If you’re reading this, you’re probably already interested in learning Spanish.
You’re not alone—Spanish has the second-highest number of native speakers worldwide, and twenty countries list Spanish an official language. In the United States alone, more than 37 million people (and counting!) speak Spanish.
If you’re thinking about improving your Spanish fluency, you’re in good company. Luckily, there are dozens of great resources and online Spanish lessons available for learners at all levels.
One of these is FluentU.
FluentU offers fun, dynamic, video-based Spanish lessons that’ll put you on the fast track to Spanish fluency. Videos are curated by language-learning experts and then annotated with subtitles, quizzes and vocabulary lists to create an immersive—and effective—language-learning experience.
One of the best things about FluentU is that it’s entirely customizable to your needs and your learning style.
Read on to find out how to design your own personalized Spanish lessons online with FluentU!
Tips for Learning with FluentU’s Spanish Lessons
Identify Why You’re Studying Spanish
Are you an avid world traveler about to take a trip to Spain or Latin America? Do you use Spanish in a business context? Have a new Spanish-speaking friend you’d like to impress? Love Spanish Spanish film, TV and culture? Or maybe you’re just a grammar nerd who loves learning new languages.
Whatever the case is, FluentU has something for you.
And luckily, the FluentU program allows you to sort and choose videos based on theme and content—not just language ability level. That means that if you have a firm sense of why you’re learning Spanish, you can curate content that makes sense for you.
To take advantage of this, you can use FluentU’s “Browse” tool. You’ll find that you can sort FluentU’s over 2,700 Spanish videos (and counting) by difficulty, topic or format.
For example, if you’re a film buff, you might start with a video under the “Arts and Entertainment” category or look specifically for mini-movies or movie trailers.
Someone interested in conversing with a Spanish-speaking friend, on the other hand, could start with the “Everyday Life” category or filter their videos to include only news clips.
Set Personalized Language Goals
FluentU is entirely self-guided. This means that, unlike formal language-learning classes or some other online courses, FluentU can accommodate any schedule. When you log on, you have a wealth of options: You can work through a curated language “course,” choose a standalone video, take a review quiz, look at flashcards and so on.
You know your schedule best. So, to get the most out of FluentU, start by setting a realistic language-learning goal. In fact, under “Settings,” you can set a daily personal goal of one, five, 10 or 30 minutes of language-learning per day.
But why stop there? There are lots of other ways to set daily goals based on your Spanish-learning journey. For example, you might challenge yourself to add five new words to your vocabulary list every time you log on to FluentU. Or you can commit to doing one video lesson and one review every day.
The possibilities are endless.
Integrate Other Spanish-learning Resources
One great thing about FluentU’s customizable platform is that it allows you to integrate other Spanish resources you’ve picked up to help you study, including Spanish classes, conversation meet-ups and other online programs.
A great place to start is with the FluentU flashcard feature. In addition to creating flashcards and vocabulary lists from FluentU videos (more on that later), you can also create your own lists manually.
If you’re currently taking a Spanish class, you can use the flashcard feature to review for exams. If you’re learning Spanish through immersion (or creating your own immersive environment), you can make vocabulary lists based on unfamiliar words you pick up from television, music or daily conversations. (For example, a vocabulary list specifically of local slang words can be immensely helpful for travel or immersion.)
It’s easy to integrate FluentU’s Spanish-learning platform with other resources. Doing so can help you customize your Spanish study, and it can make your language-learning journey more exciting.
Get Excited About Immersion
FluentU’s teaching model is based on the idea of language immersion. Almost all of the videos available on the website feature native Spanish speakers creating content for other native Spanish speakers.
This means that when you use FluentU, you won’t be learning “textbook Spanish.” Rather, you’ll be immersed in real-life Spanish, just as you would be when traveling or living abroad.
Immersive learning will feel harder at first, but it’ll pay huge dividends. Language experts at the University of North Carolina say that “real-life sources” are far more effective than textbook sources since they expose you to Spanish as it’s actually spoken.
Plus, textbooks can be, well, pretty boring. “Real-life sources” can speed up your Spanish learning because you’ll actually want to study! FluentU’s immersive and engaging video content will keep you practicing every day.
How to Personalize Your Spanish Lessons with FluentU and Get Immersed in Learning
Familiarize Yourself with FluentU
FluentU’s platform is based on a huge database of curated video and audio content, designed to help you learn Spanish within an immersive setting.
But these are not just videos and sound clips. Each video also comes with a variety of useful features, annotations and supplementary materials. The videos are also organized into courses, based on topic and ability level.
You might want to start with one of FluentU’s many courses, especially if you’re at the beginner level. Courses are sorted by ability level: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Within these sections, lessons focus on specific grammatical topics or thematic vocabulary.
Not interested in starting a course? You can use the browse function to choose a standalone video sorted by ability level, topic and format.
Videos come with subtitles in both English and Spanish, which can be turned on or off as you see fit:
As you watch, if you encounter a word or phrase that you don’t know, you can click it for more information. This’ll not only pull up a definition of the word, but it’ll also link you to other related videos where you can hear the word pronounced and used in context. Here, you’ll also find the option to put the word on a vocabulary list if you’d like to return to it later.
Attached to each video, you’ll also find a list of new vocabulary words specific to the video, as well as a full transcript of the video’s dialogue, with English translations and pronunciation help.
Each video also features a brief quiz to test comprehension and vocabulary.
Customize Every Aspect of Your FluentU Spanish Lesson
So how do you create your own Spanish lessons with FluentU? The short answer is… any way you want.
The wealth of resources attached to each video means you can customize your FluentU lessons to fit your own language-learning style. Here are a few questions and suggestions to get you thinking about the different options available to you:
- Subtitles: Spanish, English or neither? Each FluentU video has interactive subtitles available in Spanish and English, which can be turned on or off.
Beginning learners might start out by watching videos with English or Spanish subtitles and then re-watch the same video without them. More advanced learners can turn the subtitles off entirely for a more immersive experience, and then turn them on to work on specific vocabulary.
- Vocabulary study: Before or after watching? You might prefer to study a video’s associated vocabulary list before watching it, allowing you to focus on grammar, sentence structure and accent while you watch.
Or, you might want to jump into the video without looking at the vocabulary to test your comprehension. Both ways are fine—it just depends on your language goals.
- Pacing: Watch the video all the way through, or stop and start? If you’re trying to build vocabulary lists, you can stop and start a FluentU video whenever you come across an interesting new word, as many times as you want.
On the other hand, if you’re less interested in building your vocabulary and more interested in improving your conversational fluency, you might challenge yourself to watch the video all the way through with absolutely no stopping, before doing a deep-dive into the vocabulary.
The options for customizing FluentU’s video content are practically endless. The program is designed in a way that encourages you to be creative and put the videos to use in the way that most suits your learning style and language goals.
Don’t Waste Time on What You Already Know
FluentU is great for absolute beginners, but many FluentU users already have some level of Spanish when they sign up. Luckily, FluentU has a number of features that accommodate users at all levels.
Other language-learning websites—and not to mention in-person classes—can be frustratingly repetitive for learners who already have a basic knowledge of Spanish. FluentU combats this problem with features like the “already know” button.
You’ll see this button while taking quizzes and reviewing, and it allows you to mark words that you already know so that you won’t be tested on them over and over again. This helps you make the most of your language-learning time.
Another great feature is the speed-up and slow-down button, available on all FluentU videos. This button lets you watch videos slower or faster than they were originally recorded. Beginners may find the slow-down button particularly useful when confronted with native Spanish speakers’ fast pace or a particularly difficult accent.
At the same time, learners at all levels can use the speed-up button to fast-forward through parts of the video that have no speaking or that you already understand well.
Take Advantage of Flashcard Sets and Vocabulary Lists
Video content is the centerpiece of FluentU, but the program also includes so many other features. Customized vocabulary lists and flashcard sets can help you review what you learn during video-based lessons, to ensure that you’re retaining new vocabulary and grammar concepts.
Building a vocabulary list couldn’t be easier. As you’re watching a video, simply click on any word in the subtitles and click the “Add To” button in the top-right corner. You can also add words (individually or in bulk) from each video’s associated vocabulary list. Finally, you can enter words manually.
As with most other FluentU features, the vocabulary lists are highly customizable. You can make one giant list, but I recommend breaking it up in some way that makes sense to you. You can organize words by video, course, topic, part of speech or any other way that makes sense to you.
You can turn your vocabulary lists into flashcards by clicking on “Flashcards” under the “My Content” heading. FluentU will generate a quiz based on your vocabulary list and the algorithm will track how well you remember each word.
As you do this, the program will adapt to your learning and personalize the questions it asks specifically to your learning level.
Are you ready to forge your own path and design customized, immersive Spanish lessons?
FluentU is a fun and effective Spanish-learning resource that works for any budget, any schedule and any learning style.
With FluentU’s wide array of engaging video content, you’ll find yourself on the fast-track to Spanish fluency! Try out FluentU for free today and enjoy everything the program has to offer.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.