Yabla Review - Immersive Learning Through Video
Recently, we had the pleasure of testing Yabla, a language learning platform which provides authentic language immersion through video.
We've just finished trialing various features within the platform and we wanted to share our experience doing so. Today, we’ll take you through all you need to know about Yabla, including the following:
- Yabla's main Pros & Cons (in detail)
- Whether this software actually 'teaches' you a foreign language
- Main features, user experience and pricing
How we did this review
Both learners have tested plenty of other products before. The scoring system above is determined based on the comparison between Yabla and other language tools on the market offering the same service.
The opinions that you read throughout this review are results of the process that both learners have undergone with free and premium versions.
“I found Yabla to be a great resource for improving my understanding of Spanish, which is currently at a beginner to lower intermediate conversational level. I'd say Yabla Spanish is best for anyone at my level or above, as it definitely pushes you! I've tried various apps and courses that haven't really helped me. Yabla exceeded my expectations in this aspect and did not disappoint. I'll continue to use it, but alongside other resources.”
“I used Yabla Chinese and tried out the free sample videos provided on the platform. The Yabla Chinese videos are broken down into difficulty level, which helped me stick to the videos I'm most comfortable with. All of the videos are subtitled and you can choose whether to read the dialogue in the target language or through English. which is great for learning new vocabulary.
What is Yabla?
Yabla is a language learning platform. Created in 2001, it provides users with a fun, interactive, and immersive learning experience, boosting language skills through comprehension.
The videos on the platform help to improve your listening capabilities. There are numerous games you can play, making the content appealing to learners. You can access Yabla through the web or its app, available on Android and iOS devices.
What type of language learner is Yabla for?
Yabla is not built for any one specific type of language learner. However, it will definitely appeal more to:
- Visual learners
- Those who prefer to learn languages through video content
- Lower-intermediate to advanced learners
We do not recommend Yabla if you are a complete beginner. We feel that the lack of structure in the content makes it too challenging for language learners at this level. This is a similar problem shared by Yabla's main competitor, FluentU.
In addition to private learners, Yabla also has exclusive features for schools and organisations. Teachers can assign activities to students, set goals and monitor general student performance.
Which languages can you learn through Yabla?
Yabla provides excellent learning material in six languages as part of the following courses:
How does Yabla help you learn a language?
One of the reasons that we, and so many other people, love using this software is because of the videos available.
The content on the platform comes from a range of sources including:
- TV Commercials
- Music Videos
- Television series and shows
As a result, the videos are not too difficult to follow, given that they are spoken at a conversational pace. If you do find it challenging, you can always slow down the audio to follow the conversation.
In addition to commercials, music videos and television shows, Yabla also produces its own, original content. This adds to the size of its already enormous video library - more than 2350 videos and learning tools!
Every video provides the following information before you click on it:
- Its level of difficulty
- The content origin
- A brief description of the content
You can use this information to filter the search results and find the best language learning videos as per your requirements, whilst keeping track of your progress.
If you don’t have time to watch a video right away, you can bookmark them. You can also download your favorite videos (and their transcripts) to watch offline.
The navigation buttons in the video player provide excellent language learning functionality. For instance, you can use the loop feature to put any portion of the video on repeat. This is really helpful when you have to listen to a complex passage.
On the platform’s dashboard, you can set and track your personal goals, usage and scores. The Yabla News section keeps you up-to-date with recent developments on the platform.
We've touched on plenty of the Yabla features in the descriptions above. We'll go through these now in greater detail, discussing what we like and dislike about the following:
The first point we want to mention here is Yabla's Word Sets, which users are able to access when using the Flashcards feature. These are words that Yabla saves for you when you search for the meanings of specific words from the videos.
Yabla uses a Spaced Repetition System (SRS), which you can see in action below the word. This feature shows you how familiar you are with a specific word. When you select a flashcard, it shows you the word in the target language and plays an audio clip.
If you are unable to grasp the context of the word, Yabla helps you out by showing a video where the word is in use.
Within the Yabla 'lessons' section, there are a wide variety of topics to choose from. This includes idioms, slang, grammar and vocabulary.
After you select a lesson, it explains the concept and uses examples to help you understand. You can also select a specific caption to check out a relevant video clip. As the use of language in these videos is natural, they are pretty easy to grasp.
If we've learned anything from trialing a range of language apps it's that having a fun learning experience is essential. Yabla uses games to make the experience fun, leaving you wanting to continue. There are several games you can play with each video.
Each of these games are great as they test your language listening skills in real-time. This is obviously a useful skill to possess when you’re talking to people.
Yabla games include:
- Multiple Choice
- Fill in the Blank
- Vocabulary Review
Multiple Choice & Fill in the Blank
For example, with ‘Multiple Choice' you listen to a specific portion of the video. At the end of the clip, you have to select the missing word from the given options.
Once you become familiar with the video content, you can move to ‘Fill in the Blank.’ This Yabla game is similar to ‘Multiple Choice’ as you have to listen to a part of the video. However, you have to enter the missing word, rather than choosing it from a list.
A challenging game on the Yabla platform which tests your language skills is ‘Scribe.’ Here, Yabla plays specific segments of the video. Unlike other games, you have to type the whole line of text in the language you’re learning. If you find this too difficult, you can replay or slow down the content. If you still find this too difficult, you can check out the translation.
Vocabulary Review & Comprehension
‘Vocabulary Review’ is another language learning game you can play on Yabla. It provides you with a word in your native or target language. Your goal is to provide the right translation either by typing or selecting it from the list of words.
Finally, ‘Comprehension’ is a new game available only on specific Yabla videos. You have to watch a portion of the clip and answer questions from the multiple choices.
Yabla provides an excellent language learning experience, thanks to the ability to use subtitles. Every video contains subtitles in the original language along with its translation. Based on how you want to study, you can turn both of them on and off.
If you don’t understand a word, you can click on it. Yabla will show you its definition, along with the ability to save it and review it in the future. You can take a look at the entire transcript and find translations for different words. There is also an option to print the transcript to help you learn the language faster, away from the screen.
Learning Mandarin Chinese with Yabla
You might expect Yabla Chinese to contain its own set of Chinese language lessons. However, this is not the case. It does, however, have its own set of unique features. One of these is the Mandarin Pinyin Chart, which is one of the few systems devised to transcribe Chinese sounds into Roman letters.
This chart, which references Pinyin sounds, includes audio playback for all four Mandarin tones in each syllable. It is a great language tool, which helps learners to get to grips with individual, unfamiliar sounds.
An additional practice tool on the Yabla platform, which is entirely unique to Chinese, enables users to pair tones. If you're new to learning a language with tones (like James) then this is a really useful addition.
Native Speakers & The Yabla Player
Throughout the listening section of this exercise, you are required to listen to a native Mandarin speaker. Users then need to identify the tone combination they have heard in the individual words. If it's too fast, you can opt for a robotic recording, instead of a more natural, human-spoken one.
Yabla Chinese also contains voice recognition software which determines how good (or not) your Chinese pronunciation actually is.
Whilst Yabla's voice recognition technology isn’t sensational, it does still allow you to practice speaking. Unlike apps such as Speechling, however, you won't receive any feedback on this.
As somebody who is relatively new to Mandarin, I liked this particularly aspect and think it worked well.
Yabla provides users with a taste of the platform and its features completely free of charge. It comes with a free 15 day trial, where you can check out the content and games on this platform.
If you’re happy with what it has to offer, there are multiple plans available which start at $12.95. Once you have signed up, you can personalize the content based on your learning goals, short term plans or school curriculum (if you're a student).
Our final thoughts on Yabla
Overall, we were impressed with Yabla and enjoyed our experience testing the features on its Spanish, German and Chinese platforms. Furthermore, the concept and execution is great. However, a criticism would be that we'd like to see a broader range of languages available on the platform, with some possible video for complete beginners.
"Yabla is a powerful language learning tool which provides an immersive experience through a range of features and benefits. I was impressed with the video content and the volume of videos available. The subtitles feature is definitely needed; it helps you to learn specific words whilst improving your overall listening skills. I'd like to see Yabla introduce Japanese to its list of languages and update its dashboard." - James
"This is a great resource, particularly for lower-intermediate, intermediate and advanced learners. It's the best Spanish content resource I've used. That said, I'd appreciate some speaking practice and a better voice recognition system. If you're a complete beginner, I'd recommend trying a different language learning platform first in order to build some knowledge of the language and key vocabulary. If you don't, Yabla could prove too challenging." - Pete
What are your thoughts about Yabla? Does it meet your requirements or are there areas where this platform needs to improve? Let us know in the comments below.