Watching stuff on Roku is entertaining… but not always productive.
Studying a language is productive… but not always entertaining.
But what if you want it both ways?
Can’t we have our fun and get fluent, too?
Luckily, learning a language on Roku will help you do just that.
The right Roku channels can give you essential language training with the click of the remote. Many of them offer highly immersive learning experiences all from your TV room—and many are even free.
These six Roku channels will give you all the material you need to turn your TV into your new favorite learning device!
Why Learn a Language on Roku?
First, learning a language on Roku is convenient. Roku is a handheld, portable device, so you can use it to turn any TV into a language learning tool. You’ll instantly gain the benefits of learning a foreign language at home (or at your parents’ house, an AirBnB, an empty waiting room, you name it).
Plus, learning a language on Roku is more fun and relaxing than learning through many other methods. No need for an office, desk and set of pencils. You’ll be learning while watching TV and movies, maybe from your favorite couch with a cup of tea in hand.
Since you’ll be comfortable and entertained, your motivation to keep learning will go up.
Finally, Roku offers diverse learning techniques. There are specific resources for language learners, but there are also resources that can hook you up with authentic international content. With these international options, you’ll hear your target language in many different, entertaining contexts.
This is the same idea behind FluentU, another great option for fun language learning. Like Roku, FluentU hooks you up with real-world target language videos (like movie and TV clips, music videos, inspiring talks and more).
Better yet, each video is organized by level and comes with interactive captions, flashcards and exercises, so you’re actively building your vocabulary while you watch.
Being a couch potato is starting to sound pretty smart, isn’t it?
The 6 Most Bingeable Language Learning Roku Channels
Innovative Language’s Roku channel offers lessons that incorporate cultural information, grammar, popular vocabulary and more. Each lesson features conversations to illustrate key rules and phrases.
Plus, lessons are delivered by native speakers to give you a more authentic experience.
With over 40 hours of content per language, Innovative Language is appropriate for all levels of language learner and aims to get even beginning learners speaking within minutes.
The Roku channel offers lessons for 30 different languages, including popular options like Chinese, French, German and Japanese, along with less common options like Cantonese, Finnish and Polish.
For $0.99 a month, you’ll have access to one language. Aspiring polyglot? For $3.99 per month, you can access material for all the languages.
If you like this Roku channel, you can keep learning even when you’re away from your TV. Innovative Language also has a series of popular audio and video podcasts for targeted language learning.
The team is always churning out new lessons—there are already more than 1,000 available on their SpanishPod101 and ChineseClass101 apps, among several others. They also offer PDF lesson notes and access to a worldwide language community for a varied, immersive learning experience.
Just try not to get in too deep all at once—it’s important to sleep every few days.
Little Pim is a popular language learning system for children and anyone with a childlike sensibility.
Since Little Pim is meant to be a convenient option, it should come as no surprise that in addition to apps, CDs, DVDs, flashcards and books, Little Pim also offers a Roku channel.
Designed for beginning students, Little Pim uses spaced repetition to teach key words and phrases at the optimal moment, making memorization easier and faster. Words are presented with associated images and animations to help learners connect the word or phrase with its meaning.
Additionally, children are featured in many videos, which is engaging for kid learners and adorable for adult learners.
There are a dozen popular languages offered.
If you like TV and movies, chances are that the very word “Netflix” fills you with an overwhelming sense of joy and contentment.
And not only can Netflix fill the extra hours you have each day, it can also help you learn a language. That’s because Netflix offers tons of international movies and TV.
To browse, all you have to do is select the “International” category and go to town. Otherwise, you can search your target language and browse from there. Once you watch one foreign-language program, Netflix will start suggesting plenty more, so you’ll never lack for options.
For instance, Spanish learners will love compulsively viewable TV series, like “El barco” (“The Boat”) and “El internado” (“The Boarding School”), though you may get a little paranoid that someone is out to get you. Netflix is even producing original Spanish-language content now, including “Club de cuervos” (“Club of Crows”) and “Las chicas del cable” (“Cable Girls”).
There are plenty of options for other languages, too. For instance, language students might dive into the German TV show “Der gleiche Himmel” (“The Same Sky”), the Chinese movie “不能说的秘密” (“Secret”) or popular Japanese anime like “ポケットモンスター エックスワイ” (“Pokémon: XY”).
Plus, Netflix offers fairly flexible captioning on Roku. By going to the options menu, you can choose to eliminate captions or set captions to English or your target language.
This way, you can practice listening without assistance, enjoy your favorite international entertainment with English-language support or listen in your target language while being able to refer back to the printed words.
Amazon offers some free international content for any Prime subscriber, so if you’re a sucker for free two-day shipping, you can also go ahead and enjoy some language learning on your Roku.
Amazon Prime is particularly friendly to Russian learners—one TV show to get started with is “Екатерина” (“Ekaterina”).
While the selection isn’t as vast as Netflix’s, Amazon does offer some unique choices you won’t find elsewhere.
Hulu may not have a lot for language learners on Roku, but it does have some nice options that you might want to consider.
Hulu is perhaps best suited for anyone interested in Asian languages, since it offers a decent selection of material in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
French learners might like the TV series “Engrenages” (“Spiral”).
If you’re interested in Scandinavian languages, you might like the TV show “Bron”/”Broen” (“The Bridge”), which is in Danish and Swedish.
YouTube is everyone’s favorite free source of kitten videos and makeup tutorials. But YouTube is so much more than that for language learners on Roku!
YouTube has videos on virtually any language you can possibly think of and some you could never imagine. For instance, if you’re looking for a little !Xóõ listening practice, YouTube is there for you, though trying to replicate the sounds could literally give you a lump in your throat.
But between the free grammar lessons, vocabulary lists and authentic material, YouTube is a language learner’s dream come true!
Make heavy use of the search bar—just type in your target language plus the topic you’re hoping to learn, or even broader keywords like “grammar lesson” or “for beginners.” You can also search for your hobbies or areas of interest with search terms in your target language for fun, free authentic content.
Bonus: An International Roku Channel in Your Target Language
This isn’t just one channel: it’s a bunch.
That’s because there are quite a few international Roku channels that focus on providing content from one specific region. You can select a region where your target language is spoken, download a channel that focuses on that region and enjoy learning material.
Learning a language doesn’t need to feel like you’re swimming upstream. With these Roku channels, you’ll be streaming your way to fluency in no time!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.