Wouldn’t it be cool to have an on-demand Spanish tutor right in your home?
Whenever you have a nagging grammar question or don’t know how to pronounce a new word, you could just turn to your tutor and get exactly the info you need.
Sound like a language learner’s dream?
Well, all you need is internet access, and it’s actually pretty achievable.
Maybe you already use YouTube all the time for everything from movie trailers to news to funny clips while you’re procrastinating work. But there’s a whole world of Spanish learning waiting for you on the famous video platform.
No matter what your proficiency level is or what skills you need to improve, there’s a Spanish lesson on YouTube that’ll help you reach your goals.
Why Use YouTube to Learn Spanish?
- Visual learning works. Videos may sometimes feel like less “work” than traditional Spanish materials, but studies have shown that visual or animated cues can enhance both the learning process and motivation to learn. This may be due to the fact that our brains seem to process visuals faster than text and remember them more easily.
- You can digest the videos at your own pace. In a formal classroom with many students, it’s usually the teacher who sets the pace: how much you learn and how quickly. But with YouTube videos, you control that.
And as a bonus, you also control the situation in case you didn’t understand something. You can go back and watch again, as many times as you need.
- You’ll benefit from lip reading. Though many of us may not notice, lip movements and hand gestures can be part of a language as well, and observing how people move their mouths can help with pronunciation.
Have you ever worked with a Spanish speaker who’s learning English? When you show them how to pronounce th, they’ll sometimes stare, perhaps unconsciously, at your mouth, in order to work out what to do.
- YouTube clips are often bite-sized. Unfortunately, our attention spans are getting shorter, generally speaking. But when it comes to learning, short and sweet can work in your favor. Bite-sized content lets us consistently learn a little bit at a time, rather than trying to absorb everything in one intense, long session.
Though everyone has a different learning style, language learning will always be a poco a poco (little by little) process, with steps building on top of one another. Short videos are perfect for that.
- YouTube clips are convenient. In a similar vein, these short videos can be watched for free, whenever it suits you and right on your computer, where you can have a document open ready for note-taking.
How to Get the Most out of YouTube for Spanish Learning
Set Clear Aims or Goals
Being clear about what you want to get out of the YouTube videos will help you focus your learning and your attention.
Let’s say your goal is to increase your vocabulary. That’s great, but where does that leave you? Increasing your vocabulary is a pretty big goal to accomplish; it’s hard to know where to start or what direction to move in.
What if, instead, your goal was to learn 10 new words a day? Now we’re cooking. With that specific goal, you’d be making measurable progress every single day, ultimately achieving your original goal of a bigger vocabulary.
The more concrete your goals are, the better. It’ll help you understand how you’re improving, what you’re achieving and what to do next.
Choose Videos According to Those Goals and Your Level
It’s easy to video surf on YouTube and to go from one clip to the next with little purpose. Don’t do that, though!
Instead, check out the YouTube resources covered later in this list and then do your own searching to find videos that are interesting to you and won’t either overwhelm you or bore you. Even better, bookmark some channels that engage you, and keep an eye on YouTube’s recommended videos for more clips you might be into.
Actively Participate in the Video, and Combine It with Other Types of Learning
The more engaged you are, the more you’ll get out of YouTube Spanish videos. The most obvious thing to do is to take notes, or to pause, listen and repeat what you hear (yep, out loud!).
But you’ll take it to a whole new level if, after you watch the video, you use your new vocabulary in your own sentences or try out pronunciations on a friend. It’s the difference between casually watching YouTube and actively learning from YouTube.
Review, Review, Review
Reviewing lists of words or textbooks can be a bit on the boring side of things, but it’s crucial for reinforcing what you’ve learned. Watch a video twice or three times in one sitting, and don’t be afraid to come back and review again weeks or months later.
By that stage the content should be quite familiar and perhaps even too easy, but there’s always something we’ve forgotten. Multiple revisions are great for long-term retention.
7 Sensational YouTube Channels for Online Spanish Lessons
This amazing channel has hundreds of ten-minute lessons, organized by theme, including grammar structures, vocabulary sets and phrases or pronunciation drills. If you want to home in on your Spanish weak spots and improve them with quick tutorials, this is a great option.
The teacher, Rodrigo Ferreira, was born in Uruguay but has lived in various countries. He believes in the importance of “learning how to communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds.” His style is clean and gimmick-free, with a lot of whiteboard use, which is helpful to creating that classroom feel wherever you are.
The Spanish lessons at FluentU’s YouTube channel are short and sweet—usually just over a minute. Typically made to go with the FluentU platform linked above, these lessons are fantastic for a super quick recap of a targeted element of Spanish grammar, vocabulary, common expressions and more.
With clear pronunciation and some engaging graphics, you could use these videos for a break between tasks, or squeeze in some language learning while you’re in a line at the bank.
To take your learning to the next level, check out the complete library of authentic Spanish videos available at the FluentU website or app. FluentU transforms real-life videos such as movie trailers, news and inspiring talks into language learning experiences. These videos come with interactive captions providing in-context definitions, as well as a fun “learn mode” with activities and quizzes.
Plus, FluentU remembers what you’ve learned and recommends further content based on that info. It’s a personalized, super effective tool for learning Spanish the way native speakers use it.
This channel takes a fun approach to language learning. The videos are structured but entertaining and digestible, often taking a listicle format such as “10 Ways to Ask ‘What’s Up’ in Spanish.”
You’ll find grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation fundamentals here, but it’s especially useful for improving your everyday and conversational Spanish. You’ll learn how to hail a cab, talk about your job and order food from a food truck.
These videos run from 10 to 45 minutes, and the teacher Ana is expressive and funny, and usually accompanied by a whiteboard.
This is a YouTube Spanish learning channel for kids, but it’s a ton of fun no matter your age.
There are fewer videos on this channel than on the others covered here—around 15—but each is made with a lot of care, and the teacher is animated, clear and uses lots of props from lemons to calcetines (socks).
Parents who are keen for their kids to learn Spanish could watch these videos with them, or just leave them to watch on their own. The host, Jorge, establishes a great rapport with his young audience. Each video also comes with a transcript, making follow-up study a breeze, and Jorge’s barely-audible Peruvian accent (he also lived and taught in the U.S. for more than 20 years) is easy to understand.
SpanishPod101 is a popular series of Spanish-learning videos with fun themes including “phrases your teacher won’t tell you” and “top 20 happy words in Spanish.” The videos here range from just a few minutes to 40 minutes.
No matter what skills you’re targeting, there will be useful videos for you. SpanishPod101 is a prolific resource featuring material made by professional teachers, covering everything from grammar to everyday conversations to Spanish-language culture.
You can sample the series through their YouTube channel, and sign up for more videos at the link above.
These videos are a little bit strange, but they show you some interesting graphics of characters who have conversations using essential Spanish words and phrases. The focus is primarily on conversational Spanish.
The advertising for the main website can be a bit distracting, and there isn’t a lot of consistency between the different videos, but the conversations and phrases taught are useful. They’re also straight from real life rather than a textbook.
The vocabulary videos teach essential words and leave you time to repeat after the narrator or absorb the relevant imagery. The grammar videos are a bit faster but include some animated text and a bouncy yellow dot so you won’t get lost. This is an interesting site because it goes beyond beginner Spanish while remaining engaging, due largely to the accompanying diagrams and drawings.
There’s definitely a lot out there to chose from, and you might bounce around the different channels a bit before landing on something that’s just right for you, but it’s worth it!
Tamara Pearson is a journalist, teacher and language lover who has lived in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and now Mexico. She is also the author of The Butterfly Prison.
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