I have been teaching Spanish and English for about 20 years, and, until now, it had never dawned on me that I could actually write something that might be useful to language learners and yarn enthusiasts at the same time. I think this has to do with the fact that I speak Spanish and English equally well (although English is my native language) so I have always checked things out in both languages without giving much thought to it. I constantly tell my language students that watching and listening to videos related to their favorite hobby is a great way to practice. It’s fun because you’re interested in the content, it’s educational because you’re practicing the language you are studying, and it’s practical because you can learn new things about your hobby.
I’m limiting myself to talking about Spanish language tutorials for knitting and crochet, but you can actually practice just about any language this way by searching on YouTube. You can also do this for any craft you’re interested in.
You might ask yourself, “how will this help my language skills?” Well, for starters, the big focus here will be, of course, on listening comprehension. One of the benefits of using how-to videos for listening practice is that we often, for practical reasons, need to replay segments of a video to make sure we’re mastering the craft skill demonstrated. If you’ve ever done listening comprehension activities for homework or self-study, you have probably encountered an especially frustrating recording you had to play over and over again to answer the comprehension questions. By using a how-to video you won’t feel so bad about replaying things because this is what you would do with an instructional video in your native language. It will feel totally natural to scrub back with your needles or hook and yarn in your lap. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical listening activities you might have to do.
Another benefit is that you’ll learn new vocabulary or reinforce vocabulary you already know because very often the action or object talked about is shown to you. If you hear the word “aguja” you will more than likely see a finger pointing at the “aguja,” which is Spanish for “needle.”
Finally, you will more than likely learn something about knitting or crochet you will find valuable. In different Spanish-speaking cultures, knitting and crochet is very popular among a wide range of people representing a variety of social classes and ethnic groups. People over the centuries have independently developed strategies, tricks, and techniques that have not yet been published in books about knitting and crochet, but rather passed down from generation to generation. Some of the more interesting videos I find are the ones made by “everyday” people who want to share something they learned from their mother or grandmother.
Below I’m going to give two examples of crochet and knitting, respectively, to demonstrate how you can put these videos to good use for language study and expanding your knowledge of your favorite craft. After you check this blog post out, hit YouTube and start doing some searches in Spanish (or whatever language you’re studying) and have fun making your new discoveries! Hint: If you’re not sure how to say or write a search term in the language, look it up in a bilingual dictionary. A useful online, multilingual dictionary is http://www.wordreference.com
Two Crochet Videos
“Trinidad Tejiendo de Corazón”
I discovered the Crochet instructor Trinidad while searching for Tunisian crochet videos. This teacher has a ton of content. Her YouTube channel is like a big, interactive stitch dictionary. She also has some instructional videos that help people to make her very own designs. She does not write patterns for projects. Instead, she explains the pattern in the video while demonstrating each step. I used her “Mantita de bebé 2” instructions to start my Tunisian crochet afghan I posted about previously. I’ve altered the pattern for a larger afghan, but you could make a baby blanket just like Trinidad does in her video, too!
This video showed me a concept that was new to me: Crochet squares while joining them at the same time. If you’re curious, check out the video. It’s interactive, linking you to different supplementary materials from her web page as she goes.
The video below is a fine example of how a lot of new tips and tricks can be learned in a brief clip:
“Tira del Ovillo”
Knitters abound in the Spanish-speaking world and often their shop owners make videos to feature the products they have available for their customers to purchase. This is a great opportunity to learn vocabulary related to knitting tools. In the video below the owner of the online shop Tira del Ovillo gives a visual overview of some of the knitting needles she has for sale:
This YouTuber demonstrates an easy way to count the number of rows you’ve knitted if you’ve lost count:
Go for it!
So, what are you waiting for? Get on YouTube and start discovering a whole new world of knitting and crochet in Spanish or any other language. You can watch a video that shows you how to do something you already know how to do to practice vocabulary or you can exercise your ears and try to learn a new technique or follow a pattern.