Have you ever started to watch videos online, relaxing in your PJs (pajamas)…
…and then all of a sudden realize two hours have gone by?
Watching videos can become addicting, but you can use that to help you to learn English.
But, how can you use videos to learn or improve your English, and which videos should you start with?
That’s exactly what I’ll show you here, so let’s get started with some benefits of using videos to learn English.
The Benefits of Learning English with Videos
While watching, the video catches your full attention and can sometimes take you into another world. This is very important, because in that moment, the voices and the sounds coming from the screen are all you’re focusing on.
In other words, there is full immersion, and that is what we want to reach as learners—especially if it’s hard to fully immerse ourselves in English during our daily activities.
Almost Unlimited Content
One of the beautiful things about the internet is that it is unbelievably large. It’s so large that no human could ever imagine learning everything in it, because it would take forever.
That said, there is also an almost unlimited amount of video content, which means immersion is always available. All of this content can be found through different websites, including the videos right here on FluentU.
There Is a Video for Everything
We all have different interests, and lots of people have shared their interests through videos on the internet. Because of this, there is practically a video for everything. You must take advantage of this, because you will learn English faster if you are watching something that you’re interested in.
How to Use Videos to Learn English
Write Words You Hear
Ok, try this: Before you watch a video, pull out a piece of paper and a pen. As the speaker is talking, see how many words you can write down—while still understanding what they are saying.
This game is difficult, but you will see improvement in your writing and listening very quickly. To improve this activity, you could try to read the words aloud after you have written them.
Watch Videos on FluentU
FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Videos are organized by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.)—so you can easily browse and find something perfect for your level and interests.
Every word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences for easy learning and understanding. You can even click on a word to see how it’s used in other videos across the site. (Say goodbye to spending hours searching for good videos on YouTube!)
But that’s not all. FluentU also has a unique “learn mode,” where it takes videos and turns them into language learning lessons. “Learn mode” asks questions based on what you know, which sets you up for success. FluentU is an amazing way to learn English with entertaining, real-life videos.
Learn What Is Important
You will always encounter words and phrases in videos that you might not know. So you need to have a strategy for what to do when those words are said. A great tool is to have that pen and paper out, and write words you don’t understand.
However, only write the words that confuse the meaning of the sentence because it doesn’t help to write down every new word. If you can understand what the person is saying, even if you don’t know a word, then don’t worry about writing it down. Focus on what is making the sentence hard to understand and you will quickly find the most useful vocabulary to learn.
Use TED Talks Resources
Some of the videos below are TED talks. These videos in particular are very useful because they focus on one person who is speaking. I recommend these videos for future use because of how helpful they can be.
TED talks have other advantages as well. For example, below every video is a discussion that users have about the particular video. So, after watching, you can also practice your writing and reading. With that, you also have access to interactive transcripts of the entire TED talk!
This is simply incredible, because you have everything right there in writing. Even better, you can choose to translate the video back into your native language so that you can fully understand what was said. Other features include subtitles in many different languages. You can even choose to have subtitles in English so that you can read as the speaker is talking.
10 Must-watch Videos That Inform, Entertain and Inspire
And now, here’s my list of 10 videos that I find useful, entertaining and inspiring. They are just suggestions to get you started; it’s up to you to find content that you can fully enjoy.
English Videos That Inform
1. “Just Forget It! The Secret of Learning New Words” by Luca Lampariello
Luca Lampariello is a polyglot, which means that he can speak many languages—so he has lots of experience learning them. In this video he explains his methods for remembering new words. He goes very deep into this subject by talking about how the brain learns new words and how it uses them in conversation.
This process is a lot more difficult than we think, and he does an awesome job explaining it. Although Luca is Italian, his accent in English is very understandable, so you shouldn’t have too many problems.
2. “Learn English – 4 Ways to Understand What You Hear” by JamesESL
Understanding what you hear is absolutely essential to learning English, but sometimes it can be a hard task to overcome. In JamesESL’s video he talks about tips for listening better.
He says we should listen instead of think because if you are always thinking about what someone just said, you will completely miss the rest of what they say.
3. “Tips to Learn and Remember a New English Vocabulary Daily” by Niharika with LetsTalk Podcast
Lists can be a great way to organize important things. They provide structure and make things easier to visualize. Niharika does a great job of providing of list of tips for learning new English words.
More importantly, she gives tips on learning new English words every day, which is so important to become fluent in English.
4. “Basic English Grammar – Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb” by EnglishLessons4U
Language has many important parts, mostly nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. They are such an essential part of English, so you need to know them very well.
This video does a great job of explaining their meanings and different ways to use each in a sentence. I recommend going back to this video in the future to review nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs because of how important they are.
English Videos That Entertain
The above videos are very informative, but sometimes they can be boring, so you need to find fun videos that keep your interest. Make learning English an entertaining activity, otherwise it will become something that is lower and lower on your to-do list.
Below I have some videos that I found entertaining, and I think you will too.
5. “American Polyglot Practicing 20 Languages” by Tim Doner
Tim Doner show us his passion for language learning in this video where he speaks 20 languages! His ability to learn and be able to use so many different languages is truly incredible.
The languages include French, German, Swahili and even Ojibwe (a Native American language). This video entertained me because I found it fascinating that Tim uses so many languages in just a short amount of time.
6. “Beatbox Brilliance” by Tom Thumb
Coming in at one of the most viewed TED talks of all time, Tom Thumb from Australia talks about what he does for money: making noises with his mouth.
There is never a dull moment in this video and because Tom is from Australia, you will hear an interesting accent in between the awesome and interesting sounds that he makes.
7. “The Art of Misdirection” by Apollo Robbins
Apollo Robbins grabs your attention right from the start and then blows your mind, leaving you wanting to rewatch this video over and over again.
One thing I especially like about this video for English learners is that Robbins talks like you would in a normal conversation, switching from slow and fast speaking, which is great practice when preparing for the real world.
English Videos That Inspire
Finally, videos that inspire are also ones that entertain, but they entertain us in a different kind of way. They captivate us and they tell a story, or they motivate us to achieve more. But ultimately, they give us the inspiration to finish the task, whatever it may be.
8. “Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career” by Larry Smith
We all have things we like to do, but some of us have found things that we love and that we are passionate about. Larry Smith talks about this topic and beautifully explains the importance of finding your passion and going after it.
Some of the vocabulary is a little more advanced, so I would advise having a pen and paper in front of you before watching.
9. “3 Ways to Speak English” by Jamila Lyiscott
I must warn you before watching this video, the speech is a lot more difficult to understand, so don’t be afraid to stop the video and go back and rewatch parts.
Even I, a native speaker, had to go back to catch something Jamila said—but that’s ok! Use this video as something to really learn from instead of something that you’ll never understand, because I promise you’ll get it.
10. “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer
Making connections with others is so important. Amanda talks about this, as well as her experience meeting tons of new people in her career as a human statue on the street.
Eventually, her career as a musician took off. This means she became successful and she didn’t have to work on the street anymore, but she was inspired from her days as a street performer and shares what she’s learned.
There are a lot of ways to learn English, and videos are just one of them, but it works really well to help you improve quickly.
All in one sitting, you could practice listening, reading, writing and speaking with just a few videos. So get out there and start finding some videos that interest you! If all goes well, you’ll reach English fluency faster than you thought possible.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.