Are you wondering if it’s possible to learn a language by watching videos on YouTube?
YouTube is known for its music videos, its “how-to” guides, and its videos on just about anything really. But it is also a goldmine for language learning resources.
What language are you trying to learn? Spanish? Italian? No matter which, at Lingopie we recognize the importance of learning a language through listening and watching.
Our streaming service has helped thousands of users improve their language skills with fun and interactive TV watching. We don’t think learning a language should be tedious and uninspiring.
And YouTube can be a useful and entertaining tool to propel your language experience.
Nowadays there are thousands of YouTube channels that offer free language lessons. The problem is knowing where to start. YouTube has so much to offer that it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right channel for you.
Not to worry though - we have put together a list of the best language channels to learn French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as a guide on how to make the most of your learning experience with YouTube. Let’s begin!
Can I become fluent in a language by watching Youtube?
YouTube is free, easy to use, and you can learn at your own pace with videos - but it won’t make you completely fluent.
Of course listening is a huge and important part of language learning, but it is still a good idea to diversify your language learning with books, comprehension exercises, and maybe by finding a tutor or a local language class.
Many YouTube channels offer videos on culture, idioms and even grammar lessons, but what is missing is the communication factor.
Communicating with a person in the target language is fundamental to become fluent. This is where you can notice your pronunciation errors, words and phrases you can’t remember and - well, really put your language learning to the test.
It can be really beneficial to have a tutor or teacher guide you on your learning journey. When you put private lessons and some video watching together, you will be in a much better position to become fluent rapidly. And this is why Lingopie offers one-on-one tutoring services.
How to Learn Languages with YouTube Step by Step
If you have ever found yourself watching ‘dogs doing funny things’ videos for two hours straight and then thinking what a waste of my time, that’s probably not what you want to be doing with language learning videos.
What I’m saying is this is not about passive learning. If you watch a French video once and then forget about it and never come back to it then you won’t have learned much at all.
So how can you make the most of language lessons on YouTube without wasting time?
- Get yourself a pen and a notebook. Or if you prefer, you can open a Word document on your laptop and use that. This will help you to stay focused and proactive when watching videos.
The downside to YouTube is that you have to look up any words you are unfamiliar with. Many videos don’t offer subtitles in English so you will have to put in a bit of extra effort.
Use your notebook to jot down any new words or new phrases you come across. Try to write them down neatly because if you scribble them down you will be less tempted to read over them later on.
The key is to learn and memorize the new words and phrases.
- Find yourself a quality YouTube channel in your target language. (We have fortunately found you a few and listed them below!) Generally, the ones with many subscribers tend to be the most popular and have the best content.
Do try to stick to channels that are not completely in English. The more speaking they do in the target language the better for you. This will get your ears accustomed to the sounds.
- Watch each video once or twice with subtitles in English (if this option is available) first. This will give you a sense of what is actually happening in the video. Understanding the context will then help you decipher what is actually being said in the language.
- Next, re-watch the video again, but this time with the subtitles in the language you are trying to learn. This part is really important because it teaches your brain to associate what is being said with the way it is written.
If you like, you can pause the video and repeat certain phrases out loud to yourself. By doing this you will also be practicing your speaking and pronunciation.
Watch the video with the subtitles in the target language as many times as you feel necessary.
- The last step is to watch the video without any subtitles at all. Really focus on the speaker's mouth movements and their hand gestures. Can you understand everything that is being said? Is the pronunciation easy to understand?
If you are still not understanding much - no worries. Go back to using subtitles and keep watching until you do understand a bit more.
The fun part about YouTube is that you don’t have to stick to only one channel. In fact, the more, the better.
Watch a variety of videos on grammar, vocabulary, travel vlogs, history, cultural lessons, and even slang expressions. The more you are exposed to different speakers and dialects, the better equipped you will be when it comes to speaking the language.
You can also practice your writing skills by communicating with other users in the comments section. If you have any queries about something you are uncertain of in the videos, why not ask the other users a question? Or maybe you can answer someone else's question!
Best YouTube Channels to Learn French
Easy French is a fantastic channel for French learners.
This channel consists of videos showing regular people being interviewed in the streets of Paris and other French speaking locations. The topics vary from ‘What do the French eat at Christmas?’ to ‘Do the French have too many holidays?’
All the videos contain both English and French subtitles. For beginners, there is a section called “Super Easy” where French is spoken at a slower pace. Superbe!
Français Authentique is informative and yet fun at the same time. There are videos with grammar quizzes, videos about French expressions and grammar concepts, and more.
The host Johan also talks about topics like personal development so you will be really spoiled for choice with this channel. Subtitles come only in French.
Learn French with Elisabeth - Hello French
This lady’s channel offers such unique content.
She has several videos on French slang expressions, grammar tips and even analyzes popular Netflix series with French dialogue like this one on “Emily in Paris.”
You'd need to have at least an intermediate level of French knowledge to get the most out of this channel. (You do have the option to switch on English subtitles on the bar at the bottom of the video).
If you've decided French is for you, you may be interested in...
- 8 Tips to Boost Your French Learning
- 13 Great French Movies For Beginners
- Learning Conversational French: Check Out These French Conversation Starters
Best YouTube Channels to Learn Spanish
Why Not Spanish?
Why Not Spanish? features a Spanish teacher - Maria - and her student - Cody.
They interact in Spanish and she corrects the mistakes he makes. So technically you are learning along with Cody.
This channel offers Spanish lessons for beginners (but is suitable for all levels).
Her lessons are all in Spanish though you can switch on English subtitles (and she is quite clear when speaking which is great.)
Similar to the Easy French channel, Easy Spanish interviews people in the street to help viewers listen to the Spanish that is used in everyday life.
They can be really fun to watch. All these videos have English and Spanish subtitles. New episodes are released every Wednesday.
Butterfly Spanish has a big focus on tenses, vocabulary, and comprehension.
The host of this channel is named Ana and she is very popular on YouTube.
She also teaches the differences in how Spanish is spoken in different countries (super useful!). Her videos are both in Spanish and English so they are quite easy to follow!
If you want to learn Spanish, give these articles a read:
- What is the Best Way to Learn Spanish on Your Own?
- Learn Spanish with Audiobooks
- What Are The Spanish Dialects And Just How Many Are There?
Best YouTube Channels to Learn Italian
Impara L’Italiano con Italiano Automatico
This channel is perfect for those who already have a grasp of some Italian vocabulary and grammar but want to work on mastering their speaking.
The host’s name is Alberto and sometimes he brings his nonna into his videos. She really is the cherry on top of the cake!
I mean who doesn’t love an Italian grandma (with all the hand gestures)!?
Impara L'Italiano con Italiano Automatico has some interviews in the streets and travel videos. Some of the videos contain subtitles in both English and Italian.
Learn Italian with Lucrezia
Lucrezia’s channel is perfect for beginners and intermediate learners.
Her videos consist of verbs, vocabulary, travel videos around Rome and even Italian book recommendations.
Her videos don't have Italian subtitles but you have the option to switch on English subtitles. You can even learn how to make pesto with her.
Dolce Vita with Luca & Marina
You will be learning a lot about both the Italian language and culture with Dolce Vita.
They offer fantastic travel tips and have a “Learn Italian in 30 days” playlist.
They also provide grammar lessons. The videos are spoken in both Italian and English although they don’t come with Italian subtitles.
If you found a part of yourself in Italy - or just want to know if Italian's for you, the following articles may be helpful:
- Amazing Facts About Italian Culture
- What Is the Best Way To Learn Italian on Your Own?
- The Best Italian Cooking Shows to Learn Italian
Best YouTube Channels to Learn Portuguese
If you want to learn European Portuguese, this channel is great to start with.
Rui and Joel from Practice Portuguese are entertaining teachers and they have videos for people of all levels.
In this channel you can find animated videos, videos of their daily lives (so you can actually hear how real Portuguese is spoken), and more difficult dialogues.
Thankfully, most of their videos come with subtitles in Portuguese. And on the bar beneath the videos you can select English subtitles.
Portuguese with Leo
This channel is also good for those looking for European Portuguese.
Portuguese with Leo’s videos focus on the differences between the accents of various Portuguese regions as well as those of Brazil.
Leo also provides grammar videos and Portuguese history lessons. His channel is best for intermediate to advanced learners as some of his videos don’t offer subtitles in Portuguese (although you can switch on English subtitles in most of them).
If you are looking to learn Brazilian Portuguese, this is a good channel for beginners. Hello Rusty has videos on vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.
Rusty’s videos are actually in English but you can still learn a lot of Portuguese because she analyzes Brazilian songs and expressions in detail.
Check out these articles on Portuguese:
- Portuguese Phrases for Travel
- Spanish vs. Portuguese: Which is easier to learn?
- Understanding the Differences between Brazilian vs. European Portuguese
Language Learning with YouTube - A Summary
To get the most out of your learning sessions, try to watch at least 15 minutes of videos a day. We understand that English translations are not always 100% accurate on YouTube and some don’t have the subtitles in the target language.
At Lingopie all our TV series and videos have subtitles in both English and your target language of choice. You also have the opportunity to practice speaking and check how accurate your pronunciation is with our microphone option.
So to sum up, the key to success with YouTube learning is to be proactive.
Get yourself a notebook and write down any new words you come across when watching the videos - and then learn them.
Don’t just watch the videos once; watch them at least a few times (with and then without subtitles). And remember to repeat the words you hear out loud so you get some speaking practice too.
With a bit of practice every day you will slowly be making your way to reaching your language goals. Bonne chance! Boa sorte! Buona fortuna! Buena suerte!