As a person who has tried learning a foreign language, it can be tough and slow-going. There are a lot of different courses out there, but I’ve recently been exposed to a new offering called FluentU. FluentU really provides a novel way to learn a foreign language online.
Choose the language you’re interested in learning, and set your proficiency level, and then get started. They offer the following languages:
and the levels they provide are:
- Upper Intermediate
So you see there’s plenty of room to expand your foreign language skills.
Now the Good Part
Having spent a lot of time trying to learn a foreign language, in my case Spanish, it can be a real slog. The cool thing about FluentU is the way they’ve arranged the “classes”. If you want to learn in a passive way, there is audio for both words and their use in sentences. Once you’ve learned the lesson, you presented with quizzes. But they don’t feel like quizzes.
They are very interactive, from selecting the correct answer from multiple choices, typing the correct answer, to putting the words in the correct order to make a proper sentence. I think the typing and sentence word order questions are very useful. I’m guessing a psycholinguist (if that’s even a job) would say you’re exercising a different part of your brain, and that helps retain the information.
But wait, it gets better. There are hundreds of foreign language YouTube videos that you can watch on your personalized FluentU portal. These cover the typical nouns, and verbs, but the thing I really like is that there are videos that you can watch which cover topics which include:
- Arts and Entertainment
- Everyday Life
- Health and Lifestyle
- Politics and Society
- Science and Tech
And all of these different topics is given further depth as you can select the format you want to watch. You can sign up for free too!
- Movie Trailers
- Music Videos
- Talks / Speeches
These are real-life types of things that you would be exposed to in a different country, and they definitely add depth to the learning. They really help the learner develop an “ear” for the language.
And since it’s a YouTube type of interface, I can bounce around to any topic/subject I want. I’m not even limited to the proficiency that I selected when I first signed up. The videos are subtitled, so you see the translation in the context of the what is displayed on-screen. The ability to learn what you want to learn, when you want to learn it is fantastic, and will help keep you motivated.
Sidenote about using Chrome with FluentU: By default, Chrome attempts to translate a page if it’s not in your native language. There were times that Chrome would translate the Spanish into English (one of the few times when I do not want a translation). The text that you should see in Spanish gets translated to English automatically, and that’s not what you want.
The first time you see go to a FluentU page with Spanish (or any of the other supported languages), you may see something at the top of the browser window which looks like:
and on the far right, you’ll see the Options area.
Click on it the drop arrow, and select “Never translate this site“. Now Chrome won’t bother you with translating the content. Note that this is a Chrome issue, and not a problem with FluentU.
FluentU is fairly new, but I’m impressed with not only the amount of learning materials available, and interesting formats, but the customized environment that tracks my learning progress. The amount of content is amazing, and the folks at FluentU are continually adding more. If you need to learn a new language, and you’re tired of the same old online learning classes, give FluentU a try.
Discolsure: We were provided free access to the program in exchange for an honest review.