Finding vlogs in another language

The important thing is to enjoy it even if you only catch the jist of what’s being said.

If you’ve learned a language to the intermediate level or above and you want to improve your listening comprehension, one way is to watch vloggers on YouTube in your target language. But how do you find them? I’ll show you my way. Think of a topic which is interesting to you and make a phrase out of it. Try to be specific. For me, it might be “trip to Paris” or “study abroad in Japan.” Type that phrase into Google Translate and find the equivalent in your target language. Then copy and paste that into the YouTube search box. Browse the results for vlogs and try out a few. As you’re doing that, also try out the related channels and recommended videos that show up as you’re watching them.

If you get too few results, remove words or try a different phrase. In many languages, there aren’t many videos on YouTube except news broadcasts.

When you find videos you like and can partially understand, either add them to a private playlist or subscribe to the channel. At first, you might not find many vloggers that you even partially understand. The important thing is to enjoy it even if you only catch the jist of what’s being said.

What do you do when you don’t understand any of them? That means that your listening skills in that language are still too low–even if your overall proficiency is higher. Listen to a lot of easier material. For example, try Lingq, read graded readers that include audio CD’s, listen to Innovative Language podcasts, buy a listening course such as SmartSpanish, or practice conversation with a variety of tutors or language exchange partners.

Some people (such as Steve Kaufmann) argue that listening is the most important skill you can learn in another language. Others (such as Olly Richards) claim that it’s the hardest skill for most learners. If they’re right, it’s worth it to invest time into listening practice. But make sure it’s not too difficult for you. In addition, don’t cram a lot of practice into one day, but do a little a day. I hope you find vloggers you enjoy listening to.

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