Language Learning: Harnessing the Power of YouTube for Kids

In the digital age there are ample opportunities to learn a new language. Nowhere is this more prevalent, budget-conscious and kid friendly than on Youtube.com. Yes, there seems to be more videos of cats doing silly things than anything else, but if you dig in you can find a few useful language resources.

If you are just starting a language with your children keep it simple. Explore subject matter that is interesting and engaging. Animals, cars, trucks, and animated characters will get children excited about watching something new in a language they may have never heard before.

Find videos that are fun and engaging

Your child learned English by talking to you, having stories read to them in English and perhaps watching a few videos while you take a breather from a day of endless questions and activities. Kids can learn another language in much the same way.

Watch your parent guilt melt away when you let your kids watch TV in another language. It’s educational after all, even if that monkey is just jumping around eating bananas while singing a song.

My friend in Sicily sent me her daughter’s three favorite videos in Italian for Dek to watch as we prepare for our trip in October. They had Dek captivated in no time.

If you want something a little more structured that you can also follow along with check out the language program Little Pim. The video up on YouTube features kids and families doing every day activities while a cartoon panda walks you through the new vocabulary. Dek was able to sit through the 5-minute video, a rare occurrence these days.

Of course as soon as Little Pim was finished he wanted to see the lion video that he had spied in the sidebar. This video was a book read in Italian that was uploaded by BookBox.com. We were able to watch the story while the words were highlighted it was read. I didn’t understand every word but I did pick up a few new ones. More importantly, we were hearing the Italian language being spoken at a rate I could keep up with.

YouTube gives you access to great videos but is also a resource for finding other sites. While searching “learning Italian with kids” I came across a video of a little girl. Her parents run the blog Italy from the Inside. They had a series of easy to digest videos that were about a minute long. Each video covered a different group of vocabulary words. As you can imagine the video that highlighted parts of a car was Dek’s favorite. I’m not sure how much use this will be to me when we travel, but at least he is learning. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a flat tired.

YouTube has a wealth of free information when trying to learn a language with your children. I found myself enjoying a lot of the same videos Dek did. Most preschoolers in Italy still know more vocabulary than I do, but at least I can hope to make it to their level and sentence structure at some point.

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written by Keryn Means

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