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What is YouGlish and How Does It Work?

Silhouettes of people with speech balloons and YouGlish logo above
(Image credit: YouGlish)

What is YouGlish?

YouGlish is a very easy way to learn the correct pronunciation of words by hearing them spoken on YouTube videos. That YouGlish name makes more sense now, right?

This tool uses YouTube to provide the accepted pronunciation of words in various languages by employing native speakers. It's super simple to use and, thanks to it being YouTube based, YouGlish is accessible from any device that has a web browser.

This isn't just spoken by people from the local country though. You can also get pronunciations from different places around the world. It does this by allowing you to pick the area you want from three options, or all three if that's what you select. It even works for sign language.

YouGlish screenshot with word/phrase search box

(Image credit: YouGlish)

Get yourself over to Youglish.com and type in the words that you want to hear, be it a single word or an entire phrase. Then you select the language you want, for example English, and you can see all the variations below the entry bar. Select the one you want and hit the "Say it" button.

Make sure you have your audio volume turned up so you can actually hear clearly what is being said. Although you will also see it written below too.

How Does YouGlish Work?

YouTube has lots and lots and lots of videos -- as of 2020, there are 720,000 hours uploaded daily. That means that if you wanted to watch an hour's worth of uploaded YouTube videos it would take you about 82 years. Why is this relevant?

YouGlish is smart enough to trawl all that content to find the word or phrase you want to hear. It then offers a video with that word or phrase spoken in the language you selected. 

The video itself could be about anything but the important part is that the word or phrase will be spoken clearly, in many cases multiple times, so you can hear how it is correctly pronounced. 

For example, type in "power" in English and you get a man talking about fighter planes and the power they have, during which he repeats that word several times in the clip. But this is just one of 128,524 English options to pick from.

YouGlish screenshot: How to pronounce Power in English

(Image credit: Youglish)

What Are The Best YouGlish Features?

Aside from taking the work out of finding relevant videos for pronunciation, YouGlish also offers helpful options to make it even more clear.

You can activate the subtitles to be able to read the words as they are spoken in the video. This can help with spelling as well as recognition of how the word fits into a sentence structure. 

Another really useful option in the menu allows you to control playback speed. This lets you play at "Normal" speed or slow down to hear the words spoken more slowly. You can also go faster if that helps. These options range from "Min" for minimum to "0.5x" to "0.75x" then back to normal before going faster through "1.25x" and "1.5x," "1.75x" and then "Max" for the fastest playback.

A handy button featured below the video allows you to go back five seconds so you can repeat a section over and over without having to use the tracker to find that point.

You can toggle on a thumbnail view to see all the other videos in the list so you can skip to one that looks most relevant. A light icon allows you to play in dark mode for a more focused look.

YouGlish works for a selection of languages and can be played back in multiple accents and dialects for each. The language options are Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and sign language.

Is YouGlish Useful for Teachers?

YouGlish is a very valuable tool not only for individuals, but also for teachers. 

You can narrow down your search by the word, by class, by phrase class, or by context. The tool also provides tips on how to improve English pronunciation – written below the video. This includes the phonetic pronunciation as well as suggestions of other words that help with pronunciation. 

Teachers can use the Restricted Mode to use these videos and guides in the classroom. It's worth noting that educators should be careful about inappropriate words and adult content as YouGlish won't necessarily filter for these. Also it’s a good idea to check the clips before sharing them in a classroom.