Quarantined and spending an insane amount of time in the kitchen trying to make something to eat. Can you relate? This awesome YouTube channel will help you learn English, practice your listening skills and increase your cooking vocabulary. Keep reading to see our recommendations of which videos to watch, and learn about this inspiring English language learner.
English and delicious food tutorial videos? Okay!
Laura Vitale is the face behind the YouTube channel Laura in the Kitchen, which was created back in 2010. It accumulates 3.73 million subscribers to this day. Laura was born and raised in Naples, a city in southern Italy famous for being the birthplace of Margherita pizza. When she was 12, Laura moved to New Jersey (USA) to live with her father. She traveled alone, leaving her mother, brothers and grandparents behind.
Laura felt homesick in the first few months. She then had the idea of making her grandma’s classic Italian recipes to try coping with her emotions. The two of them spent hours on long-distance calls where Laura listened carefully to all of grandma’s instructions.
How to learn English like Laura
When Laura arrived in the USA, she didn’t speak any English. Yes, you read that correctly. If you watch the first ten seconds of any of her English speaking videos you could never tell she isn’t a native speaker. So…how did she learn English? The answer is: binge-watching the news. Her stepmother encouraged her to do that because TV hosts enunciate well and she thought it was the best way to improve English without an accent.
One of her favorite shows was Nancy Grace. Ms. Grace, the host of the show, is from the state of Georgia, which is located in the South of the United States. There are several different accents in America since it is such a huge country. One of them is the southern accent. Known by the trademark expression y’all (an abbreviation of you all) and the frequent usage of Ma’am (a contraction of Madam) and Sir to address someone, the southern accent is very distinct. Even though Laura never lived in the South of the USA, she does have a southern accent that probably comes from watching that specific TV show as a kid.
You can learn English from Laura’s Youtube videos
Those who learn English from a very young age will have an easier time learning the language. However, it is possible to learn another language later in life and still be fluent. Laura Vitale is such a great example of that! What we can learn from her is that being in an English-speaking environment will definitely help you. She moved to the USA, but it is not necessary that you do the same in order to learn English.
That’s a great question. I understand where you are coming from.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Enroll in the PrepEng online English classes: Learn English online and focus on communication activities with authentic materials.. We usually talk about topics such as pop culture, job applications, social issues, and much more. You can sign up here.
- Find an English conversation club: even if you meet once a week that is still some time you will be spending around other English speakers.
- You probably heard this a million times and we know it may sound cliche, but it is not: watch movies, TV shows, or the news in English! If it is still hard for you to understand everything that is happening on the screen, don’t be afraid of watching it with English subtitles.
Okay, so let’s go back to Laura Vitale and her amazing recipes.
How to learn cooking vocabulary with these videos
Laura uses a very simple English vocabulary to explain the step-by-step of her recipes. However, for those who are not used to watching cooking shows or anything kitchen-related in English, some words may be new. The great advantage is that you will learn the names of ingredients (e.g. parsley, chicken stock, garlic), kitchen items (e.g. grater, blender, tray), and coking verbs (e.g. to chop, to stir, to boil) by watching her move around the kitchen. That means instead of searching for the translation in your native language, you will be able to learn the vocabulary through images.
Also, you will be able to pick up some idioms. Laura is famous for saying you do you boo all the time. Since we have mentioned it, let’s take a quick look at its meaning:
You do you boo = when someone knows they will be judged by doing something, but they go ahead and do it anyway.
- Laura, do you add oil to the pasta water before boiling it?
- Well, I do, but that’s me. You do you boo!
One more thing: even though Laura has been living in the United States for more than 20 years now, she still struggles with the pronunciation of particular words. It is common for her to make fun of herself whenever she does that. If you are learning a new language, you will make mistakes. And that’s normal and even necessary for you to develop yourself. You will relate to the moments where she mispronounces a word and then corrects herself. After all, learning English is a process and it is okay to make mistakes.
To take the most out of using her videos as a tool for learning English, here are a few things you can do:
- Take notes of the new English vocabulary that you learned after watching YouTube English videos.
- Choose one recipe and try making it! Following instructions is a good exercise. Also, some of the quantities will be displayed in the Imperial system. Even though you probably follow the metric system, the USA doesn’t and it would be good for you to learn the basic units they use.
- You will get familiar with American holidays and what is common for them to eat on those special days. She always makes special episodes dedicated to Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, two of the most important American holidays.
- Read more about kitchen vocabulary here.
The best recipes by Laura in the Kitchen
Honestly, this woman is so funny and passionate about food that I would watch her slice an onion and still be entertained. For real. But she makes amazing food! I have tried some of them at home and I can guarantee you they are easy to make and taste great. Below are my all-time favorites!
A word to the wise: if you are hungry now, we recommend you watch these videos later!
- Homemade cinnamon rolls: these delicious, fluffy and soft buns are filled with cinnamon and brown sugar and topped with a cream cheese glaze. Laura’s recipe is the best I have tried so far (and believe me — I have tried to make cinnamon rolls at home a thousand times before). She posted the first cinnamon rolls video about 8 years ago and it is the third most viewed video on her channel to this day. Recently, she uploaded another video using the same recipe but with a few twists. Both videos are great entertainment, but the latest one features Laura’s lovely daughter, Mia, so I would go with that one!
- Homemade rice balls (Arancini, in Italian): Risotto is one of the most popular Italian dishes. Whenever you make risotto, remember to make a little extra in order to make rice balls on the following day. These deep-fried rice balls, called arancini in Italian, are a perfect treat. You can watch the video here and get the recipe here.
More recipes by Laura Vitale
- Bomboloni (Nutella Stuffed Italian donuts): Donuts are delicious. Picture them stuffed with Nutella. Does it get any better than this? Check out the video here and the recipe here.
- Family Style Stuffing: Thanksgiving is THE holiday in America. Everybody gets together to celebrate and, of course, eat. Some of the typical dishes are: roast turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce and pecan pie. My personal favorite is stuffing. If you haven’t heard about it, it is made with bread cubes, onions, celery and chicken stock. Laura’s recipe is definitely worth a try!
Remember, the best way to learn English is by being around the language as much as possible, even if it is difficult at first. You can learn English with YouTube videos if you put in the time and effort to study the language. If anyone knows this is true, it is Laura Vitale. Have fun in the kitchen and happy studying!