These are a few of the YouTube channels I subscribe to and have derived some value from. The opinions expressed are my own, so feel free to ignore any of them.
The Language Tutor
The Language Tutor is a channel that was started by Dr. Danny Evans, who covers French and Spanish. Dr. Evans teaches these languages at a school in Georgia, USA, and he spent time in France in High School and majored in Spanish in college. It looks like the channel is starting to branch out a little since I am just starting to see videos from a woman who is going the opposite way and teaching English as a second language to Spanish speakers. And Dr. Evans has stated that his aim is to add more. Portuguese is on the list. And he is adding podcasts to the mix as well. New French videos come out every Friday, and new Spanish videos come out every Sunday. Aside from YouTube, they have an online presence on Facebook, and a web site at http://thelanguagetutor.co/.
Dr. Evans did a series on AIB, a community access channel in Georgia, called ¿Qué hora es? Spanish for beginners (season 1), and that is how I first encountered him. Both that series and the Language Tutor series are aimed at beginners. When I finished ¿Qué hora es? and then started on The Language Tutor, the first few lessons were more review than anything. But The Language Tutor is being actively developed, and the Spanish playlist just hit 100 episodes. I am still working through them, but I enjoy them a lot and find them helpful.
If you want to know more about Dr. Evans, he was interviewed on a YouTube channel called Daily Language Learning, and you can watch the interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8hFdZEPqdM . When I watched this I learned the interesting fact that he is now learning Dutch!
As for the content of this channel, it is basically oriented to beginners, which is fine for me because I am a beginner. I’ve made it to Lesson 29, which is how to tell the Doctor where it hurts. And to prepare for this, Lesson 28 was about naming body parts, which is kind of a necessary prerequisite. After all, you cannot say “I have a headache” if you don’t know the word for “head”. By the way, in Spanish that is tengo dolor de cabeza.
Professor Jason Spanish and Portuguese
This channel has some interesting things in it, and in particular some very good help with pronunciation. Then he switched to a long series of episodes about answering questions that is clearly aimed at people who need to demonstrate a level of proficiency, such as for a job. The EU, for instance, has Spanish as one of its official languages, and has set six levels of proficiency in The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) as follows:
- A – Basic User
- A1 – Breakthrough or beginner
- A2 – Waystage or elementary
- B – Independent User
- B1 – Threshold or intermediate
- B2 – Vantage or upper intermediate
- C – Proficient User
- C1 – Effective operational proficiency or advanced
- C2 – Mastery or proficiency
The page I linked to can give a lot more detail on these, but the thing that matters here is that you might need to hit a certain level to be hired in some jobs, or for admission to a university program. Since neither of these matters to me (but the link is there if it matters to you), I won’t go into this any further. But that last third of the shows on the channel are all exam prep for if you need to be certified in an oral exam.
This channel does a really good job of helping with pronunciation. Professor Jason demonstrates clearly how things are pronounced, then goes into the details of where you are placing your tongue (for instance), in relation to the palate or the teeth. So I would say it is worthwhile to follow the channel up until the point where he goes into exam prep. Unfortunately, the channel is no longer in active development, and the Web site is now showing a “404”. But the first 24 of the 38 episodes are worth your time, and since they are mostly 5-10 minutes long, doing one a day is pretty easy. I even watched a number of them several times to reinforce the learning. In language learning, repetition is key to long-term mastery.
Professor Jason is Associate Dean – Diversity, Globalization and Policy, Modern and Classical Languages, at Missouri State University.
Hola Spanish has a lot of bite-sized lessons you can always fit in somewhere, though lately they have gotten somewhat longer, in the 15-20 minute range. I’ve seen this a lot on YouTube channels of all kinds, the first videos are pretty short, but get longer over time as the presenter gets more confident. The producer of this channel is Brenda Romaniello, who I have also seen on the Spanishpod101.com channel. I have been liking this channel because they explain things nicely and in English so I can follow them. I just watched a nice video about the cultural differences between countries. In the Spanish countries, when you are invited over to someone’s house and they offer you something like a cup of coffee, you are supposed to say no, and do a little dance where they talk you into it. Otherwise, you appear rude if you just say yes right away. This caught her out when she went to an English speaking country, was offered a drink, politely said no, and then was thirsty the rest of the time. Different cultures.
Culture Alley Basic Spanish
Culture Alley Basic Spanish is on their YouTube Channel, which also offers Mandarin. The Spanish lessons are in English, and are slow-paced. They are aimed at complete beginners, and each lesson includes some cultural information which I enjoyed having. After all, to speak a language properly you have to understand the culture it lives in. And since one of my reasons for learning Spanish was to travel in Spanish-speaking countries, learning more about the culture just makes sense.
The YouTube series is pretty basic, but you can continue. They also have a Web site with further lessons that let you build on the Basic lessons. I was glad to have it, but frankly I found the Web site difficult to work with and I find I have not made it a priority.
Butterfly Spanish is one my favorite channels. There are over a hundred videos there now, and new ones come out every week or two. The instructor, Ana, is a native speaker who very patiently and carefully explains the topic. Her latest video (as I write this) is aimed at medical people who need to talk to Spanish-speaking patients, a most timely problem. I made a small donation to her to help her keep doing the videos. I would definitely encourage you to give this one a try.
Coffee Break Spanish
Like many of these channels, Coffee Break Spanish is not just YouTube channel. They also have language courses you can purchase through their Web site, and podcasts you can download for free and listen to on your pod player. The Coffee Break network also covers many other languages, as does the YouTube Channel, which is called Coffee Break Languages. The name comes from the idea that you can do one lesson on your coffee break, and they have a slogan “Make your down time your do time.”
It was founded by a polyglot Scotsman who speaks many languages and clearly is following his passion. The YouTube videos they have been doing (for Spanish, at least; I am not following other languages right now.) are particularly valuable for practicing listening skills. My own experience trying to follow Spanish speakers is that they seem to talk very fast, and elide a lot of syllables (for example, qué está ends up sounding like “kesta”). In these latest videos, Mark (the Scotsman) is joined by Marina, a Spanish native. They give you questions to be answered by the Spanish text, then Marina reads the text more slowly and enunciating more carefully than the average native speaker. With this help, I am gradually learning to understand spoken Spanish. My experience so far (and note that I have only been studying for about 5 months now) is that written Spanish is not too difficult. You need to build up your vocabulary and learn some grammar rules (e.g conjugating verbs), but it is not too bad. But actual conversation is much harder, and any tool that helps you with this is worthwhile.
I liked this so much that I decided to purchase a course from them as well, but that is something to cover later when I have more experience with it and can review it properly.
There are some other YouTube Channels I follow, but this article has gone on long enough so I’ll end it here and pick up again in the next article.