Since the dawn of time (or at least since the invention of the cassette player!) language learners have been subjected to hideously wooden role playing scenes where a tourist typically asks for directions to the train station/museum/beach. The idea being that by following these little sketches, we could improve our listening skills.
I want to argue that beyond the beginner level, these sketches quickly become of little use. Speech is simply not something that fits nicely into a short two person role play. To gain intermediate or advanced listening skills, something else is needed…
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the video bloggers of Spain! In recent years the concept of video blogging has taken the world by storm. Dozens of leading ‘YouTubers’ now earn a living by simply sharing their thoughts with millions of others via YouTube.
Without intending to do so, these people have created the greatest source of free listening material in the history of mankind. Never again will a language learner suffer for lack of native audio content.
The best part of all is that you can replay the videos as many times as you want, download the sound as an mp3 (see my other article for instructions), and as the person is typically talking right at you, you don’t have the problem of speech being directed in all directions and thus becoming hard to follow.
These people probably have no idea how they’re inadvertently helping us language learners. This in itself is a great thing, the last thing you want with listening material is for the speaker to adjust what he or she is saying to attempt to make things easier for you! Over the last 4 years I’ve followed a whole host of video bloggers, here I present to you some of my favourites. If you are learning a language and want to improve your listening skills, YouTube has become a sensational resource.
So here we go, 6 Spanish YouTubers who have helped me out immensely with my listening skills!
YellowMellow – Yellow Mellow is a Barcelona based Spanish YouTube star with a clear accent. Her videos are fun and light hearted. The topics she covers are very relevant to the modern day, meaning the vocabulary she uses is extremely useful.
LuzuVlogs – Luzu has become a genuine superstar of the video blogging world. So much so his name was ‘trending’ on Twitter when he did a recent live Q&A session. Often posting videos with his girlfriend Lana, this guy is superb for listening practice as his videos are extremely well made. He’s from Bilbao and so his Spanish accent is different from the Madrid based bloggers, currently he lives in Los Angeles.
Chusitafashionfever – Chus lives in Madrid and is one of the veteran YouTubers, having started out some 5 years ago. Her videos are great for being both authentic (she speaks fast and uses plenty of slang), and also clear to watch.
JPelirrojo – A Madrid based superstar of the video blogging world. Arguably the most well known and watched Spanish YouTuber. He talks about pretty much everything, here he’s explaining why voting in the recent European elections was better than not bothering to vote at all.
Kirei No Yuri – Video games and YouTube bloggers have been an amazingly successful combination. Many of the most subscribed to channels on YouTube are gameplay video blogs. Yuri here talks about her favourite SNES games from yesteryear. What’s great for the language learner is that she’s speaking extremely slowly.
Carolina Denia is the host of Clipset, a Madrid based technology video blog that covers all thing electronic. If you want to improve your Spanish listening whilst hearing about the latest mobile phones and gadgets, subscribe to her channel now!
If you have other video bloggers that you would like to recommend to me, please feel free to leave a link in the comments!
I’ve found that by watching a few of these videos each day over several years, not only has my listening improved a lot, but I’ve been able to pick up a better sense of the Spanish popular culture. I would highly recommend that anyone learning Spanish or even any other language seeks out some YouTube channels they like and gets into the habit of watching them daily. The sheer number of video bloggers out there means that you’re bound to find someone who you find interesting. Once you’re interested in what they’re saying, your listening will improve very quickly.