Category Archives: Learning Other Languages

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:

  • available in multiple 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, Italian, German, English, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. (Italian seems to have fewer content than the other languages, and Portuguese appears to be in the works.) FluentU costs $15/month or $120/year for the Basic plan and $30/month or $240/year 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 nine 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, then FluentU will be a better deal especially on the Basic plan.

If you are learning Italian, there is currently more content available at Yabla.

If you are learning Japanese, Korean, or Russian, your only option is FluentU.

Let me know your thoughts on these websites!

 

This post was last updated March 2018.

 

Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Free Learning How to Learn MOOC on Coursera

Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Learning How to Learn is a free MOOC available through Coursera. It is a self-paced course which just started January 4, 2016, and I highly recommend it if you have trouble studying or remembering what you study. It includes valuable information about how your brain and memory work, and offers advice on how to study, take notes, conquer procrastination, etc. as well as what is NOT good for learning, i.e. constant re-reading and too much highlighting, for example.

This course is actually one of the most popular courses on Coursera, and the instructors deliver the content in a great way. While this course is broad enough to encompass learning material for various subjects, they do mention learning languages and the techniques are just as valid for learning languages as for learning math or science. One technique is the Pomodoro technique. Basically, you should study for 25 minutes (set a timer), and then take a 5 minute break – to stretch, exercise, have a snack, or just relax – and then do another 25 minute session, followed by another 5 minute break, and so on.

They also mention spaced repetition, which you are probably familiar with if you use Anki, Memrise, and other online study websites. The idea is to space out your learning and study over time rather than trying to cram and memorize everything at once. It is better to let your brain rest for a day or two and then repeat the material in order to really learn it.

The course is only 4 weeks long and new sessions start often if aren’t able to keep up with the quizzes this time around. The course is based on the book A Mind for Numbers, written by one of the instructors, Dr. Barbara Oakley. It is not required for the course, but it does delve deeper into the topic of learning math and science.

Learning How to Learn is based on the book A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley

Let me know if you’ve taken this MOOC and what your thoughts are on it.

Scandinavian Languages

Three Scandinavian Languages Compared

Learn Scandinavian Languages Together

Here’s another multilingual video: three Scandinavian languages compared. You can learn basic phrases in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish (phrases presented in that order). Recordings were created by native speakers from southern Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Tack / takk / tak to Krystallia, Celine, Anders and Bjørn!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Youtube channel for more language videos, and check out 25 Basic Phrases in Four Romance Languages for more multilingual goodness.

If you prefer text-based learning, I am still adding Danish to the Germanic Vocabulary lists, but the lists definitely include German, Dutch and Swedish right now. Hopefully I can add Norwegian sometime soon as well.

Do you know of any other resources to learn the Scandinavian languages together? Preferably ones created for English speakers?

Learn Swedish with Swedish Language Tutorial by ielanguages.com

Learn Swedish with Swedish Language Tutorial

Do you want to learn Swedish?

Swedish Language Tutorial is now available for purchase in PDF format or as a print-on-demand paperback!

This tutorial includes the original vocabulary and grammar review, the authentic listening resources with transcriptions and translations (formatted line by line with the English directly below the Swedish for easier reading/listening), and Swedish realia photos taken in Sweden. The mp3s to accompany the tutorial (and labelled by page number) are available to download for free at ielanguages.com/swedish-audio/ or if you order the e-book, they are included in the download as a .rar file

The PDF e-book is available for $21 USD through Gumroad, while the coil-bound paperback is available for $31 USD + shipping through Lulu.com. You can also preview the book, including the table of contents, at Lulu’s site.

Purchase of the paperback book includes the e-book for free. Simply forward your Lulu.com receipt to ielanguages@gmail.com

You will also receive free lifetime updates to the e-book, including audio files, as they are made available.

Buy the PDF e-book (Gumroad):
Buy Swedish Language Tutorial e-book

 

Buy the coil-bound paperback (Lulu.com):

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Visit the ielanguages.com Store for more information.

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

If you want to learn the Romance languages together, you need to use resources that compare the languages.

Romance language books written in English

One of the oldest books intended to help you learn the Romance languages together is Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Languages by Edwin A. Notley. This book was published in 1868 so it’s in the public domain and you can download a PDF that I created. Since it is so old, however, there are few spellings and words that are no longer used in the contemporary languages, so you will need to augment your study with more recent materials. Some copies show up on amazon.com every once in a while, but at a ridiculous price ($1,500!)

The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages by Frederick Bodmer actually compares four Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) as well as four Germanic languages (German, Dutch, Swedish and Danish), and offers advice on how to study multiple languages at the same time. Though a bit outdated, it is still my favorite book. You can get a copy at amazon.com for a relatively cheap price. I previously posted a review of this book if you’d like to know more.

Learn the Romance Languages Together - The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages

The Seven Sieves: How to read all the Romance languages right away by EuroCom is a new initiative to promote intercomprehension of Romance languages. You can buy the book in PDF or paperback through Shaker Verlag (site in German) and the paperback through amazon.com.

Another great book is Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian by O.H. Heatwole. The main drawback is that there are only three languages, and since it’s out of print, it can be a bit difficult to find online. Third-party sellers do sell it on Amazon but it’s usually rather expensive.

Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian

 

Romance language books not written in English

EuRom5 (2011) is the most recent multilingual book I’ve seen yet. It focuses on learning to read and comprehend five Romance languages. The book is written in French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese (so it is designed for native/advanced users of any of those languages) with texts and audio files available on the website. You can buy it from dicoland.com or hoepli.it for under 30€. Amazon.fr also sells it for 30-40€ and a few copies are available on amazon.com. This book is not quite as “comparative” as the other books in the list since it offers 20 articles in one language with some words glossed in the other 4 languages (i.e. the entire articles are not translated in the other languages). You can also read my summary/review.

One of my multilingual books: EuRom5 - Read and Understand Five Romance Languages

Comprendre les langues romanes: Du français à l’espagnol, au portugais, à l’italien & au roumain. Méthode d’intercompréhension by Paul Teyssier (2004) is obviously written in French for French-speakers to learn to comprehend Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. A new edition came out in 2012, but I don’t know if/how it is different from the 2004 edition, which is what I bought. Both editions are available via amazon.com or amazon.fr or you can order it from Librairie Portugaise & Brésilienne in Paris for 29€, and they do ship worldwide. I believe translations of this book in the other languages exist, but I’m not sure where to buy them.

One of my multilingual books: Comprendre les langues romanes - Understand the Romance languages

 

Romance language resources at ielanguages.com

If you want to study vocabulary lists to learn the Romance languages, I have many lists available at Romance Languages Vocabulary Lists as well as some verb conjugations. The tables are set up so that English is first, followed by French, Italian, Spanish and then Portuguese. I chose this order due to how similar the languages are to each other. However, this may not be the order that you want to study the Romance languages in. Luckily, you can drag the columns in any order that you like! Simply click on the name of the language in the first column and drag it left or right. You can also hide/show languages that you are not studying or when you want to quickly test your memory. A few topics also have fill-in-the-blank exercises, such as days of the week:

Multilingual vocabulary lists - Days in the Romance languages available at ielanguages.com

Lastly, I’ve been creating videos that teach French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese together. (I have also created a few videos to teach French and Spanish together.) Subscribe to the Youtube channel to be notified when any new videos are available.

I am really interested in finding other books, websites, or videos that help you learn the Romance languages together. Has anyone found other useful resources?

Learn Spanish and Portuguese Together

Learn Spanish and Portuguese at the Same Time

Do you want to learn Spanish and Portuguese at the same time?

Or do you already speak Spanish and want to learn Portuguese?

The latest addition to ielanguages.com is the Foreign Service Institute course From Spanish to Portuguese.

I’ve just finished converting it to HTML, and I’ve included HTML5 audio players – but note that only the Portuguese words and phrases were recorded for the original course. If any Spanish speakers want to add the Spanish recordings, please let me know. I’m also planning on adding English translations of everything for those who are still learning Spanish.

Intercomprehension of Romance Languages

Intercomprehension of Romance Languages

Learning to Comprehend the Romance Languages

If you understand French and are interested in learning other Romance languages, the MOOC Enseigner l’intercompréhension en langues romanes à un jeune public might be helpful. This MOOC, or CLOM in French, begins November 10, 2015, and lasts 4 weeks. It is designed for language teachers and students or anyone who is interested in multilingualism.

The concept of intercomprehension refers to the ability of users of closely related languages to understand each other thanks to linguistic similarities. It appears that this particular MOOC will focus on the six main Romance languages of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Romanian. Since it is developed by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the language used to teach about intercompréhension is French.

You can sign up now to join the MOOC.

 

Related:

Comparative Vocabulary and Verb Lists: Romance and Germanic Languages

Comparative and Multilingual Books for Learning Languages Simultaneously

Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Available as PDF

FluentU Review

FluentU Review: Language Learning with Authentic Videos

FluentU Review: Great site for authentic videos

If you haven’t been using authentic videos with transcripts to learn languages, you are missing out on an effective way to increase your comprehension of spoken language as well as your knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical patterns. One website that offers many authentic videos and that I highly recommend is FluentU.

FluentU currently offers videos in French, Spanish, German, English, Chinese and Japanese, with Italian coming soon. As you can see in the screenshots, you can easily choose the difficulty level as well as the format of videos you are interested in: clips, movie trailers, commercials, etc.

The transcript and translation appears below the video and hovering over a word also shows the translation of that word. FluentU recently released their iPad app if you are a mobile learner, with an Android app also in development.

There is currently a free option if you’d like to create an account to check out the videos and captions. The Basic plan, which includes unlimited watching and listening with interactive captions, only costs $15 per month or $120 per year. The Plus plan costs $30 per month or $240 per year and also includes unlimited personalized learn mode, courses, flashcard sets and PDF printouts of the transcripts. Also note that you have access to ALL languages on FluentU rather than only one language so it is great for learners of multiple languages. You can change languages in Settings under Study Settings.

Learn French and Spanish Together

Learn French and Spanish Together

Do you want to learn French and Spanish at the same time (or Spanish and French together)?

I have started creating videos to help you learn these two languages at the same time.

I plan to create a comparative tutorial similar to French & Italian and French & German, but for now I am concentrating on Youtube videos. If you’d like to learn four Romance languages together, I’ve also created a basic phrases video and you can check out the Romance Languages Vocabulary Lists or Verb Conjugation Lists.

I am also planning to convert some of the mp3s from various language tutorials into Youtube videos for easier learning on mobile devices. So far, I’ve created a video on learning the Spanish alphabet:

And a few on conjugating verbs in the present and preterite tenses:

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Youtube channel so you’ll be notified when I upload new videos!

Learning German from Trashcans in Vienna, Austria

My European trip began in Vienna since I was working at the New Zealand & Pacific Studies conference at the beginning of July. Michelle then joined me afterwards and we stayed in Vienna for another 5 days. I hadn’t been to Vienna since 1999, so it was nice to refresh my memory of how great this city is. We stayed at Stanys Hotel & Apartments close to Westbahnhof since we arrived by train from Munich and would be doing a day trip to Budapest with an early morning start. (Note that Westbahnhof will no longer serve trains as of December 2015. All trains will be rerouted to Hauptbahnhof instead.)

Wandering around Vienna, I was most struck by how many people were smoking everywhere and how even restaurants did not have smoking bans indoors. It had been such a long time since I was in a place that had smoking and non-smoking sections and it was not pleasant. I heard on the news that a smoking ban will come into effect in 2018, but I can’t imagine it will be strictly enforced since Austria is unfortunately the smoking capital of Europe. 🙁

The other thing that I noticed was the trashcans with witty sayings on them (in German, obviously) encouraging people to take care of their waste and not litter. Apparently they have been around since 2009, and the sayings were decided by an internet vote. In any case, they are quite helpful and entertaining when learning German. Can you understand what they mean?

Austrian trash can  Austrian trash can

Austrian trash can  Austrian trash can

The last one should be relatively easy since it includes the name of the city and an English word…

Here are some hints:

füttern – to feed

Beifall – cheers, applause, acclaim

Abfall – waste

die Uhr – the clock

geöffnet – open

bleibt – remains, stays