What are your plans this evening? Watching an episode of your favourite soap? Checking out the latest uploads of your favourite Youtubers? Catching up on that much talked-about documentary series? Or even taking a trip to the cinema?

Ever thought about doing these things in your target language? Language learners of Cardiff, it’s time to rethink your leisure time. I love films, television, relaxing and languages, and I’m here to tell you how they can work together in perfect harmony.

As a languages student, I am accustomed to accessing new languages and culture online and onscreen. It’s one of the easiest and most accessible ways to immerse yourself in the language without leaving the comfort of your own home. Best of all, it’s free! No monthly subscription fees or headsets, no trekking into town to attend that evening class. Sit back, relax and bathe in the joy of second language acquisition my soon-to-be polyglot friends!

So the next time someone remarks ‘you’re always online! You need to get out more!’ you can swiftly reply ‘I will…one day, and when I do I’ll be able to travel the world and communicate in [INSERT LANGUAGE HERE]!’


I’m diving straight in with perhaps the most obvious and well-known language resource, Youtube. You’ve probably heard of Zoella, Jenna Marbles, and Smosh, but Youtube is a global phenomenon. This equates to a whole lot of videos in a whole lot of languages. Here are my foreign language Youtube recommendations:

  • The Paris based up-and-coming English comedian Paul Taylor creates videos about those French quirks he has never quite understood.
  • French Youtuber Antoine Daniel scours the internet for strange videos before presenting the cream of the crop to you, in French of course.
  • Life. At the beginning you’re born and at the end you die. In between loads of stuff happens. Bref is the story of a guy right in between, also in French.
  • I’m a big fan of Spanish comedy monologues and trying to fully understand the jokes. The challenge of a regional accent gives it a new level. Spanish learners should check out the ‘Club de la comedia monólogos’ on Youtube. Here’s my one of my favourites by Dani Rovira. Other shows I highly recommended are: ‘La que se avecina’, a cooky Spanish soap/sitcom and ‘Tu cara me suena mini’, where adorable Spanish children imitate popstars à la Stars in Their Eyes.
  • Learning Norwegian? You’re in luck. Skam is the Norwegian drama making waves on social media. Although it’s not on Youtube it is a web-series – find out more about the series here.
Box of Broadcasts

A hidden gem for research students (and bake-off fans), Cardiff University subscribes to Box of Broadcasts, meaning all Cardiff students can access it. The website hosts a whole range of programmes that have previously aired on television: documentaries, films, quiz shows – you name it, you’ll be able to find it.

I’ve been able to find a whole host of Pedro Almodóvar films on there, as well as a great documentary on European horror films. If it hasn’t been uploaded, you can request it. Log in via your institution and start learning from your sofa.

Screenshot, learningonscreen.ac.uk

The media streaming giant now plays host to a whole range of foreign-language films. Just delve into the international section on the site and browse away. You can usually enable subtitles in the original language, meaning you can watch, listen and learn.

I highly recommend ‘A Spanish Affair 2’, a comedy about Spanish regional stereotypes which I watched from bed. I also used Netflix to put on regular film screenings for the university’s Spanish & Italian society including ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘La grande bellezza’ along with a couple of my favourite Carlos Saura films. Worth the monthly subscription fee? Si, oui, ja, ydy.

Chat or quiz shows

I’m a confessed chat show addict. My favourite Spanish chat show is ‘El Hormiguero’; I love the celebrity interviews and the tips and tricks section. My current favourite is this segment sharing tips and tricks used by supermarkets.

Additionally, quiz shows are great for picking up colloquial phrases. I was a big daytime television fan when I lived in Spain and the quirky quiz shows won me over. This is one of my personal favourites where contestants actually face falling through holes.

My advice is to find TV channels from a country where your target language is spoken. They will usually have an online catch-up service. Locate the quiz shows and you can test your language skills and general knowledge simultaneously.

Chapter Arts Centre

If you do get the urge to venture outside, this arts venue often screens films in foreign languages. I’m hoping to get along to a screening of Almodovar’s new film ‘Julieta’ very soon. Just check out Chapter’s website find out more. Students get a discount on tickets!

Image: Wikimedia Commons
German Film Screenings: Cardiff School of Modern Languages

Cardiff University’s German department regularly organise German film screenings in collaboration with Languages for All. Films are subtitled in English, so you can join whatever your level. You can find a list of upcoming screenings here.

So there you have it, my top lazy language learning hacks. Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive, so please feel free to suggest more. Lastly, nothing beats chatting with natives so don’t miss the Languages For All tandem cafes coming up in 2017. With that, I’m signing out from my sofa. Qui m’aime me suive ! … et s’asseye devant la télé. Over and out.

Author note

Rachelrachel-beaney2 Beaney is a postgraduate research student in Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages. She completed her undergraduate studies in BA Spanish, graduating in July 2016. She spent one year studying at the University of Granada, Spain where she undertook two film studies courses and rose to fame after she appeared on the weather segment of the Spanish news. Her current research looks at the role of the child in contemporary Spanish horror film. She is a foreign film fan and has also completed beginner’s courses in Italian and Catalan. You can follow her on Twitter.

With thanks to Benjamin Rouse for his French advice.

Header image by Pawel Kadysz on unsplash


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