Yabla is a great site that helps you learn languages through native videos. You can read our full review of Yabla here. This article is specifically for those looking to use Yabla to learn Spanish.
Yabla has almost 1,500 Spanish videos including telenovelas, short films, music videos, cartoons, and more. Yabla offers videos in 6 different languages and is helpful for all of them.
In this article we highlight 3 ways that Yabla will specifically help improve your Spanish.
1) It will help you with the Spanish tenses
Knowing when to use the preterite and imperfect Spanish past tenses can be one of the most confusing parts about learning the language. In the English language we simply don’t have any equivalent to compare to. There’s also the subjective tense which may prove difficult for the same reason.
A little more info on the preterite and imperfect tenses
Yabla is great because you can use its videos to learn when and how to use the Spanish tenses. You’ll see the words used in action in a real native dialogue. The best way to study tenses with Yabla is to focus on one particular tense at a time.
Which ever tense you choose, get familiar with the basic conjugation rules so you can recognize it when you hear or see it. Then watch a video on Yabla with Spanish subtitles. Any time you notice a word that uses that tense, notice, pause the video and make a note of how it was used.
The context of the video and the conversation will give you clues on the correct usage. If you want you can even take a screenshot of the video and put the phrase into a flashcard system like Anki to review later.
Do this enough and you will start to develop a stronger sense of when each tense is used. Tenses will start “feel” correct because you’ve practiced them so many times.
2) It will help you understand native speakers
Spanish is a famously fast language. Native speakers often speak at what seems like lightspeed. But speed isn’t the only challenge to understanding spoken Spanish.
Speakers often morph or even drop sounds when words are spoken together. Luckily you can use Yabla as a listening and pronunciation practice tool.
You can use Yabla’s video player to slow down the video speed. From here you can pick a specific part of the video and play it over and over by looping it.
As you loop it listen to the individual syllables within each phrase. Try to copy the sounds you hear one syllable at a time and gradually build back up to saying them all at once.
Remember to do your best to reflect the native speaker’s intonation as well as pronunciation. You can try making a recording of yourself saying the phrases all together and play it back to compare it to the original video. Rinse and repeat this process until you develop your Spanish accent.
Another option is to play a video without any Spanish or English subtitles. As you listen and playback the video jot down the words you think you hear (slow the video down if needed).
Then play the video back with Spanish subtitles and see if you heard correctly. This exercise will help improve your listening skills.
3) You’ll learn vocabulary through context
One thing I love about watching Spanish media and entertainment is that it’s a great way to pick up new words and phrases. When you understand the situation and the context in which a new word is used in you can make an educated guess as to what it means.
Learning words this way is a lot more effective (and fun) than simply reading through a phrase list or dictionary.
Yabla is used by schools to help students learn Spanish
Yabla’s videos are great because you can watch Spanish videos and follow along with Spanish subtitles. Try watching the first part of a video with Spanish subtitles and English subtitles to get a sense of what is going on in the clip.
Then turn the English subtitles off and try to follow along with the Spanish ones. Depending on your level you may not be able to understand every word but you should be able to get the general sense of what is happening.
At the end of the video you can go back and use the subtitles to check if you were correct. Put any new words you learn in a flashcard deck or notebook to review again later.
Yabla has a large selection of telenovela episodes which work great with this exercise. Because the shows are short and follow a predictable story it’s a lot easier to try and guess what certain words mean.
Alternatives to Yabla Spanish
Starts at $15 per month
5+ minutes a day
Fluentu is a site that helps you learn a language through native videos. It's very similar to Yabla (though it costs a bit more). With Fluentu you can use in site flashcards, captions, and games to learn new words in context while watching Spanish TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and vocabulary.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Spanishpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Spanish conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
Spanishpod101 is more structured than Yabla and is a substantial Spanish learning tool. The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Spanish is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Spanish).
Rocket Spanish is for those who want a more thorough and comprehensive Spanish course. The course does an excellent job of incorporating Spanish speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
Learning Spanish is a grand adventure, but it doesn’t always feel like it. There are some real hurdles you’ll have to overcome if you want to become fluent it in.
Yabla is a great way to overcome three of the most common. Check out the site and click through some of their demo videos to see if you like it!