I often encourage language-learners to use television series that interest them as a listening exercise. This is easy enough if they have satellite television, use file-sharing programs to download shows, or can find a past season of a show on dvd. But these options are expensive, technically illegal, or difficult. Hulu, the online video service, can be a great resource. It offers streaming video of television programs and movies from several major media outlets. Unfortunately the service is unavailable outside the United States, so some technical trickery is necessary.

Here's a simple way to get around Hulu's (and similar services') block on access outside the US:

1) Download and install Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is a free program designed to secure wifi internet connections. It sets up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that sends your data through secure 'tunnels', even if you're not using wifi.
2) Start Hotspot Shield
It will open a browser window. You can ignore this but don't close it. A minor annoyance: it places a frame of advertising above the sites you access while connected; clicking the close button on the frame also disconnects the VPN connection.
3) Go to the sites you want to unblock. You should be able to access Hulu and Pandora, as well as other services available only in the USA.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License This site is the work of L. Hornbake, with participation by students.