With the goal of fluency, one cannot succeed without understanding the spoken language. Listening is one of the hardest aspects of language education, but the current world’s connectivity means listening can easily become part of each language learner’s life.
YouTube (free) is the center for listening practice. With videos from countries across the world and a burgeoning closed caption system, content exists for almost every language. Certain YouTube channels provide tailored lessons in languages, like Learn Welsh with Will, Learn Chinese Now, or TedxTalks.
As a way to take advantage of Youtube’s modern media, FluentU, a relatively new app and website duo, makes use of videos for language-learning. With footage in basically any language represented on YouTube, FluentU allows users to learn by watching clips with subtitles and then test their knowledge with short quizzes on the content and grammar.
As a dedicated language learner for five years and a musically-inclined student, music is my number one study tool, the majority of which I find on YouTube, Spotify, or iTunes. In every language I study (barring Latin for obvious reasons), I dive into the music scene; a quarter of my music library showcases French, German, Russian, Welsh, Japanese, and more. Listening to music in the target language teaches subconsciously as the brain latches onto patterns and tunes while taking in new vocabulary. Furthermore, translating a song while listening cements new words in the mind and provides an enjoyable experience for the learner.
In the realm of entertainment, shifting daily news and movies also allows for enjoyable learning. By switching a movie or news stream to the target language and employing subtitles, learners can incorporate every bit of their daily lives into the learning experience, resulting in almost full immersion.