What if you could watch Youtube videos and learn French at the same time?
You could expand your vocabulary by listening to French music or learn to speak French like a real Parisian.
it’s now possible with FluentU.
The 747 videos currently available are organized by level (newbie, elementary, intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced, native), topics ( business, culture, art, everyday life…) and format (commercials, movie trailers, shows, news…).
Most beginner videos are educational videos created specifically for French learners; but as you get to a higher level, you get access to real spoken French.
This means you can easily transition from beginner French to a more advanced level where slow French is replaced by normal spoken French. That’s an awesome way to slowly improve your understanding of spoken French.
Why should I use FluentU instead of Youtube?
Okay so FluentU contains lots of great videos you can use to improve your French, but Youtube does too. So why not simply use Youtube?
When you watch videos on Youtube, you usually end up thinking:
- This looks like a cool video, I wish there were subtitles available so I could understand it
- This transcript doesn’t match what the person says at all, that’s so frustrating
- What did he just say? I wish I could loop the video and listen to it again or maybe slow it down
FluentU offers you all this. When you watch a video on FluentU, you get :
- French subtitles
- A transcript that matches the audio
- The translation fo each word as you hover your mouse on the French word
- A loop you can use to replay a part of the video
What’s super frustrating when you watch a video on Youtube is that subtitles often look like they were written by a drunk robot.
You don’t have this problem with FluentU, because each video is manually transcribed and translated. You can actually trust what’s written.
If you want, you can even download the transcript to review it later.
How to use FluentU to become a better French speaker
FluentU gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to learning. You can choose to show the transcript only, the translation only, both or none of them.
Here is what I recommend you to do:
- Watch the video without transcript or subtitle and focus on what you hear
- Add French subtitles and read while you watch.
- Only use the translation if you can’t understand without it.
This approach allows you to practice listening (1), practice reading and improve your pronunciation (2) and learn more vocabulary (3). Not bad for a simple video!
You may not understand anything during the first step, that’s not a problem ; simply focus on the sounds of the language and do your best to understand. Listening and learning to distinguish the different sounds is crucial to become a good French speaker.
You won’t have any subtitle in the real world anyway, so it makes sense to immediately get used to not having any.
If you really want to see the translation, I recommend you to simply hover over a word. When you do that, the translation and a few explanations show up.
You can also loop any part of a video and play it until you understand.
In addition, you can use the learn mode to learn specific words. With this mode, FluentU shows you different videos containing the word so you can learn it in context. That’s a cool way to learn the different meanings of a word.
Since you learn in context, you also know exactly how to use the word when the time to use it come and you don’t end up saying “baguette” instead “je voudrais une baguette” just because you learned the word but don’t know how to use it.
FluentU’s audio lessons
If you want to learn vocabulary around a specific theme, you can use FluentU’s audio lessons.
At the time of this review, there are no audio lessons for advanced learners. But the lessons for beginners all seem to follow the same format.
- A dialogue focussing on a specific theme (breakfast, introductions etc.)
- Slow French as audio
The rest works exactly like the video content. You are free to pause a video, hover over a word to see its translation etc.
The main advantage of audio lesson is that they use slow French. This may be easier for you to understand if you’re a beginner.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, studying with videos using real spoken French makes more sense as it will better prepare you for the real world.
FluentU’s French course
When you use FluentU, you’re free to watch or listen to any content you want.
However, you can also choose to take the French course. The French course isn’t a course as such, but rather a logical selection of content adapted to your level.
This means that the course is different for every user. This course allows you to learn French by building blocks.
You start with what you know, and progressively discover videos and audio with words you don’t know. Each video uses content from the previous lessons so you aren’t lost.
Learn vocabulary with FluentU’s flashcard system
You now know how to use FluentU to better understand spoken French and become a better French speaker.
But, what if you want to use it to learn vocabulary?
Should you write down all the new words in a notebook?
You could, but this wouldn’t be practical.
That’s why FluentU included a SRS system. A SRS system is a system that allows you to review words more or less frequently depending on how well you know them.
For example, if you know a word well, the app will only ask you to review it every three months. If you struggle to memorize a word, you will be asked to review it everyday.
So integrated in fact, that the words you don’t know show up in a different color when you watch a video.
For the review process itself, FluentU uses fill in the gaps exercices and translations.
A traditional flashcard system with the sentence in English on one side and the translation on the other side would have been better in my opinion, but this is already a great way to memorize vocabulary.
How much does FluentU cost?
FluentU is a premium product. You can use it on the free plan, but you won’t be able to watch as many videos as you want.
If you’re serious about learning French and struggle to understand spoken French, FluentU is a great investment starting at $8/month for the Basic plan and going up to$18/month for the Plus plan.
Should you use FluentU?
FluentU is one of the rare apps that succeeds in being fun and effective at the same time. If you want to better understand spoken French and expand your vocabulary, this is a must.
Disclosure: I’m a FluentU affiliate. This means that I earn a commission (at no additional cost for you) if you purchase the FluentU through my link.
Over to you
What do you think about FluentU? Tell us in the comment section below this article!