6 Top tips to help you learn Yoruba through Nigerian movies


The marmite of Nigerian entertainment, you either love it or you hate it.

If you’re reading this article you probably fall into one of those two categories, you’re either excited to watch nollywood movies with your Nigerian mother as they play on TV, or you’re dreading it as she reached for the Sky TV remote to put on a movie.

Whatever category you might be in, I’m going to give you my 6 top tips to help you learn Yoruba through Nigerian movies.

Top tip #1 – Choose a good movie

So you want to start watching Yoruba movies to learn Yoruba, and your first thought is to search for one on Netflix…

Calm down my friend,

It’s not everyday Netflix to find Yoruba movies, especially if you’re outside of Nigeria.

Some of the few Yoruba movies (where they actively speak Yoruba) that I found on Netflix were, MOKALIK, AYINLA & OGA BOLAJI. NB I’m not recommending them, just letting you know.

Let your Netflix account (abi your friend’s Netflix account) rest small, you have a huge selection of Yoruba movies on YouTube, all you need to do is type in the phrase “Yoruba Movies” and a large selection of them will pop up.

Top tip #2 – Set your expectations

If people could learn languages solely through watching movies, everybody and their uncles would be polyglots, the true magic of watching movies is helping to improve your listening skills.

Babies spend their first year not speaking but just soaking up the sounds around them, ready to mimick these sounds years later on.

So soak up the sounds and enjoy the movie,

Don’t stress yourself trying to understand every word.

So when you watch the wicked mother in-law putting sugar into her daughter-in-law’s eba “by mistake” in the movie, see this as your Yoruba listening training excercise.

Top tip #3 – Put on subtitles

Erm…make sure you have subtitles for the movie…

Ah ah now, how are you supposed to understand if you don’t have subtitles, I even use subtitles in English and it’s my first langauge…but I digress…

Fortunately many of the Yoruba movies on YouTube have subtitles on them, just remember that it’s not alway easy to directly translate from Yoruba to English, so some sentences won’t be direct translations.

Top tip #4 – Celebrate the steps

When you watch the movie you’re bound to hear one word that you already know (if not check out some of our Yoruba lessons to learn some phrases).

Being able to pick out a word from spoken Yoruba is a big deal, especially because Yoruba people use a lot of contractions so Yoruba doesn’t always sound how you would expect it to.

So celebrate and feel good that you were able to decipher the word.

Even if it’s a really common word like ‘ẹ káàárọ̀’ or ‘ẹ káàsán’, at least you even know it.

You start off by learning 1 word, then 10 words, then a 100 words…until you’re fluent

These are just your first steps

Top tip #5 – Note down any special phrases

During the movie you might hear something that really stands out to you, perhaps a phrase, a word, it could be anything.

When you hear it, pause the movie and note down how it sounded in Yoruba and the English translation in the bottom.

Note if you’re watching a movie with lots of other people, please don’t ruin the film by incessantly pausing and playing the movie again, but if you hear something you really like the sound of then I don’t see why not.

Plus it’s not your fault that you don’t speak Yoruba. When your parents didn’t teach it to you…

Top tip #6 – Rewatch the movie later on

I know, know, I said there are lots of Yoruba movies on YouTube, so you’re probably wondering why rewatch the movie when you could just choose another one?

Well, the thing is when you rewatch the movie the second time, you can concentrate a bit more on the dialogue and on what people are saying rather than trying to understand what is going on as you already know the plot.

You don’t have to rewatch the movie immediately, but it’s definitely something that you can consider.

And that’s it, those are my 6 tips on how you can learn Yoruba using nollywood and Yoruba movies, if you’re looking for some more tips on how to learn Yoruba, make sure to check out some of the Yoruba lessons on our site