A Review of Yabla's French Videos for Language Learning

graphic_YablaFrench.jpg
Yabla French Review.

For a small monthly fee, a subscription to Yabla French gives you direct access to an ever expanding library of authentic, short, French videos. The videos, sorted by level of difficulty, are recorded by native speakers, speaking today’s modern French language. They cover varied subject matter and are presented using an online video player especially designed for language learners.

The subscriber library currently offers over 700 videos, and two new videos are added every week.

There is definitely something interesting for everyone and for every level of French speaker.

The Yabla Video Player

This unique player allows you to tailor the video to your own needs: you can see/hide the French transcription captions and/or the English translation subtitles, slow the audio, go back, skip, and loop. Click on any word and up pops a bilingual dictionary window with definitions.

There is an engaging “Game” option where you listen for a word that has been removed from the captions, and type it in. It’s an excellent way to build listening, spelling, and vocabulary skills. You can play this game multiple times for the same video, the missing words will not be the same each round of play.

Most videos have a “review vocabulary” function that allows you to drill key words and phrases prior to watching a clip.  In addition, you can make your own flashcards, always a great learning option, from words found in the captions and subtitles.

Soon to come: a “Dictation/Transcription” option, with instant real time feedback as you type.

The Yabla iOS App

For off-line studying, you can download (at no extra charge) the Yabla French iOS app for iPad or iPhone. Using this app on your Apple device allows you to download any video in the subscriber library and watch it offline, using the Yabla Player found directly within the app.

What I Particularly Enjoyed

The “Slow” option is great: French people tend to speak much faster than what French students have experienced in a classroom environment. Thanks to this slow tool, you can train your ear and work your way to understanding French people in the street, or use the slow audio to repeat out-loud.

The videos are fun and “real” — you’ll experience a variety of accents, and hear real modern French, like it is spoken today.

I also like that Yabla says where the video comes from: you know whether it’s French from France, Canada etc. Most videos are from France, which is the accent most students want to concentrate on.

Weaknesses

Yabla French currently has only a handful of videos for absolute beginners (difficulty rating of 1 out of 5) though there is a lot for advanced beginners, intermediates and advanced learners. Yabla informs me that they are working on adding more of the easiest level of videos in coming months.

The site is not ideal for those looking for a linear, textbook approach to language learning, or one that focuses extensively on grammar.

To Sum It Up

There is more to French than grammar and verb conjugations. Yabla French provides what is lacking in a typical classroom/self-study curriculum: interactions with real French people.

You’ll learn a lot of new vocabulary, practice your grammar in context, better your understanding and pronunciation, and the video format is really fun to work with.

To me, the well-thought video player is a real plus and makes Yabla French an essential supplement to formal French instruction.