Videos & Subtitles are Best
In my nerdy, just-for-fun independent research on language acquisition, I’ve come across several articles about using video with subtitles in the classroom and how it vastly increases the rate of vocabulary acquisition. Hearing and reading the words in context is very important – now I just wish someone would tell producers of DVDs that… Subtitles in movies or even the closed-captioning in TV programs are not exactly consistent with what the actors actually say, but it’s better than nothing.
Here are a few free language websites that use video with subtitles or transcripts so you can read along and have a better chance of understanding:
Italian: Impariamo Italiano
German: My German Class (hilarious videos too!)
(Of course, you can always just search Youtube and DailyMotion for free language learning videos and I’m sure you’ll find many more.)
In addition, Yabla is a nice site that has many videos with subtitles and translations into English, but only a few are free as demos. You can slow down the speech, click on any word to get a translation, and play dictation games. It’s not cheap, but it seems really useful. It’s currently available in French, Spanish and English for ESL learners.
And thanks to a tip from roam2rome.com, there’s a free library program called Sing & Study that allows you to copy & paste in song lyrics in two languages, and then add a Youtube video so you can listen to the song and read the lyrics in your foreign and native languages side-by-side.