Hulu is one of the most popular streaming services available today, as well as one of the longest-established. It’s home to some of the world’s most popular TV series, and has become a mainstay in the streaming catalogs of many. You might have subscribed to Hulu just as a source of entertainment, but did you know that you can make your subscription go further by using Hulu as part of your language-learning toolbox?

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Language options in Hulu are somewhat limited, but if you’re learning Spanish or English it’s a particularly good resource. There are some other languages that you could experience through the platform, but those two are definitely the most available.

First, Find Content You’re Interested to Watch

The first way that you’ll make Hulu an effective language learning tool is if you focus on content that you are genuinely interested in watching. It’s no good picking shows based on what friends tell you to watch or purely on what’s popular or trending. You need to be engaged with the show you are watching, and interested in what’s going on on-screen. If you’re not, then you’re going to feel like watching is a chore, and that’s not conducive to good language learning.

Second, Look for an Ensemble Cast

Another good tip for using Hulu’s content for language learning is to find an ensemble cast, especially if you’re going to watch a version dubbed in another language, or if you’re learning English and want the benefits of listening practice. An ensemble cast with perhaps a core group of 5-8 characters plus a group of regular satellite characters will provide a rich language environment in which to study, especially when honing your listening skills.

A great example of a Hulu show with an ensemble cast was Modern Family, which featured three connected family groups made up of 11 core characters representing different ages, voice styles and even accents. If you were trying to get a picture of the variety of voices that exist in America, that was a good show with which to do it, and with 11 seasons of episodes, there’s lots of material  to work with.

Next, Follow Along with Subtitles

Not all the shows on Hulu are dubbed, but you can get an array of subtitles, perhaps in your chosen language. One great thing to do can be watch a show in your mother tongue, and then read the subtitles as you’re going through.

You can pick up interesting vocabulary and translations that you can later ask your teacher about and see if they work as real authentic expressions in your target language. It’s important to check with a native speaker first because sometimes subtitles are written in a less-than natural way just to help other language speakers know basically what’s going on.

Challenge Yourself: Watch International Shows Without Subtitles

If you’re learning German or Danish, for instance, you might find shows like Deutschland 83 and Borgen a great place to listen to native speakers using your target language. As they do, you can perhaps watch it once with subtitles so you can know the story, but then re-watch with no subtitles and challenge yourself to listen to and catch the expressions that you know.

The beauty of doing this through Hulu is that it helps you pick up more natural, authentic and relevant modern expressions that textbooks often miss. Your native speaker teacher will be very impressed when you can understand and perhaps even speak like people from popular culture.

Make Notes, and Review

Another good practice when using subtitles is to write down expressions as you see them. Try your best to remember them first, but if not then you can always rewind and watch it again. Be ready with a notepad or laptop throughout the show ready to write down expressions that interest you and you want to know more about.

After the show, you can research the expression and learn more about how to integrate it into regular conversation. Before you know it you’ve picked up hundreds of new words and expressions!

Try Hulu for yourself and see just how much you can learn!

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