How to Improve Your Second Language Listening and Speaking with YouTube?

digital tech listening speaking Apr 19, 2021
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Although watching live TV and radio programmes can be fun and helps to train your ear, using recorded material presents two major advantages. You have a much greater choice of the topic you are watching/listening to;  you can pause and replay whenever you want. Founded in 2005, YouTube has now become the No. 1 video search engine in the world. You can find YouTube videos on practically any topic these days. The videos on YouTube were recorded and uploaded by YouTubers, so viewers can watch them at any time and pace. From a language learning perspective, this is a great because it offers the flexibility for self-paced learning and you have the freedom to choose any topic that interests you. In fact, many of you may already use YouTube for language learning.

So how do you use YouTube for language learning? Do you find it useful as a language learner? Is there a way to use it more effectively? The answer is YES! Whilst many YouTube videos are excellent resources for language learning, not all of them are suitable for independent learning (learning a language on your own). In this blog post, I will suggest two very useful tools that will take your language learning to the next level!

One of my favourite YouTube channels is Easy Languages , a non-profit project that helps people learn a second language through authentic street interviews. The languages they teach cover European languages, Asian languages, languages of Latin America and African languages. If you are learning some of these languages, you should definitely check out their channel. The videos are suitable for learners of different language levels. There is a specific topic in each episode. I especially like the spontaneity and colloquial expressions I learn by watching Easy German and Easy French. I also like the fact that most of their videos provide closed captions in both the local language and in English. Not only does it improve your understanding of the connections between your first language and your second language, it also reinforces the positive transfer between them.

Wordlab is another very powerful website. It contains an excellent collection of YouTube channels in all the 47 major languages. As of April 2021, there are 140 channels for learning English, 698 channels for learning Spanish, 652 channels for learning French and 416 channels for learning German, just to name a few. The list keeps growing and growing. On the website, you’ll find the title and a short description of the channels. You’ll also see how many subscribers they have and the percentage of closed captions. Moreover, I highly recommend downloading their FREE Chrome extension. The extension adds dual language subtitles, popup dictionary, precise video playback controls to YouTube videos. As a language learner, these are all the tools you need to quickly improve your listening and speaking. The extension also lets you search words with just one click, colour code them, save them, and recommends the best words to learn. If you are an intermediate or advanced learner who are looking for authentic listening materials, you should definitely take a look at Wordlab!

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