell.
Even if that’s not the case, you can take any phrase from the comments and put it on HiNative, for native speakers to correct any misspelling or unnatural usage.
That way you’ll make sure any phrase you want to learn from a YouTube comment is correctly written as well as natural-sounding, so you can learn it by adding it to your Goldlist, for example.
HOW ABOUT… YOUR OWN YOUTUBE COMMENTS?
To take a step further and improve your writing skills as well, you could even write your own comments under videos, in your target language.
This will put all your skills to the test, as people will be able to read your comment in public. But, just like learning from YouTube comments, there’s a lot you can gain from doing that.
- You’ll use your target language in public, so that you gain more confidence
- If you’re unsure of your language skills, you can write that it’s not your native language and even ask to be corrected, thereby learning even more
- If people like your comment, it can boost your confidence and feeling of achievement. People agree with you in your target language!
If anyone judges you or tells you off for making mistakes, just write another comment and tell them it’s not your mother tongue and you’re trying to learn it. It’s highly likely that they will change their mind and praise you instead. If they don’t, no worries. That is their problem, not yours, as they probably don’t speak any other language besides their own, or were also harshly judged at some point for their language skills. Don’t let any negative comments let you down. A negative comment isn’t as important as getting better in your language and gaining more and more confidence by exposing your skills to the world.
HOW ABOUT… UPLOADING YOUR OWN VIDEO?
So far we’ve seen ways you can improve your listening, reading, vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills. But what if you want to improve your speaking skills?
If you want to take a step further and you’re feeling confident enough, you can even upload your own video speaking in your target language. If you do that, you’ll also improve your speaking skills on YouTube. Native speakers may even give you feedback on what to improve, or praise your language skills, thereby boosting your confidence.
It’s a very effective way of simulating real-life speaking circumstances, as speaking in your target language in front of a camera is different than just talking to yourself; it makes you a lot more nervous and alert so that you can say all you want to say without pausing for too long.
You can post a video as often as every week, and hold yourself accountable to other learners. A participant of one of our Autodidacts’ Academies did exactly that and saw both her language skills and her confidence skyrocket. Even though she was very nervous in front of the camera, she chose to challenge herself weekly and the results were beyond what she could imagine.
If this seems too challenging for you, you can start posting private videos first, just so that you get more and more comfortable speaking in your target language in front of a camera. Whenever you feel ready, you can set them to public, or you can keep them private so that you track your progress in the language.
As you see, you can use YouTube to improve each and every one of your skills. If you use the site every day, consider spending at least a small amount of time learning your target language, and you’ll definitely see results if you keep at it every day.
No matter what your priorities or your learning goals are, YouTube is there to help 🙂
We’re very interested to know how you use YouTube to learn languages. Have you found any interesting channels worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.