In case you haven't discovered Yabla...
I recently finished Fluenz French, a great program for building foundations in grammar. To reach the "next level" I must focus heavily on speaking and listening, but I've found it can be quite frustrating to find French videos where the subtitles match exactly what you hear.
Two days ago I stumbled across: french.yabla.com
Check out their free sample videos, like this one. Note that the subtitles are interactive and you can click on words to study them further. You can pause, loop, or slow down each segment. Also note that you're hearing "real-world" French, slurred words and all, with videos that are more interesting than a lot of the stuff you'll find on YouTube.
I can't speak for everyone because we all have different learning styles, but for me, this approach is exactly what the doctor ordered. I've got a full page of new words/expressions that I've learned and that's just from the intro video! Only 640 more to go!
Disclaimers: 1) It's not free -- $10/mo (less if you go with longer-term plans). 2) Though this post kinda sounds like an ad, I don't work for Yabla or know anyone who does.
Yabla could use some work on the UI, lessons, and games, all of which are pretty dry and not very polished. Interestingly, Duolingo really shines in all those areas -- imagine if they joined forces to create the ultimate learning platform!
Thanks for this! Yabla really suits my learning style too.
I've tried the French in Action series (free on Youtube), which is useful, but find I learn more when I can see the words written down, both the French and the English translation.
The Yabla lessons seem interesting too. I note that in one of them they quote Proust, with the aim of inspiring you to write in French. How cool is that?
Exactly, the videos are actually pretty interesting! Re: French in Action, I'm on episode 8... and while I'm OK with its approach I find myself thinking, "Is this the best I can do, something produced when I was a toddler?" Plus that know-it-all student in the classroom drives me insane :)
Oh, thank you, I want to throttle him! But I actually think that was the intention... no one could cast that smirk by mistake!
French In Action is old, but the fact that a series produced in the 1980s still gets wide acclaim and a lot of recommendations even today is just a testament to its success and quality. You might not like the Capretz method in FiA but I feel like saying it's old isn't a particularly compelling reason not to engage with it.
It's kind of annoying that the entire series is free to Americans and Canadians but I can't view it here from Australia. :(
Could you give us a review of Fluenz French? I've heard mixed things.
The short version: I swear by Fluenz when it comes to building a solid foundation, learning the "why"s behind this crazy but beautiful language. It's a big investment of time and effort, but it works.
The longer version: I reviewed it at Amazon if you want the full list of pros and cons. Click here for the review
I've dabbled in lots of different programs but I'd swear by this progression: a few levels of Fluenz to build the foundation, then mixing in Duolingo for variety and vocab, then adding Yabla for listening.
You're right, meetups are the next "big step" but I'll need a bit more time to get there -- I'm not good at making small talk with people in my own language, let alone a foreign language, so it's very intimidating. Plus I won't have the luxury of pausing or rewinding their words mid-sentence... well, I guess I could try but it probably wouldn't be appreciated :)
Just looking at Yabla, how much would you say is French and how much is French Canadian? Thanks! And also, on my first meet up I hardly said anything at all but people are very kind and asked me easy questions. Even if you're just listening, it's good practice.
I just did a quick search and out of 600+ videos, only 22 were explicitly labeled "Accent: French Canadian". Even fewer in West African, Moroccan, etc. I'm still figuring things out and have only watched about a dozen videos, but they've all been French-French so far.
That's great that your meetup went well. I think that's what I worry about, that they'll see me sitting on the sidelines and think it's strange that I'm just observing. I'm probably over-analyzing it.
Verbling is great too and Tandem (an app) is also very good. They are both free.
Another nice, free option is the Open Learning Initiative through Carnegie-Mellon. It's a good complement to learning online through other programs like Duolingo, etc.: https://oli.cmu.edu/jcourse/webui/guest/join.do?section=french
I saw Yabla before then changed my mind when I saw it cost money. I then read this an hour ago... and within ten minutes I signed up. I already saw one of my favorite french songs/ learned all the words, watched part of a documentary, and learned a ton of new words. It has been less than an hour!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
That's awesome, sounds like Yabla just "clicks" with your learning style like it does w/ mine. Enjoy!
Exactly. My top priority for now is being able to understand. So a program like this has the fastest word acquisition compared to anything else. all while seeing the grammar. I just hope that after all the listening when I move on to practicing speaking the transition will not be too difficult.
I love it. My spanish has advanced exceedingly. At first even the easy level was difficult because I was not use to listening to spanish and understanding but now I am in the advanced levels. They have several free videos so you can try that. I also like how clicking a word put it in a study dictionary for you. Definitely worth the $10 I believe.
Oh thats good, so it actually helped with listening comprehension, that's nice.
Hey again, how did you use it though? And do you reckon you can listen and understand anything in spanish or most? Cheers
At this point I can understand most Spanish accents. When I first started I was shocked that I could barely understand the beginner levels on Yabla because I had completed so many online courses. The problem was that my reading and writing was good but my listening was still at a beginner level. After many videos I began to understand conversation much better. I would watch the same video first without reading the subtitles then again pausing the clip to read the translations and once again without looking at the subtitles. By the third time I understood much more and caught specific phrases. I would then revisit the same video probably every few days but watch others as well. It honestly takes a lot of practice. I also use spanishobsessed.com and notesinspanish.com which a free podcasts for just listening. At first you will probably understand nothing but with continuous practice and focus (really focus), you can understand. Yabla has helped me understand so many Spanish conversations in real life. Accents can be so tricky sometimes.
Wow yeah it is work work work!, I'm gonna do that for french. I wish they had russian as well. To me the hardest part in language learning is listening as natives speak fast! Thanks