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Review of: Yabla
Use: Language immersion through video for Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, English, French, German, and Italian.
Digital immersion through videos
$9.95 for a 1 month subscription
Time is up to you. Videos are 3-10 minutes long
Ease of Use
Site and video player are easy to use
Videos are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.
- Videos available for 6 Langauges
- Slow playback and loop controls for videos
- Some videos are specifically for language learning
- Built in flashcard system
I Don't Like
- No speaking required
- Some videos are dated
- Very little course structure
- You have to pay for separate subscription for each language
Yabla allows you to watch videos in 6 foreign languages with subtitles, translations, and special playback features. The main purpose of the site is to teach you new vocabulary and grammar via native videos. The videos range from documentaries, tv shows, to cartoons.
Yabla is best for beginner and intermediate learners and is best used as a supplement to your Language learning method or course. It lacks the structure needed to be a course itself.
Subscription plans starting at $9.95 a month
No matter what language you may be learning you're liking to run into some common problems. Up through about half way of my Spanish learning journey I struggled with two big problems: Remembering new words and being able to understand native speakers. Once I got a handle on a particular part of Spanish speech, like the present tense for example,
I’d try to learn as many new words as I could. The trouble was making them stick. I’d know the right conjugations but outside of the basic words I used on a regular basis I struggled to retain others.
If you’re learning a foreign language this may sound all too familiar. The truth is, it's a common problem to have. The solution is simple...practice. The more you use a new language the more comfortable you’ll feel with it. There’s no way around the consistency and hard work you need to become fluent.
Of course nothing beats talking with a native speaker. But it’s not always easy to find a person or the time. Also even if you get a good dose of conversation practice, sometimes it’s a great idea to use language in a different way to change things up so that your language practice doesn’t get boring…
That’s where today’s product review comes in. I’d like to introduce you to Yabla. Yabla makes it easy to learn new words in context and practice listening to native speakers.
Is Yabla right for you?
Videos available in 6 languages
Yabla offers video based learning content for French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, and English. So you may want to consider it if you’re learning these languages. In this article we’re going to be focusing on their Spanish videos.
Number of Videos
Hours of Video
Yes for beginners and intermediates
We recommend Yabla to anyone from the beginner to the upper intermediate level. Yabla is short on structure and lacks any sort of course track. If you’re an absolute beginner you may feel a little lost at first. Also, highly advanced students could also find even the more difficult videos a little redundant.
Yabla is used for many school language programs
Yes if you want to review and practice
With over 1,000 videos for each of its 6 languages, Yabla is an ideal tool for reviewing or practice. The videos strike a good balance between being easy enough but not too easy.
Their videos are sorted by difficulty and cover a range of topics from documentaries, short films, news, music videos, cartoons, to telenovela/soap opera episodes.
Yabla’s Video player
In addition to the usual play and pause buttons, Yabla lets you skip ahead in a video by phrase and loop a particular part of the video. The most useful control is the slow playback button which lets you listen and watch the video at a slower speed. The slow play button comes in handy when a speaker is talking fast and you have trouble understanding them. Playing the video back at slow speed is good listening practice too.
Subtitles & definitions
Yabla’s video player displays subtitles under the video in both your foreign language and English. You have the option to show just English or foreign subtitles. You can also hide both subtitles all together. You can click on any other subtitles while the video is playing and Yabla will pause the video and bring up the word’s definition to the left of the player.
The video player also has a games tab which uses video clips from the video you’re watching to make mini games like fill in the blank or multiple choice. In these games there’s usually a missing word in the subtitles and you have to listen to the video and guess which it is. This feature is similar to lyricstraining.com.
Yabla has an in-site flashcard system. You build flashcard sets each time you watch a video. Every time you click on a word it’s automatically added to the flashcard system. You can then go back and review those words with the flashcards.
The flashcards show the text of the word and plays an audio dictation. You simply click if you remembered what it meant. After you click you’re shown the correct definition. The flashcards seem like they run on a basic spaced repetition program, but I can’t tell for sure.
Yabla also has a section on their site called “lessons” (I use that term lightly). They’re really more like short blog posts. They cover a particular aspect of a language (usually grammar or vocabulary). This section of the site feels very last minute and thrown together. The lessons aren’t categorized in any sort of way and the info is pretty scant. However they do include video clips that demonstrate whatever the lesson is teaching, which is cool.
Yabla offers 3 monthly subscription options. The first is a single month subscription for $9.95, second is a 6 month subscription for $54.95, and finally you can purchase a 1 year subscription for $99.95.
Which subscription is the best?
Even though you save some money per month under the longer plans, we recommend you try out Yabla for 1 month before you commit to a longer subscription. You don’t want to make an impulse buy and then get stuck which a subscription to a site you’re not going to use.
If you try it for a month and like it, then you can consider the other subscription options.
No free trial
Unfortunately Yabla doesn’t offer a free trial. You can try out 3 or 4 of their videos here before signing up, but you can only get the full experience by buying a monthly subscription.
They do have a 14 day money back guarantee. If you buy a subscription and change your mind about using the site, all you have to do is cancel your subscription within 14 days and you get a full refund. Canceling is easy and can be done with one click.
Digital Immersion: Yabla’s biggest Strength
Yabla’s video content allows a sort of digital immersion. You can watch real native language media while increasing your vocabulary and developing your listening and comprehension skills. Vocabulary and listening skills are half the battle when it comes to language learning, making Yabla a powerful learning tool.
It’s one thing to learn what a word means, or discover a new grammar point or verb conjugation. It’s a whole another thing to find them used in a real life context, especially when you’re watching a video and you can pause, playback, or slow down the experience.
At Spanish Hackers we often say that learning Spanish is like riding a bike, you mainly learn by using it. Yabla videos and video player make it is easy to gain valuable experience in the Spanish language, or whichever language you're learning.
Educational video content
Another cool thing about Yabla is that some of their videos are made especially for language learners. There are still a ton of regular videos that are regular native media and entertainment videos, but it’s great to have the option to watch videos that are specifically made to help you learn. Some of these videos are made by Yabla themselves.
Yabla testimonial from a high school teacher
No way to practice speaking
The other half of learning a foreign language is having the ability to express yourself by speaking. Yabla has no feature or tool to let you do this (the best tool to use for this is always a human).
If you decide to use Yabla for what it’s good at: learning vocabulary and practicing listening; make sure you set aside time to practice everything you learn with native speakers.
Much like its competitor FluentU, Yabla is best used as a learning tool rather than a course. Yabla will tell you which videos are for beginners or intermediates but they won’t tell you which video you should work through first, second, third, etc.
The site is designed so that you browse through all the content and pick which video you like.
You have to pay to switch languages
Unlike Fluentu, Yabla doesn’t allow you to switch between their languages without buying an additional subscription.
If you purchase a monthly subscription (like Spanish) and half way through you decide you also want to learn one of their other languages (let's say German); you will have to pay for your Spanish subscription as well as a new one for German. If you’re only learning Spanish this isn’t a big a deal.
Still, it would be nice to have the option to switch between languages at no extra cost. If you’re learning multiple languages Fluentu might be a better choice than Yabla.
While there’s a lot of great content on Yabla, some of it is pretty old. A lot of the telenovelas and other TV related stuff looks like it’s from the 1980’s. Other videos look more recent, and it looks like there have been newer ones added. But I think Yabla could stand to update their content by adding more recent videos.
Best way to use Yabla
Yabla is best used as a learning tool to supplement your regular language learning. It can be a very effective resource for reinforcing what you know and discovering some new things along the way.
However, It is not a comprehensive language course. You’d be hard pressed to speak a language fluently by only using Yabla. Use it alongside a course or regular language lessons for the greatest benefit.
What other people are saying about Yabla
The content is authentic, varied, and enjoyable. Also the length of the videos is manageable and non-intimidating, even for a beginner!
In fact, one of Yabla’s perks is that it’s not just for beginners. It can sometimes be hard to find suitable content once you get beyond beginner level – but Yabla has the goods to keep you covered.
Alternatives to Yabla
Lyricstraining is a free site that helps you learn vocabulary through music videos with subtitles. The site is set up as a game. Some of the subtitles will be missing and as a video is played you have to type in the missing words in real time.
FluentU is very a site very similar to Yabla. FluentU can be a little more expensive but also lets you switch between languages, which Yabla doesn't do.
Spanishpod101 uses primarily audio lessons in a podcast format. It has flashcards, vocabulary, and word sheets. It is divided into units and lessons and is more structured than Yabla.
Yabla is an affordable and effective tool for learning Spanish or anyone of their 6 foreign languages. While it’s lack of structure prevent it from being an all out language course, it works great if you use it to review and practice. There’s a ton of videos on the site, and the site itself is easy to use on mobile or on your computer. Yabla’s easy 14-day money back guarantee is also great if you decide the site isn’t right for you.
At the end of the day Yabla is a pretty cool site and we recommend you check it out.