In the overwhelming sea of language learning apps, most apps don’t offer anything new.
FluentU and Yabla are different.
With both, you can learn a language by watching interesting videos.
The language spoken in the videos, is the real-life version of the language. Not the overly formal language most apps serve you. (Which is good for beginners, but not so much for intermediate learners and above.)
Instead of sitting crooked, sweating above (and on) your textbooks, with these tools you can enjoy entertaining videos and then learn from them by playing games or quizzes.
These tools make learning through video content a heck of a lot easier than how it used to be years ago.
In fact, it used to be a pain:
Sometimes it would take you an hour to find an interesting video in your target language. Only to quickly put your head in your hands upon finding out you didn’t understand a word they were saying. In other words, the video was way above your level.
The opposite would also happen frequently.
Videos you could have actually learned stuff from…
Except that they were so dry, you’d have rather done 150 math exercises!
Needless to say: it used to be hard to find videos that are both interesting and useful.
No wonder many language learners refrained from using video in their language learning…
That was Then, This is Now
This means that both of the above agonizing scenarios are now dust from a distant past.
That is: if you’re willing to invest in your language learning and pay the monthly fee both services charge. (You can find the costs of both lower down the page.)
If you’ve come to this page, chances are you’ve already decided you want to give language learning with video a try.
So, let’s find out which of these two services suit your needs in the best possible way.
Time to compare FluentU with Yabla:
One of the first things you look at in a language tool is if it actually covers the language you want to learn. (Duh!)
With both Yabla and FluentU you can learn six different languages. But if you want to learn Japanese with Yabla, you’re out of luck.
Likewise, FluentU doesn’t have many videos in Italian, but Yabla does.
Yabla is cheaper, but if you want to switch languages you’ll have to buy another subscription.
FluentU still gives you access to all their languages, but for a higher monthly fee.
Languages You Can Learn With FluentU
Languages You Can Learn With Yabla
|Chinese (Mandarin)||Chinese (Mandarin)|
On the face of it, it seems that the Yabla team is content with the six languages their App offers.
FluentU—on the other hand—is expanding all the time.
Apart from the six main languages, their library now includes:
- 154 in Italian
- 300 in English for Japanese speakers
- and more than 545 videos in English for Korean speakers
Verdict: I used to say here “FluentU win.” In reality, it depends entirely on which language you want to learn.
If you’re going to use video in your language learning, you’d better make sure the videos are interesting.
When it comes to the respective libraries of content, both have enough videos to keep you busy.
For the languages they both offer, FluentU has more videos (except for German). However, the length of the videos plays an important role as well:
Yabla’s dashboard not only states the number of videos that are available in a language, but also the total length (in hours and minutes) of the library.
Unfortunately, FluentU only tells you the number of videos, so it’s very hard to say which one has more content. As it stands, I have to give the advantage to FluentU.
Personally, I prefer Yabla’s videos because their content is much more interesting.
FluentU only offers videos from YouTube. Yabla, on the other hand, also produce their own videos and has licensed content such as Italian programs from RAI, Spanish programs from Caracol and German programs from Studio Hamburg.
One great aspect of the Yabla library is that it has its fair share of TV series (and even complete movies and TV shows). Not necessarily famous series, but they’re entertaining all the same. I’ve had a lot of fun with them.
You can watch complete TV series and work on your new language at the same time. The curiosity of “what happens next” can serve as a great motivator to keep you going.
Yabla tends to be more aimed at adults and some videos have “viewer discretion advised” warnings. And whether you like it or not, reading that instantly makes the video a lot more interesting. 😉
Even so, Yabla also has plenty of content for children. In fact, in Spanish and Italian, they have full series of animated children’s programming.
Additionally, you can turn on either mild or strict filtering, and hide videos that are less suitable for kids. The strictest filter is stronger than the standards of the average television station.
In short: I like Yabla a lot more when it comes to the actual video content.
Verdict: Yabla win
With either FluentU or Yabla, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in the video player.
So it’d better be good.
For starters, both have this amazing feature which let you send any word in a video to your flashcard deck…complete with the video segment in which the word appears!
Flashcards with video…the 21st century, alright!
Both video players include dictionaries to look up any word you don’t understand.
In Yabla, you can click on any word in the subtitles, and the word gets looked up in various online dictionaries.
FluentU’s dictionary works a little differently.
Here you can use the hover dictionary by hovering your mouse over a word, and a simple and short explanation will appear.
But FluentU doesn’t leave it at that.
If you *click* on any word, you can see other video segments in which the word appears. This is a great way to see how you can use the word in other contexts.
In both video players you can configure the subtitles to your liking. That means you can watch the videos with the following configurations:
- Subtitles in your target language only
- Subtitles in English only
- Subtitles in both languages
- No subtitles
In both players you can make use of the handy loop button. If there’s a segment you don’t understand, you can loop it infinitely so you can really focus your attention on what’s being said.
The video players are pretty similar, but there’s a major feature that Yabla offers and FluentU doesn’t:
The Slow Button
With the slow button, you can—you guessed it—slow down the video so you can better understand the content.
If you couple the slow button with the loop button, you can really enhance the learning process.
So FluentU shines in how you can watch other video segments in which the word is used (right from the video player itself). But Yabla offers a slightly more comprehensive dictionary, and the fantastic slow button.
Verdict: Tie – depends on your needs
Learn Mode – Games
The Learn Mode(quiz) in FluentU, and the Games in Yabla, are where you can really start to learn a video’s content.
Both FluentU’s Learn Mode and Yabla’s Games, use the video segment in which the word you’re learning is used.
Apart from that, they’re quite different from each other, so let’s talk about their biggest differences:
- With Yabla you can use the slow button during the games to make it all a tad easier (which is sometimes necessary because the games can get tough!). FluentU doesn’t have this feature.
- In FluentU you can hover your mouse over a word, and you hear the word pronounced by a robot voice. The hover dictionary also tells you what the word means. In Yabla’s games there’s no dictionary, but they only use real-life content from the videos. Thus, no robot voices, except in the poor Vocabulary Review game (more on this a little lower down the page).
- In Yabla you work with the video’s content in isolation. In FluentU there are often at least two different contexts for each exercise.
- FluentU nails the initial repetition aspect that’s so important when you’re learning something new. But Yabla better uses the video as a guide to learn its content. The games in Yabla are a bit harder as well.
- The big disappointment in the Yabla games is the Vocabulary Review game. It’s a basic and boring flashcard game with robot voices. (This is not the same as the separate flashcard game in Yabla. See Flashcards section.)
One of Yabla’s strengths is a game called Scribe.
It’s an extremely effective tool to improve your listening skills, probably more so than anything FluentU has to offer.
A Reddit poster credited Scribe, among other tools, for getting from 0 to C1 in French in just a year.
In essence, Scribe is a transcription tool where you have to transcribe a video, segment for segment.
The game won’t let you continue until each caption is filled in correctly, but if a segment is too hard you can use the slow and replay buttons.
Additionally, by clicking on missing or incorrect letters, Scribe will fill them in for you so you can continue to the next caption. Of course, you should only use this as a last resort.
So who takes it?
Although I like both, I now prefer Yabla’s style of keeping the video at the forefront of their games. FluentU does this too, but to a lesser degree.
I just find Yabla’s games somewhat more engaging because of the prominent role of the video.
They both have their strengths, but I think that Scribe tips the scale in favor of Yabla.
Verdict: Yabla win
As I said earlier….
Both FluentU’s and Yabla’s flashcards include the video segment in which the word appears.
But while FluentU’s flashcards are basically just (summarized) repetitions of the Learn Mode (quiz), Yabla’s flashcards come in a different tool.
And while it’s a decent one—complete with video segments—I don’t think it’s quite as effective as FluentU’s flashcards.
Yabla’s flashcards do have bars besides the words indicating how well you’ve studied a word, but there aren’t any spaced repetition reminders like with FluentU.
The flashcard review game itself also needs improvement:
In FluentU you actually have to give the right answers.
In Yabla you only have to click “I think I know it” or “I don’t know it”. Followed by answering a question whether you were right or not.
It’s too easy to cheat, even if you don’t intend to.
In short: Yabla’s flashcard review game does its job, but it could have been better.
One amazing feature of FluentU is that you can add your own words to your FluentU flashcard sets.
You can then learn the word through video segments in which the word appears. Similar to how you learn words in the Learn Mode (quiz).
This has terrific implications for your language learning:
Let’s say you hear or read a word you don’t understand. You can then learn the word through real life video by adding it to your video flashcards in FluentU. (The only exception is when a word isn’t available in the FluentU database, but this is rare.)
Needless to say, this is a lot better than basic text flashcards…
So taking everything I’ve talked about in this section into account, my verdict won’t be a surprise:
Verdict: FluentU win
FluentU offers a more personalized learning experience than Yabla.
The Already Know button is a nifty tool that lets FluentU know you already know a word, and thus you won’t see it again in the learning mode. Why waste your time on stuff you already know well, right?
It’s a level of personalization you see throughout the FluentU user interface.
Below every video there are progress bars indicating how many of the words in a video you already know.
How does FluentU know that?
It gets to know you through the Learn Mode (quiz) and the Already Know button.
This kind of personalization is not present in Yabla.
And there is another feature you’ll only find in FluentU: Daily Goals. A set amount of points you have to achieve each day.
When you accomplish this, you continue your Days Streak. When you don’t, you break the streak and you’ll have to start all over again.
Though it looks like it was implemented as an afterthought, I find it does help with your motivation. Especially, as you go about collecting those points and you get encouraged by childish, yet charming notifications of point gains.
Verdict: FluentU win
This is another area where they both differ, but that’s a good thing.
Because it gives you more options.
FluentU is more expensive, but it gives you access to all their languages for the same monthly fee. That means, if you study two languages at the same time, you can switch whenever you like.
Or if you regret starting to learn Spanish and prefer to continue with Mandarin, you can do so without having to buy another subscription.
On the other hand, if you’re sure about what language you want to learn, Yabla is cheaper.
Let’s take a closer look at the pricing structure of both:
What does FluentU Cost?
FluentU has two different plans:
- The Plus plan gives you access to all their content, Learn Mode, Flashcards, Spaced Repetition, and the ability to create your own flashcards. In short: everything FluentU has to offer. The Plus plan costs $20/month when billed annually. Or $30/month when billed monthly. This means that if you want to pay $20/month for the service, you’ll have pay for an annual subscription. You have 15 days to request a refund should you regret your purchase.
- The Basic plan is just that. Basic. It’s half the price of the Plus plan —$10 when billed annually— but maybe it should be even lower. You can watch unlimited subtitled videos and look up words, but no Learn Mode, Flashcards or Spaced Repetition are included in the plan.
What does Yabla Cost?
Yabla is cheaper than FluentU, but you cannot switch languages.
If you suddenly decide that you like another language better, you’ll have to buy another subscription.
A Yabla subscription costs:
- $8.33/month when billed annually
- $9.16/month when billed every six months, or
- $12.95 for a single month’s subscription
Verdict: Tie – depends on your needs
So Which One is Better? FluentU or Yabla?
If you want to learn a language through video content and you are willing to pay for it….
Then, these two services are your best bet.
But which one is best for you?
Well, that depends on a lot of the factors we have discussed in this article: the features, languages available, and the pricing structures.
FluentU seems to be a more consistent language tool. Yabla has more highs (video database, Scribe) and lows (Flashcard game).
But there’s one important thing that Yabla has over FluentU. And that’s entertainment.
If something is entertaining, you’re more likely to stick with it.
FluentU isn’t boring but Yabla is simply more engaging.
Whereas FluentU’s video library consists mostly of individual videos, Yabla also gives you the possibility to learn from TV series. And they’re a joy to learn from.
The series tend to keep you interested in what happens next, which you can use as a motivational tool.
This is exactly the reason why the more I use these tools the more I lean towards Yabla.
So which one is it going to be for you? Well, I hope this article has given you the information to make a well-informed decision.