Youtube Extension - Now Online!

This thread is about LLY (Language Learning with Yotube), a sister extension to LLN.

It’s a beta (test) version, so you are all guinea pigs (test users).
(that’s you)

Youtube has videos on any topic, in practically any language.
Russian + owls? Ok:
German + diy? Ok:
Cartoons in Hungarian? Ok:
French travel documentaries? Ok:

The thing is, Youtube tries to hide foreign content from you. Here’s what you do. We made these extra buttons near the search bar on Youtube. The one one the left makes the search only show results with ‘proper’ captions (not auto-captions or no captions), and the one on the right translates the search text to the language you select.

Here, we translated to French:

And here are the results, mostly in French:

Some searches will be a bit language-ambiguous still (like, if you search for ‘Brazil’). In that case, you can change your Youtube UI language to the language you are studying. Instructions here:

When you open a video, it should be a mostly familiar interface, it’s like LLN.

Some notes:

  • Maybe half the videos on Youtube have no captions at all (no ‘proper’ and no ‘autocaptions’). LLY can’t do much with these videos.
  • Autocaptions work OK, but they are they are broken into smaller pieces that regular captions. I’ll work on improving the situation soon.
  • The dictionary and saving words dones’t work for a few languages currently, I’ll fix this soon. Also you can’t save entire captions currently.
  • There’s no Autopause toggle. Ognjen took it out (?). You have to use the ‘Q’ key for now.
  • The dictionary is very slow at the moment. Will be fixed soon and faster than ever.
  • Hit the ‘t’ key when watching a video to go to ‘theatre mode’. It’s prettier.
  • Loading subtitles is failing sometimes.
  • Subtitles take 5s or so to load, and there’s no indication of loading.

UPDATE: The extension is now available on the Chrome Webstore.

More updates coming soon. :slight_smile:


That’s amazing! Do you know when you’ll be able to release it?

We’ll put a BETA version online, hopefully in the next few days. It’ll be a seperate extension (for now at least). There will be some rough edges at the beginning. Currently I’m finishing setting up our servers to handle yt support, and need to do a bit more testing of the ‘front-end’ to make sure subs are loaded correctly.

So, standby for install link! I think you can subscribe to this thread to get an update when there’s a new post. We’ll need your feedback to help us improve it.

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Now available in webstore, see first link. We’ll be actively working on improving it in the next days.

Thank you so much!!!


I’m excited for the possibilities of this, but a little frustrated at the tools for finding videos currently.

The ‘CC’ button in the search bar doesn’t seem to work - I get the same videos in results either way. If there was a working tool that ensured that a search only returned results with subtitles in both the target language and the learner’s first language, that would be a huge huge help.

Please let us know when you’ve added Mandarin videos to the LLY Catalogue. I think Mandarin probably has an argument for being a language that should be prioritised as one of the first to be given the same curated treatment that English currently has on there.

Let me explain - Virtually every Chinese learning video I can find on YouTube seems to have English and Chinese open captions on screen together already, so no close captions for either (must be annoying for people learning from a different first language!) And just about every Chinese TV show on there has Chinese open captions already on screen and only translation languages as closed captions (if you’re lucky).

I’ve been scouring YouTube for suitable Chinese content that has closed captions in both Mandarin and English, but it seems that, because of the huge number of Chinese dialects, it’s completely standard for Chinese videos and TV shows to have open captions burned into the video, and as a result closed captions are redundant, so very rarely provided.

On the plus side, there are a few Chinese TV shows with Mandarin open captions and English closed captions that I was previously finding frustrating to watch because English overlapped the Chinese and I couldn’t quickly skip back to play the last caption again. In these cases LLY does at least move the subtitles under the video (if the side bar is open) and allow me to move back and forth with arrow keys. So that’s an improvement over before.

Ah, it seems that if you press Enter to submit the search then the ‘CC’ button has no effect but if you click the magnifying glass search button to submit the form, then it does produce results that have subtitles. However, I then have the same problem as always, finding videos that have both Simplified Mandarin and English subtitles.

Is there a search tool where you can specify two subtitle languages and have it only return results where both languages are provided? That would be an absolutely killer feature.

Incidentally, I’m not currently managing to get any videos to show the translation (English) subtitles under the selected subtitle language it just leaves a gap at the bottom. It will at least show the machine translation if I turn that on. For example, I’ve tried every subtitle language on this video and none produced the English subtitles at the bottom, and the same if I changed the translation language to another on the list:

Also even though I’m on YouTube and it says it’s LLY, the settings menu is showing the message about how to fix Netflix error M7063-1013.

Oh and the extension doesn’t seem to know what to do with subtitles called ‘Chinese (China)’ and ‘Chinese (Taiwan)’ rather than ‘Chinese (Simplified)’ and ‘Chinese (Traditional)’, even though they display fine with LLY turned off, no subtitles load at all when it’s on - for example, see

Edit: No, that can’t be the issue with that video - the Langfocus video works fine and that also has subtitle tracks called ‘Chinese (China)’ and ‘Chinese (Taiwan)’. There must be some other problem with videos from this other channel.

Thanks, looks like you found an issue with the search bar, doesn’t work with enter key. We’ll do something with that.

I tried a few videos with Chinese, didn’t see any immeadiate problem:

(Steven Universe in Chinese, nice.)

The current webstore version will just fail to retrieve the subtitles sometimes. In that case you can just reload the page (F5), and things might work the second time. I’ve made some fixes in the last few days that may well have eliminated that issue, will have to test a bit more. We’re also adding a mechanism that will allow us to push updates and fixes faster… minutes instead of days.

One thing to note is that if you can find a video with any kind of Chinese subtitles (‘autocaptions/automatic speech recognition’ or regualar closed captions), the extension should be able to provide a machine translation at least… that should almost always be available. There’s no need to find videos with captions in two languages. Actually, because it’s not very common on YT to have multiple ‘human’ translation tracks available, LLY currently doesn’t support showing them as the secondary, lower, translation track, only machine translation.

The suggested search method should work quite OK:

  1. Type something in English into the search bar (or Chinese directly).
  2. Use the translate button to translate that text to Chinese. I put, ‘driving a ferrari’ => ‘驾驶法拉利’ . Select the CC button, and click the search button
  3. Open any video, you should have Chinese primary subtitles, and if enabled in the settings, and English/German/French etc. translation.

All YT videos are in theory supported (as long as they have some kind of captions). You’re not limited to a catalogue. Later, if we accumulate some data about youtube videos, we can make a more powerful search methods that could be more convenient.

We’ll put a new update online shortly (1 week?) that should be more stable than the current code.

Thanks for feedback, it really helps!

btw Pinyin is coming for Chinese, for LLN and LLY, as soon as LLY is mostly stable.

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