The common path to learning a language is well worn.
You study. You practice. You study again. You practice again.
If you’re a more intrepid language learner, sometimes you feel like doing something new and exciting—something off the beaten path.
There may not be a map to guide you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your way!
Using technology to learn a language is a popular route to follow. There are lots of great sources for language learning videos out there. Plus, they’re super addictive. You sit down to watch one and, before you know it, it’s midnight and you’ve missed the season premiere of “The Walking Dead.”
Regardless of your learning needs or degree of attachment to technology, there are some terrific videos out there for you. You can use videos to improve your vocabulary, grammar and other skills, making them a well-rounded learning tool.
And luckily, there are lots of video resources out there, meaning you never have to follow the well-worn path. You can forge your own way and still find your way to fluency.
Why Language Videos Are Goldmines
One reason why you’ll never have too many language videos in your life is that hearing different speakers is an important way to hear your target language in a real-world context. Each speaker sounds different. Variations can occur due to gender, regional origin or just personal speaking styles.
If you haven’t listened to a wide variety of people who speak your target language, you may struggle to understand native speakers in real life. The more accents and regional variations you expose yourself to now, the more likely you’ll be able to understand any possible variations you may encounter.
Plus, watching videos helps you improve a wide variety of skills like pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and speaking skills. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
Finally, watching videos is often more engaging than textbook study. Videos incorporate the use of both images and audio and are much more engaging since they use both senses.
6 Unique Sources for Language Learning Videos That Are Off the Beaten Path
Looking for a less-common language learning option? Innovative Language has your back with 34 different language offerings.
Innovative Language is a subscription service that offers downloadable lessons that use videos—most notably its popular LanguagePod101 series. These lessons focus on getting you to speak right away through practical examples.
However, you can also benefit from Innovative Language even if you don’t want to pay a dime. Each week, Innovative Language offers new free audio and video lessons. For easy access to the videos, you may want to subscribe to its YouTube channel. Lessons are about three minutes long and feature native speakers covering thematic topics like introducing yourself.
Innovative Language offers videos in more common languages like Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish and German, but it also covers languages that are more difficult to find videos for like Bulgarian, Nepali and Malaysian.
If you prefer to watch videos from your favorite device, you can also download the Innovative Language app for iOS or Android. The app is free to download with additional in-app purchases available.
If you like the language-learning powerhouse of watching authentic videos but would benefit from additional learning support, FluentU is the perfect balance of the two.
FluentU provides authentic, real-world videos like movie trailers, news, music videos and more. But unlike most authentic video resources, you won’t be left to fend for yourself! This is because each video on FluentU is captioned, and these captions are annotated. You’ll have any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image at the tips of your fingers. Plus, if you want to see how a word is used in other contexts, you can click that word to see how it’s used in other videos.
To make the videos even more useful to learners, FluentU offers “learn mode.” This mode combines videos, images and example sentences into flashcards and exercises for a fun, engaging learning experience unlike any other.
Plus, FluentU is appropriate for any level of language learner. You select your videos and your pace, while FluentU’s algorithm takes into account your learning history to ensure you’re presented with level-appropriate questions.
Chances are that you’ve found some of the great learning channels on YouTube, but have you tried watching authentic YouTubers? These are native speakers of your target language who make videos intended for other native speakers. They may not be designed with language learners in mind, but you can definitely use them to your advantage!
If you’re looking to add these types of videos to your playlist, one of the easiest ways to find them is by looking at a list of the most popular YouTube channels by country. Socialbakers offers just such a list. Select a country where your target language is spoken and you’ll see their 10 most popular channels.
You can even specify the types of channels you’d like to see from a drop-down list of categories. What’s more, if your target language is spoken in several countries, you can select one particular country to hear regional variations.
There are huge benefits to this resource. First of all, you get to hear authentic, colloquial speech. What’s more, YouTube is a self-replenishing resource. Even if you binge and manage to get through all the videos in your target language, by the time you’re done, dozens (if not thousands) more will be uploaded. Your learning binge never needs to stop!
There’s so much more you can do with Instagram than just posting pictures of the last meal you ate—it’s also a great source for language videos!
While Instagram is clearly most known for pictures, there are also plenty of short videos. In many cases, these videos are useful for supplementing your language studies.
To find language learning resources, it helps to search various hashtags (i.e., #learnspanish, #easyspanish, #learnspanishphrases). From there, you can peruse resources to find the right one for you.
To get you started, here are a few Instagram pages that feature language videos:
- Spanish with Vicente — Spanish teacher Vicente frequently posts helpful images, but his videos are real standouts. He speaks slowly and clearly to provide valuable lessons on grammar and vocabulary.
- Mandarin HQ — Angel Huang’s videos focus on a wide variety of topics like regional accents, common characters and even street interviews. The light, fun format makes them easy to watch. If you’re also interested in non-video resources, Mandarin HQ provides images to teach you useful phrases.
- Sound French — Sound French provides useful videos that cover topics like pronunciation and vocabulary. In addition to its videos, Sound French also provides vocabulary words with images, which are often funny as well as vivid.
The video-sharing website Vimeo is another handy source for language videos. Some videos need to be purchased, though most at least offer a free preview.
To find the right resource for you, try using different search terms. Terms like “learn Russian,” “learn Korean,” “learn Dutch,” tend to work the best.
Here are a few pages you might want to check out:
- Master Communications — Master Communications is an educational media distributor. Its video offerings combine language and culture, covering a number of world languages including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Korean.
- ProjectExplorer.org — This channel features videos from the award-winning educational series ProjectExplorer.org. Videos include lessons in basic Dutch, Spanish, Thai, Kriol, Bahasa Melayu and more. Other videos are great for learning more about cultures around the world.
- Talk To Me In Korean — Talk to Me in Korean offers a nice selection of Korean videos that include listening practice and basic Korean lessons.
Want to watch the sort of videos you’d watch in a conventional classroom from the comfort of your own home? Annenberg Learner is the option for you!
Annenberg Learner is a company that provides teacher resources, but (luckily for you) they have an online video library that anyone can access. Languages covered include Arabic, French, Latin, Russian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and Italian.
All the options are clearly laid out on the main page, so you can easily peruse what’s offered for your target language. If you’re learning French, for instance, you can see that Annenberg Learner offers videos called “A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco,” “Chicken Pox,” as well as several others.
All you have to do is select your preferred title to access the materials. Once you click the link, you won’t be taken to the video immediately. Instead, you’ll see a summary first, and all you’ll need to do is click “View & Analyze the Video” on the menu to start watching.
These videos fuse culture and language education. For instance, one lesson focuses on attractions in Japan. Plus, each video comes with questions to help you think more about what you’re seeing.
You’re never alone in the dense jungles of language learning, but that doesn’t mean you have to walk the same path as everyone else.
Try these off-the-beaten-path sources for language videos and decide which route is right for you!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.