What are the Pros and Cons of Learning a Language on YouTube?

Learning a new language requires a lot of motivation, but not necessarily a lot of money. In the past, those serious about becoming multilingual had to sign up for pricey courses or invest in resources like books, CDs or expensive packages consisting of confusing lesson plans. With the social media revolution underway, those days are long gone – now you can learn anything from French to Farsi instantly by going on YouTube and simply searching for your choice of language lesson. Upon checking it out for yourself, you may wonder: Is going on YouTube the best way to learn a language online? Here’s our analysis of the pros and cons of language learning via social media.

Pros:

  • It’s really free!This is the biggest draw going for YouTube language courses. The moment you decide you are finally going to go forth and follow your dream of learning Welsh, you can do it, instantly, with nothing to hold you back but your own willpower. Free language courses can be accessed by anyone with WIFI – that’s a beautiful thing, people.
  • It’s mobile. Put that expensive tablet PC to good use by loading it up with your favourite lessons from YouTube and hitting the road. Gone are the days where tourists needed to lug out telltale phrase books to communicate abroad; you only need a laptop or smart device to catch your favourite videos on the go. Extra web-savvy users can even convert YouTube videos into MP3s and create their own homemade language playlists.
  • Lessons are made by peers for peers. Traditional learning materials can be stuffy or dull. YouTube videos are fun and engaging because they are usually made by people like you, of their own initiative. 

Cons:

  • You get what you pay for.If you’re looking for fancy production value and frills, YouTube language courses may not be for you.
  • It can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. YouTube is a great place to start off learning a new language, but it can be difficult to find videos covering more advanced lessons. Sure, you could watch video content in the language you’re trying to learn, but that may not help much if you’re trying to memorise the past participle of an irregular verb.
  • Lesson plans are limited. If you work consistently at your new language you will probably outgrow the content on YouTube. When that happens, you may struggle to find a good way to pick up where you left off with a different program or video.

YouTube offers unparalleled choice for those wishing to tip their toes in a new language, but is just the tip of the iceberg. Alternative means of learning online include podcasts, or even finding language exchange partners to communicate with on Skype.

Tell us about your experiences learning a language online in the comments below.

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