Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
Spanish learning on YouTube? Is this possible?
Especially in 2020/2021, the Corona-Virus showed us that traveling the world to learn Spanish might not be possible for a more extended period.
And here comes the unlimited possibilities of the internet!
There were many Spanish learning options on YouTube before, but in 2020, the number of channels and people offering Spanish lessons online increased incredibly.
As SAY ZONTE!, we would like to give you our sincere answer to this question and let you know the pros and cons of Spanish learning on YouTube.
We have our own YouTube channel (click here), so there’s no reason to be too skeptical about the question of Spanish learning on YouTube is possible.
But I still believe that it’s worth thinking more about if the digital way on YouTube is always the best option.
To give you an idea: this is my list of the pros and cons of Spanish learning on YouTube! Keep reading if you want to get the whole picture!
It's for free and comfortable!
A large variety of videos!
It's like traveling the world!
No structure in your learning process!
You won't develop conversation skills!
YouTube can't replace the intercultural experience!
PRO: Learn Spanish on YouTube is free and very comfortable
You don’t have to spend any money if you want to learn some Spanish on YouTube.
Also, you can sit on the cozy sofa and watch some videos without leaving your room. That saves you a lot of time!
You can easily choose between several channels and pick your favorite topic (grammar, vocabulary, listening practice, fun stuff, pronunciation, there’re almost no limits).
The variety of videos and channels is overwhelming! It’s not that easy to find the best Spanish online YouTubers. “Butterfly Spanish – Learn Spanish with Ana” is one of these YouTube channels that we find professional and helpful.
CONTRA: No one helps you to get a structure into your learning process.
No doubt: No one can beat YouTube concerning the number of videos and free lessons you can find there.
But: No one helps you to get a structure into your learning process. It’s like if you want to pick up some needles in a dark room from the floor. It’s hard to find where they are! Same with your Spanish.
If you try Spanish learning videos on YouTube, you will realize pretty quickly that you need some structure, someone who tells you where to start and what to improve.
A good, real-life Spanish teacher will help you to find out where to start and what to learn. He will let you know what to improve and the most important thing: You can have an authentic conversation with her or him.
And concerning the costs: Yes, one-to-one Spanish lessons are more expensive, and you have to travel to another place possibly. But: It’s well-spent money if you find an excellent Spanish teacher.
We often made the experience that the discipline of our students in El Zonte is very high. It’s probably higher than if you’re sitting on your cozy sofa learning Spanish.
They know that they paid some money to improve their Spanish. Sometimes the people need that “extra push.”
That’s why we think that Youtube videos cannot substitute one-to-one Spanish lessons in real-life completely.
PRO: There’s everything you need for Spanish learning on YouTube!
Ok, that’s true. There’s probably no topic of Spanish grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary that isn’t covered by some video on YouTube.
There’s a vast amount of channels that offer Spanish lessons in different languages. You can watch the video as often as you want; no real teacher would have that patience. It’s 100% flexible concerning location and time, and almost always often it’s for free!
CONTRA: Learning a language ONLY on YouTube doesn’t work!
Spanish learning on YouTube is not always the right choice. Depending on what type of learner you are, YouTube can be a good option for you or not!
We made the experience that our students sometimes couldn’t have a simple conversation, although they told us that they learned some Spanish on YouTube before.
The reason is simple: Learning Spanish on YouTube means it’s almost 100% “one-way input.” No one asks you to speak Spanish, and there’s no need to have an authentic conversation like in real life.
You might learn the grammar and the difference between “ser” and “estar,” but that doesn’t mean that you know how to have a real-time conversation.
If you’re interested to practice the difference between “Ser and Estar” you could also try out the quiz, by the way (click here).
PRO: Spanish learning on YouTube is like traveling the world
Somehow that’s true. We love the fact that the internet made the world a bit smaller! It’s amazing what you can find on YouTube, also about the Spanish language and culture.
It doesn’t matter if you want to find out more about the different accents, the culture, typical food, or how to date a girl in Mexico.
It’s all there on YouTube! And we’ve seen excellent videos, probably more entertaining than a boring one-to-one class about “subjunctive”:
CONTRA: We must disappoint you, but Youtube is not the real-world!
Of course, there’s a contra: We must disappoint you and we’re sure that it won’t surprise you, but Spanish learning on Youtube is not the real-world!
- Have you ever had a conversation with a Spanish speaker with a different accent?
- Have you ever made some typical authentic food like pupusas in El Salvador together with some locals?
- Have you ever had some small talk with a local fisherman in Costa Rica
You will truly understand and experience the culture in Spanish and Latin American countries if you go there. In real life!
It’s not about what you see and listen to on Youtube; it’s all about the experiences you have in real-life. Learning a language is all about meeting new people! It’s about having a conversation and sharing experiences.
Conclusion: Spanish learning on YouTube? Yes or no?
The answer to this question is easy: yes, you should, don’t miss all the great videos to improve your Spanish!
But I don’t believe that this is the only way because, in our opinion learning Spanish ONLY on Youtube doesn’t work at all.
Youtube is an excellent source of additional resources to learn Spanish, but it cannot substitute a real-life teacher that sits in front of you.
Many great videos can provide you an excellent repetition or explanation of the grammar. Still, only in a real-life conversation, you will know if you’re able to communicate in Spanish.
Only a real-life teacher can motivate you, correct you, and structure your learning process.
I think combining all is the best: real-life one-to-one lessons, YouTube videos, books, and maybe some apps (read more about the best learning apps here).
And you will realize quickly: it can be enjoyable to learn Spanish, go for it!
Maybe you’re interested in the following post about learning Spanish or language learning in general: