The Best Way to Learn English by Using YouTube
Okay, random question: which of these two do you do more often – watch TV or YouTube? Don’t answer that – we all know the answer. You’re online right now, for crying out loud! Second question, what is the best way to learn English by using YouTube? Keep reading and you’ll find out 😉
For better of worse, YouTube has become this essential thing in our lives that most of us use for entertainment, whether to watch interesting videos or listen to music. However, there is still a ton of educational content on YouTube that can benefit English learners tremendously.
In my previous post, I talked about the idea of language learners taking just a tiny fraction of their time spent on YouTube per day and applying it to learning English. Below, I’ll go over the different ways you can use YouTube to boost your English studies using great content.
Listening to Lessons
Appropriate for: Learners of all levels
Pros: Fewer distractions, fosters communication
Cons: No visual examples
If you’re the type of learner who prefers to learn by listening rather than reading or doing exercises, you might be onto something. Listening to content allows you to essentially approach language learning stress-free. This means that you’re not bound by visual examples (sentences, images or videos) and you’re only focusing on the verbal content provided by the speaker.
Think of it as a one-sided conversation with your YouTube instructor or teacher with minimum distractions. On the plus side, you can press pause any time you want without necessarily having to rewind once you press play again, since no response is required from you (in most cases).
Nonetheless, a good trick to implement while listening is to keep a notepad closeby. You never know when you might hear a cool English word or something you’d love to have written down for future use. If a notepad is too much of a hassle, another way of doing this is just quickly opening the Notes app on your mobile phone and jotting your thoughts down.
Here’s how I suggest English learners approach listening on YouTube:
Minimize outside distractions
Prepare a pen and notepad on the side
Find content that benefits your proficiency the most
Focus on the content at hand
Take occasional notes, if needed
In a nutshell, learning through listening to content on YouTube is actually pretty effective if you know how to approach it. With that being said, here are the top 3 YouTube channels I highly recommend you give a listen to: Official IELTS Tests, Go Natural English, and ToFluency.
Appropriate Level: Learners of all levels
Pros: Visualizing the content, seeing the speaker
Cons: Multiple distractions
As the most popular technique of the bunch today, watching YouTube videos allows you to fully immerse yourself into the so-called YouTube experience and improve your English while you’re at it. Compared to listening only, watching videos offers the addition of visuals, which could include vocabulary items (good for spelling), rules (grammar), larger chunks of text (sentence structure), images (visualizing words), demonstrations (visualizing real-life scenarios), etc.
Furthermore, watching YouTube videos allows you to focus on the correct English pronunciation of certain words and phrases, as you can see your instructor and how their mouth moves.
Here’s how I suggest English learners approach watching videos on YouTube:
Listen carefully and absorb visual examples (words, images or videos)
Focus on the pronunciation and body language of the speakers
Pause occasionally to mimic the speakers (e.g. imitate their accent)
Take notes and tend to write down new words, rules, etc.
Appropriate Level: Beginner, intermediate
Pros: Practicing what is learnt in new ways
Cons: Lack of context, redundant content
This might be the least popular way of learning English on YouTube, as it is typically used to supplement either listening or watching. But, if used as a stand-alone technique, it typically means drilling what has previously been learnt, without context or relation to a current situation.
The good thing is you’re not limited to written exercises only, but can also have pronunciation, reading or writing practice. This may be extremely useful for learners preparing for a particular exam, which causes them to search for very specific terms on YouTube and do some prep work.
Here’s how I suggest English learners approach exercising on YouTube:
Search for highly specific topics that concern you
Time your exercises and aim to limit your options to “cheat”
Practice new things; occasionally revise what you already know
Include a variety of exercises (all four language skills)
One thing to note here: being that most English learning YouTube channels that include exercises in their videos tend to make their exercises somewhat easy or moderately hard to complete, I reckon that advanced English learners won’t find much use in this technique, unless the channel specifically mentions the level of difficulty. Nonetheless, one can never have too much practice.
So, have you found the best way to learn English on YouTube for you in this article?
If so, I hope you’ll do your best at following my recommended steps and channels to maximize your English proficiency. However, there’s still so much that we do online that has affected us as language learners, such as swapping traditional books for e-books, audio books or podcasts while also growing our sympathy for online courses, games, and e-learning as a whole.
The list goes on… There’s nothing bad about any of this, honestly, but we have to know where and how we can make the most out of our time and learning online. Luckily for English learners (and learners, in general), YouTube offers the perfect solution for literally any given topic today.
So, what exactly is the best way to learn English on YouTube? In all honesty, the answer is: whatever makes you happy while doing it. If you enjoy it, you’ll probably learn it in no time!
The best way to learn English using LingQ
You can now import your favorite YouTube videos into LingQ! What makes this feature so special is that you can learn faster and spend less time looking up new words and also have the ability to take your imported lessons anywhere you go.
For example, instead of pausing videos on YouTube to look up words you don’t know, LingQ provides a variety of dictionaries inside the platform to help you easily look up, save, and create flashcards of your new vocabulary! This convenient feature keeps your studying on track.
Not only that, but by importing YouTube content into LingQ, you can easily read the full transcripts and adjust the settings to make the fonts bigger or smaller. Also, you can only have the transcripts appear and hide the video which may help you be less distracted.
As you can see, LingQ provides a lot more language learning tools compared to YouTube such as dictionaries, customizable features, flashcards, grammar tags, and sentence mode. Since it’s also available on mobile, you can take your lessons on the go too!
So what are you waiting for? Check out LingQ, import your favorite YouTube videos, and start studying.
Check out polyglot and LingQ cofounder Steve Kaufmann’s YouTube channel for tons of great language learning content!
Jasmin Alić is an award-winning EFL/ESL teacher and writing aficionado from Bosnia and Herzegovina with years of experience in multicultural learning environments.