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FluentU vs Yabla Language Learning with Authentic Video

FluentU vs Yabla – Language Learning with Authentic Video

FluentU vs Yabla for Learning Languages through Video Immersion

FluentU and Yabla are subscription websites for learning languages with authentic videos. Because they include subtitles (as well as English translations), the videos are a great way to improve your comprehension and learn new vocabulary. In this FluentU vs Yabla review, we’ll start with what both websites offer and then focus on the advantages of one over the other.

Features of both FluentU and Yabla:

  • currently available in six languages
  • ability to show or hide the subtitles and English translation
  • click on a word to see the translation, and add it to a set of flashcards to review later
  • play short sections in loops if you want to focus on a particular phrase or sentence
  • a large library of videos with new videos added each week
  • free videos to check them out before committing to a paid subscription
  • schools/classroom subscriptions for teachers who want to assign videos as homework and track their students’ progress

FluentU

FluentU offers videos in Spanish, French, German, English, Chinese, and Japanese. (Italian is planned but there is no exact date yet when it will be available.) FluentU costs $15/month for the basic plan and $30/month for the plus plan.

FluentU prices

The video interface is quite neat and clean, with the translations appearing when you hover over the word. Clicking on the word gives you more sample sentences and the option to add the word to a flashcard set.

FluentU vs Yabla Video Interface

If you are learning several languages, then FluentU will be perfect for you because your subscription gives you access to ALL languages. Fifteen dollars a month to learn six languages is a pretty great deal.

Yabla

Yabla offers videos in Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, and Chinese. Yabla costs $9.95 a month, BUT each language is a separate subscription, i.e. if you wanted to subscribe to both Spanish and French, you would need to pay $9.95/month two times.

Yabla prices

The video interface includes the dictionary on the right if you click on a word, as well as options to slow the video down and play a vocabulary game:

FluentU vs Yabla Language Learning with Authentic Video

Note that you can use the dictionary to look up any words, not just those that are used in the video you are watching.

How to Choose between FluentU and Yabla

I recommend both websites because they offer invaluable exposure to authentic language. So is there a clear winner in the FluentU vs Yabla competition? The best way to decide between the two basically depends on how many and which languages you are learning:

If you are learning only one language (either Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, or Chinese), then Yabla will be slightly cheaper.

If you are learning two or more languages (Spanish, French, German, English, Chinese, and Japanese), then FluentU will be a better deal especially on the Basic plan.

Of course, if you are learning Italian, your only option for now is Yabla.

Likewise, if you are learning Japanese, your only option is FluentU.

Let me know your thoughts on these websites!

 

Pythagora Educational Videos in French

Pythagora is a French-language video platform with the slogan “Apprenez, découvrez et révisez comme vous voulez” (Learn, discover and review as you want). You can create an account and test out the beta version for free right now, but the regular subscription will be 5,99€ per month. In addition to the videos, there are also multiple choice questions and some “fiches” of information. Since the videos tend to be study materials for the Bac and Brevet, they are mostly designed for native or advanced speakers in the French education system.

The videos are grouped into the “chaînes” of Bac Français, Maths Brevet, Histoire Bac, Education média, Philosophie, Economie, Histoire des arts, Géographie Brevet, Histoire Brevet, Géographie Bac as well as two channels for learning English. The Bac Français channel has several videos on literature, but also a series on Les fautes qui tuent which explains common mistakes.

Pythagora Educational Videos in FrenchUnfortunately there are no subtitles for the videos so they may be difficult to follow if you struggle to understand spoken French.

Mooc Videos and Subtitles for Language Learning

Using MOOC Videos and Subtitles to Learn Languages

Free MOOC Videos and Subtitles for Learning Languages

Although there don’t seem to be any MOOCs on the major provider platforms for learning languages (Update: Finally, they do exist!), Coursera does offer courses in French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, etc. that you can use to help you learn the language. Most, if not all of them, provide subtitles for the videos so you can watch and read at the same time.

EdX has also started offering courses in Spanish and French, but unlike Coursera there is no option to sort courses by the language they are offered in so you will need to choose from the Schools & Partners list. For example, UAM, UC3M, UPValencia, OEC and IDB are all Spanish-speaking institutions while Louvain and EPFL are French-speaking.

Several courses in French and Spanish are available via FUN and Miríada X while iversity has a few courses in German. These platforms are more likely to offer subtitles since they are designed for native speakers of these languages.

Spanish language courses on Coursera

The great thing about Coursera is how easy it is to download all of the videos and subtitles at once. After joining a course, go to the Videos page that lists all of the available lectures. Using the free DownThemAll add-on for Firefox, you can download all of the files by using the Fast Filtering option to select only the videos and subtitles. (The subtitles are in .srt format and not hard coded into the videos so you can turn them off to test your comprehension.)

Down Them All Add-On for Firefox

FYI: Even if a course has already finished, sometimes you can still enroll and have access to the videos within the class archive.

Adding Subtitles to Online Videos with Amara for Language Learning

Listening while reading a transcript of what is said is the best way to improve overall comprehension as well as pronunciation. Extensive listening and reading also contribute to vocabulary acquisition. I have previously talked about TV series and movies that may include subtitles, but what about online videos? Youtube does have an automatic closed captioning feature (that is notoriously bad) but you cannot add subtitles to videos that you did not upload. Luckily, Amara and crowdsourcing exist to fill that gap.

amara

Amara, formerly called Universal Subtitles, is a tool for subtitling videos found on Youtube, Vimeo or coded with HTML5. You simply paste the video URL to add it to Amara, and then you and/or anyone else can add subtitles in any language. You can also link your Youtube account to Amara so that the subtitles appear on Youtube itself without having to use the embed code provided by Amara. (If the owner of the Youtube channel hasn’t synced to Amara, then the subtitles are only available through Amara.) You can also download the subtitles in many formats – SRT is the most common – through Amara, which is useful if you download the video and watch it through VLC Player.

For example, here is a video on my Youtube channel with subtitles that I added in Amara. You can watch it through either Amara or Youtube, and either way the subtitles appear.

Now here’s a video that I helped add subtitles to – but since the owner of the Youtube channel to which this video was uploaded has not synced to Amara, the subtitles are only available if you watch the video through Amara rather than Youtube. Usually this doesn’t pose a problem as long as embedding is allowed through Youtube.

Amara is a great tool though it does have a few minor problems. I can’t seem to delete any videos that were added automatically from my Youtube channel (such as travel videos that are silent) or videos that I added only to find out embedding was not allowed. The subtitle sync tool is a bit buggy and hard to use. The search feature is not very good, and it is not possible to simply browse videos in a certain language. You can choose to sort by spoken language and subtitle language, but you must also type in a search term. Sometimes people have identified the video incorrectly. I came across some English and German videos even though I sorted by Dutch for both spoken and subtitled language. One video had numerous misspellings and typos though, as if the subtitler didn’t speak the language well. (This is one of the major problems with crowdsourcing: quality control.) Finding videos that include subtitles of the spoken language can be a pain, but I do believe that Amara will get better over time as more native or advanced speakers help to add subtitles.

Amara emphasizes the need to make videos accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as reaching as many viewers as possible by translating and subtitling into other languages. Yet they don’t seem to emphasize how extremely important subtitles are to language learning. And it isn’t simply watching/listening and reading at the same time that helps language acquisition. Adding subtitles to videos can also be a language learning exercise.

First, request a transcript of a video on Rhinospike. Once someone has provided the transcript, you can then add the subtitles to the video on Amara by copying and pasting. You must listen a few times to make sure the subtitles are synced correctly to the video, so it’s a way of making sure you repeat the material over and over. As a bonus, you are making more resources available to other language learners AND helping out the deaf population who truly need subtitles.

I’ll continue to try out Amara for subtitling the French Listening Resources videos. I am also requesting transcripts of videos in other languages on Rhinospike so that I can add subtitles in Amara and create listening resources for Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch.