Yabla Review: Learn To Master Your Language

Yabla Overview:

Yabla is a language learning platform that taps into every internet user's love of watching random videos and turns that into an interactive learning experience.

You can access Yabla online or through their iOS or Android apps, so you can learn whenever or wherever you are. They provide videos for every learning level in a large variety of subjects.

The main benefit of Yabla is that it allows you to listen to hours of your target language, spoken by native speakers in a natural environment. Combine this with some fun review activities and you have a top-notch learning program.

In this article, I am going to tell you all about Yabla and how you can use it to help you become fluent in your new language. First, let’s take a quick look at what I like best about this program as well as a few things that I think could use improvement.

Pros

  • Tons of entertaining ways to learn!
  • Helpful content for all learning levels.
  • Very affordable.
  • Easy to navigate website and apps.

Cons

  • No speaking practice.
  • Translations and definitions are sometimes overcomplicated and confusing.

Yabla pricing

One Month

$12.95

Six Months

$54.95

Twelve Months

$99.95

Languages offered: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

What Is Yabla?

Yabla is a computer-based language learning program that helps you experience language immersion from the comfort of your home. They offer programs in six different languages and provide resources for language learners of all levels.

The great thing about this program is that it is fun! It takes something that we all like to do, watching videos online, and turns it into a full immersion language experience. Having fun while learning? Who doesn’t love that?

Their video library is massive, containing over 1000 videos for every language they offer and over 2000 videos for languages like Spanish and German. No matter what subjects you enjoy, you will likely find corresponding videos on Yabla.

There is more to Yabla than just videos though, they also offer review exercises and games that help you to better retain the information that you gain from the videos. You can take advantage of all these learning resources on your computer or smartphone.

Initial Thoughts About Yabla

My initial thought upon visiting their website was that it was very professional, well organized, and easy to navigate.

I like that they have a welcome video for each of their language programs. This welcome video allows you to hear a native speaker explain how the program works while allowing you to try out the format for yourself.

Yabla Review

They also have a few free videos in each language that you can watch to get an even better feel for the layout and how it works.

Another interesting thing about this program is that you can go in and see the entire website without having to subscribe. You can’t watch any of the main videos, but you can access the main home page and see the primary features.

This is especially nice if you are trying to learn two languages and are not sure which one you want to use Yabla for. Sadly, your subscription will only work for one language so this in-depth look at the content allows you to decide which program looks the most interesting if you’re interested in more than one.

After looking through videos in each language, I would not recommend this program as an initial learning program, especially if you’re the type of person who is easily overwhelmed by full immersion.

On the other hand, if you like the idea of just jumping in with full immersion right from the start, it may work for you. If you are an absolute beginner, you will want to combine your use of this learning with another learning program that focuses on speaking, such as Speechling, since Yabla is lacking in that area.

I would recommend Yabla for anyone who knows the basics and is ready to gain a deeper understanding of their new language. With thousands of opportunities to listen to native speakers, you are bound to improve your listening skills and learn some new words in the process.

Getting Started With Yabla

Languages that are offered in this program are Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

They offer a substantial number of videos in each section. For example, in French, there are over 1400 videos in 25 different categories to choose from.

Although each language program has interesting videos, I chose to take a deeper look at Yabla Spanish.

Signing Up

Starting an account is very easy. All you need is your name and email address and you will have to create a username and password. Then it moves directly to payment. You can choose between one month, six months, or twelve months, with the cost per month decreasing based on the number of months you purchase in advance.

You can pay using any of the common forms of payment including credit and debit cards as well as PayPal. If you use a form of currency that isn’t USD, you can use their handy currency calculator to determine what the price will be when the charge reaches your financial institution.

There isn’t an initial charge because the first 15 days are free. After the initial 15 days are complete, you will be charged the amount you chose. If you decide after 14 days that it's not for you, you can simply cancel your subscription.

Important Detail: The videos on Yabla are taken from real media, the news, movies, music videos, and more. That being said, there are videos contain strong language and suggestive material.

After you enter your payment information you will be directed to a page that asks if you want to have access to all the available content, or if you would like to filter out the suggestive videos. You can change this in your profile later, but if you are purchasing this account for a child, you will want to catch it before they access their account.

This may just seem like a tiny detail, but I appreciate that Yabla has this option. I like that they offer real material from the real world for adults who want to be truly fluent in their new language, but I also appreciate that they took the time to create filters so that the program could be child-friendly as well.

The Main Features Of Yabla

There are four main sections on the front page: Dashboard, Videos, Flashcards, and Lessons. There is also a small profile section where you can view your subscription payments and other profile settings.

There is also a handy feature under the profile tab where you can change the main language on the page. This is nice if English is not your native language or if you would like to practice your second language while you learn your third or fourth.

Dashboard

This isn’t a part of the website that you’ll spend too much time on, but it is kind of motivating. It allows you to set daily goals, see your daily practice time, and view leaderboards and scores.

This section also includes a counter to track the number of days in a row that you’ve practiced.

You will also find Yabla News on the Dashboard. This includes notifications about new videos, new lessons, or any other additions to the website.

Videos

You may have already guessed this, but this is the main section of the website that you will be focusing on. At the risk of sounding repetitive, there is a seriously large amount of content here!

Without any of the content filters, there are over 2100 videos in Yabla Spanish. That is far too many for the average person to watch, even if you bought a 1-year subscription. Thankfully, they have them very well organized so you can find the videos that will benefit you the most.

Finding The Right Videos

If you’re like me, you may get a little caught up just browsing through all the hundreds and hundreds of videos, but remember, we’re here to learn, so let’s find something helpful.

Along the left-hand side of the page, there are several criteria by which you can sort the videos including Difficulty, Region, and Category.

Difficulty allows you to see only the videos that are within your language level. This includes Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Although there is a Newbie section, it is listed under Category.

Region allows you to view only the videos from a particular region in the world. This is one of my favorite features. Since there are so many different Spanish dialects in the world, it is very useful to have the option to focus on the dialect you want to learn.

You may like to know that this is not just sorted into Mexico, Spain, and Peru. This program has 21 regions listed, so when I say you can focus on a specific dialect, I mean it. You can also use this feature to compare videos from different regions so you can start to hear the differences for yourself.

Category allows you to sort the videos by subject matter. There are 26 subjects to choose from such as history, drama, music videos, news, and more.

You can search using just one criterion or you can combine them all to narrow your search down to a reasonable number of videos.

You may like to know that this is not just sorted into Mexico, Spain, and Peru. This program has 21 regions listed, so when I say you can focus on a specific dialect, I mean it. You can also use this feature to compare videos from different regions so you can start to hear the differences for yourself.

The Yabla Video Player

Once you have found some videos that seem right for you, simply click play and start learning.

You can just watch video after video if you want, but there are a few features you should take advantage of to ensure that you’re really learning the material.

Subtitles

The first learning tool is the subtitles. You can choose between having either your native language or your target language, both languages, or neither.

In Yabla Chinese, there are three sets of subtitles: your native language, Chinese written in English letters, and Chinese written in Chinese characters.

For simplicity's sake, we’re going to say that your native language is English and your target language is Spanish, just so this next part is easier to describe.

As I mentioned, you can have both sets of subtitles if that makes you more comfortable, but I would strongly recommend watching as many videos as you can with only the Spanish subtitles, and here is why.

When your brain is trying to process two languages at once, like when you’re listening to Spanish and reading English, your brain will automatically default to focusing on whichever is easiest to process, which in this case would be English.

To improve your brain's ability to process and learn the Spanish that you are listening to, you need to get rid of the distracting English subtitles and allow your brain to hone in on learning Spanish.

This is where this program comes in handy because the Spanish subtitles are not just subtitles, they are interactive subtitles. This means that anytime a word comes up and you want to know what it means, you can simply click on it and Yabla will show you the meaning.

Video Playback

Imagine you’re watching your first video and you come across a new word or phrase. You pause the video so you can read the translation. You can then play that sentence again. Over and over as many times as you like.

Each sentence is separated out so you can loop that sentence until you get the hang of that new word. You can also slow the video down so that you can listen even closer.

If you think you missed something, you can skip back and forth throughout the video, sentence by sentence.

Video Player Features

There are a few other features on the Yabla video player that you may find helpful.

There are two search bars that allow you to quickly search words from either language for a quick translation and definition.

You will also find full transcripts that you can read online or you can print them to study later. The transcripts are divided by sentence, just like the videos, with both English and Spanish listed.

The video player also has Star so you can Bookmark any videos that you would like to watch again. You can easily review your bookmarked videos from the main Video page.

You will also find a comment section where you and your fellow language learners can post their thoughts and questions about the video.

Last, but not least, there is a Settings section that allows you to adjust the settings on the video player and subtitles.

Learning Games

This is where the real learning happens. There are four games that you can play after watching each video: Multiple Choice, Fill In The Blank, Scribe, and Vocabulary Review. There is also a fifth game called the Comprehension Game, but it isn’t available on all the videos yet.

Multiple Choice is basically multiple-choice fill in the blank. Yabla will show you a clip from the video you just watched and a written sentence with one word missing. You then get to choose from a list of words to fill in the blank.

Fill In The Blank shows you a sentence from the video and you get to write in the missing word. It will play that sentence from the video so that you can hear the word and fill it in.

Yabla Review - LANGUAGE GAMES

This is great writing practice, especially for beginners. If you type the word correctly, it will accept it and you receive points. If you spell the word incorrectly, it will highlight the letter or letters that are wrong, giving you the chance to correct it.

If you are learning on your computer and do not have special characters on your keyboard, there is a list of special characters on the page that you can use.

Scribe is a dictation game. The game breaks the video up into sections and has you transcribe the entire transcript, one sentence at a time.

Yabla Review - Scribe

You have to spell each word correctly, including accents, to move on, so it really forces you to pay close attention to what you are hearing in the video. This makes Scribe great for both listening and writing practice.

Vocabulary Review shows you a list of some of the vocabulary words from the video so that you can review them, then you get to play a timed review game. This a quick fun way to go over the words you’ve just learned.

Yabla Review - Vocabulary Review

This is probably the most fun of all the games just because it is fast-paced and improves your ability to translate back and forth between your two languages.

You will be presented with a word in either English or Spanish and given either multiple-choice options to translate it, or you have to type the answer. The game will keep track of the words that you get correct so that eventually those words will cycle out of the game and you can practice with new words.

Do not let the timer make you nervous, it gives you plenty of time to answer, but still makes the game a bit more exciting.

Comprehension Game is a new game and, as I mentioned, it isn’t available for all the videos yet. It has a lot of promise though, so I think they will be adding it to more videos as time goes on.

This may be the most helpful game because it asks you multiple-choice questions about the video in your new language. As the name implies, this helps to gauge your comprehension of the video’s content as well as your fluency level overall.

The language in the questions is matched to the level of the video, so if you watch a Beginner video, the questions will be written in a way that beginners should be able to understand them.

Flashcards

For the language learners who love flashcards, this is the section for you, but not until you have watched a few videos and made use of those interactive subtitles.

Every time you click on a word or search for a definition, Yabla will save that word to your flashcards. It will group the words from each video into a set so that you can review them as groups.

When you review a set, it will bring up a flashcard and play a robotic recording of the word. If you do not care for the robotic recording, you can also play a clip of the video in which the word was used.

Once you’ve reviewed the word, you can then click, “I think I know It” or “I don’t know it”. If you click that you did know it, it will reveal the definition and ask if you got it right. If you say that you don’t know, it will simply reveal the definition and put the word back into rotation.

It is important to answer honestly because it will track the words you need to work on and bring them up more frequently. On the main Flashcard page, you will see that each word has an orange bar underneath it. The bar fills up as you review and practice that word. Once the bar is full, you shouldn't need to review that word anymore.

Accidentally click on a word that you didn’t mean to add to your flashcards? No problem, you can simply delete it from the main Flashcard page.

Lessons

The Lessons section provides yet another helpful learning resource. This section has written lessons on specific language topics, such as grammar, specific vocabulary words, and even tricky terms that many people struggle with.

Yabla Review - LESSONS

The cool thing about these lessons is that they are not just huge blocks of text that make your eyes cross. These are helpful lessons concerning relevant topics. They also include links to related videos, so you can see and hear examples of the subject matter.

These video examples help to make the lessons more interesting as well as assisting with your comprehension and retention of the lesson.

Is Yabla Any Good?

Just in case you still aren’t convinced about whether Yabla is any good or not, the answer is: Yes, it's good. It's better than good.

Many language studies have proven that full immersion is one of the best ways to learn a new language, if not the best way. Since many of us won’t have the opportunity to drop everything and move to a new country for a year or two, we have to find more creative ways to experience immersion and that is where this program comes in.

This program provides that immersion experience through thousands of videos of native speakers speaking about every topic under the sun. You can use these videos to practice listening and reading at the same time.

The Learning Games, Flashcards, and Lessons provide all the reinforcement you need to turn simple video watching into an impactful learning experience.

The only issues that I see with Yabla, outside of it being a little too advanced for true beginners, are the lack of speaking practice and a lack of context for definitions. Although it's affordable and has so many other great features, I would say that these are minor inconveniences at the most.

As language learners, we all know the importance of speaking your new language as often as you can. You could easily use the subtitles to read along and practice out loud, but it would be more beneficial if Yabla added a game or practice section that focused strictly on speaking.

When it comes to the definitions, every word you click on or type into the search bars will bring up a full list of all the possible definitions, which can be a bit confusing. It would be more user-friendly if the definition of how the word was being used in the video came up first, followed by the other possible definitions.

Yabla Alternatives

If you would like to check out a few alternatives just to be sure before you subscribe, here are a few suggestions.

FluentU is the closest alternative to Yabla. It is based around the same learning techniques and has similar features. They also offer three additional languages, Japanese, Korean, and Russian, and a single subscription gives you access to every language.

FluentU

On the downside, FluentU doesn’t have quite as much content or as many learning games and it is significantly more expensive. Many users love it though, it is worth a look.

3ears is great for anyone who wants to learn one of the Slavic languages such as Polish, Russian, or Czech. They have lots of content and the ability to save words for reviewing later.

The best thing about 3ears is that the majority of the content is free, excluding a few lessons that you can purchase for just a few dollars each.

3ears

Language Learning With YouTube or Netflix are both good options for anyone who wants to try out interactive subtitles. These are both free extensions for Chrome.

Both have loads of content, so you’re sure to find something you will enjoy. Neither one has learning activities, but they will still provide you with great listening and reading practice.

Yabla Review: Final Thoughts

Overall, Yabla is a good program that I think many users could benefit from.

The vast volume of content and fun review activities guarantee that you will never be bored which makes it a great choice for language learners with short attention spans and avid learners alike.

Even with the lack of speaking practice and the slightly confusing definitions section, I would say that this a program worth investing in. Thankfully, since they offer a 15-day free trial, you won’t have to invest anything to try it out for yourself.

Whether you decide to check out this program or one of the alternatives, I hope this article has inspired you to try out this fun language learning method and continue with your language learning journey. Happy learning!

About the author 

Language Throne Team

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