If you watch foreign movies and TV shows or enjoy listening to music in other languages, you’ve likely picked up a few words without necessarily knowing what they mean. As you’ll soon learn in our FluentU review, this language platform understands that one of the best ways to learn is by watching your favorite type of content.
That’s why its creators rely on authentic videos with subtitles as their primary teaching tool.
Pros & Cons
FluentU Basic Plan
33% discount on a yearly subscription
14-day Free Trial
Audio Recordings Access
FluentU Plus Plan
33% discount on a yearly subscription
14-day Free Trial
Unlimited Video Access
FluentU’s Learning Center Access
Unlimited Access to all 9 Languages
If this suits your pricing range, then continue reading to learn everything there is to learning about this company.
FluentU was founded in 2011 by language enthusiast Alan Park. His idea was to create a subscription-based video platform that would offer users a variety of unconventional language learning tools, such as short videos, music videos, documentaries, commercials, and quizzes.
Think of it as YouTube for learning languages. In fact, the app sources most of its content from YouTube.
In this FluentU company review, you’ll find out how successful this concept actually is and whether this platform can really help you learn a foreign language simply by watching videos.
Features, Courses, and Materials
The main feature of FluentU is its use of interactive subtitles in the videos. You can turn the subs on and off while watching a video, but the interactivity doesn’t stop there. If you click on a particular word, you’ll be shown explanations and similar video content. Best of all, you can repeat the videos by putting them on a loop, but unlike YouTube, you can’t use slow motion.
Finding material on the FluentU mobile app is very easy. Just pick the topic (Business, Culture, or Health) or format of the video, choose your level (Newbie, Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced, or Native), select your preferred language, and you’re good to go.
The app is available for both iOS and Android devices, and you can also use the web version.
There are nine languages to pick from: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, English, Italian, and Russian. Not only do you get to watch videos in these languages, but you also get to practice your vocabulary by filling the gaps, choosing the right answer or translation, or working out the correct order of words in a sentence.
Next in our FluentU review, let’s take a look at this app’s key features.
FluentU allows you to:
- Watch videos with subtitles and learn more about the words by clicking on them
- Partake in different quizzes (e.g., fill the gaps in the text by putting in the right word or put mixed-up words in the correct order)
- Repeat any video as many times as you want
- Listen to audio recordings of exercises
- Create daily goals by setting up the time when you want to practice (at least 1 minute but no more than 30 minutes a day)
FluentU App Review
While all learners can benefit from using this platform, it might not be the best option for beginners. It’s true that you can jump from one level to another, but if you’ve just started learning a new language, you may need to use some additional materials.
There are a few useful features in the form of audio lessons, dictionary, and flashcards. However, the audio quality is not great, and the recordings sound robotic because they weren’t made by native speakers.
As for the quizzes, putting the correct accent on words (in languages where accents are used in writing) is mandatory. If you fail to do so, you’ll have to repeat the exercise.
The FluentU app for Android and iOS makes your learning process much more manageable.
Apart from having access to all the videos, audio recordings, and flashcards, you can also sort words into the Don’t Know and Already Know categories. Once you’ve done that, the green percentage bar at the bottom of the screen will show you how many words included in the video you already know.
The number of videos for individual languages differs. You can find almost 3,000 videos in English, but if you choose Korean, you’ll only get about 300 videos. The videos are rated by users and organized by popularity, so you’ll have no trouble finding good content.
Now, let’s talk about the language courses.
FluentU Italian Review
Imagine wandering the streets of Rome while talking with the locals about authentic pizza recipes in their own language. FluentU’s Italian course can help you make this dream a reality.
The app scours the web in search of the best videos across different categories – commercials, movie trailers, music videos, news clips, and motivational talks. They are all organized based on their topic and difficulty level, allowing you to pick one that’s best suited for you.
If you have trouble understanding any word in the subtitles, just place your cursor over it (on the web) or tap on it (on your phone). You’ll see the definition of the word, images, and example sentences to help you work out its meaning.
FluentU German Review
If you’re a passionate cinephile, you’ve probably seen a vast number of European movies, including some German masterpieces like Good Bye, Lenin! and The Lives of Others. Now imagine being able to quote your favorite lines from these movies in German.
By using movie clips, FluentU helps you master the basics of the German language. Not only that, but you can even learn some commonly used slang words.
Germans usually speak fast, so you may have trouble keeping up. Thankfully, when you click on a word in the subtitle, the video pauses, giving you enough time to understand its meaning. The platform also has many example sentences for each word, allowing you to practice using it in the correct context.
FluentU French Review
FluentU will help you learn the French language by exploring miscellaneous video formats, from short clips, shows, and trailers to commercials and how-tos. As already mentioned, after viewing the videos, you can review your knowledge with quizzes. This allows you to practice your speaking skills, but what about the grammar?
Some words, like adjectives, are only presented in the masculine and not feminine form. As such, you won’t be able to compare them and see the difference, which would’ve been a useful feature. Another downside of the app is that it doesn’t show you any conjugation examples.
Still, FluentU French video and audio recordings will be a great asset if you’re using the app as additional learning material or preparing for a trip to France. There are more than 400 different topics and about 1,400 videos that vary in difficulty (from funny commercials to singing Frozen’s Let It Go in French and making a vegetarian burger). If you’re a movie addict who loves fantasy, you know that French cinema has a lot to offer.
Now imagine learning French through the magical setting of Amélie, memorizing all those unforgettable funny lines (“It’s better to help people than a garden gnome.”). Wouldn’t that be great? Well, with FluentU, you can do it.
FluentU Spanish Review
People who want to learn Spanish will have their hands full as there are more than 1,000 Spanish videos on FluentU. Like the other language courses on this platform, the main focus is on vocabulary and listening comprehension.
When you find the video you like, you can choose one of the two options: Watch and Learn.
If you click on the Watch button, you get to watch the video with built-in subtitles. If there’s a word you don’t understand, click on it or hover your mouse over it, and you’ll see the definition. The Learn button is connected to the quizzes, and you can use this option when you want to revise what you’ve just learned.
FluentU Korean Review
South Korea is known for its stunning cinema, top-selling K-pop scene, and its complicated writing system called Hangul. How can FluentU help you master this writing system?
After selecting the desired video, you can click on the Vocab or Dialogue option (under the Learn and Watch buttons). The former will show you all the words used in the video, while the latter will reveal the whole dialogue (in Hangul and Roman script, allowing you to compare them).
If you want more time to study, you can download the full transcript of the video that includes both the original Korean text and its English translation.
FluentU Review of Russian
Learning the Russian language and alphabet may seem hard, especially when it comes to pronunciation. If you’ve never used the Cyrillic alphabet before, you’re probably wondering how to pronounce special characters like “Я” or “Ю.”
To help you understand the complexity of the Russian language, FluentU has collected the best video and audio content available online and enhanced it with full transcriptions, translations, and word explanations.
Similar to the Korean course, you can see both the Cyrillic and Roman script of the dialogues and words. You can also download transcripts of videos to practice pronunciation at your own pace.
FluentU Review of English
If English is not your native language, using FluentU to learn it may not be the best idea.
Yes, the platform has many videos in English, so there are many topics to choose from for every difficulty level. However, there are no particular rules on how and where to start, so it’s very easy to get lost in the sea of content.
While all the words are accompanied by pictures to help you understand their meaning, many of those pictures simply don’t make sense, thus defeating their purpose. For example, the illustration for the word “appearance” shows a needle in a haystack.
There are also no guided speaking practices, but all languages on the platform suffer from this problem.
FluentU Review of Japanese
If you grew up reading manga, watching Studio Ghibli’s masterful animated movies, and not missing an episode of your favorite anime, you’ve probably always wanted to learn Japanese.
Although FluentU doesn’t offer as many Japanese videos as you would like, especially compared to Spanish or English, there’s still a good selection of anime clips and J-pop music videos to watch and learn with. There are three subtitle options to choose from: furigana along with kanji, katakana along with hiragana, and the English translation.
Like German, Japanese is spoken very fast, but you can always pause the video by clicking on a word to give yourself more time to understand the content.
FluentU Review of Chinese
FluentU was created in Hong Kong, so there’s no lack of Chinese-language content on the platform. Some of the videos are even produced by FluentU, along with the content taken from YouTube.
The subtitles are presented in pinyin (phonetic transcription of Chinese characters that uses the Latin alphabet) and English. This is enough if your goal is to learn how to speak Chinese. If you also want to learn how to write it, subtitles in traditional and simplified Chinese are available.
There is also the FluentU Review option, which uses Space Repetition Software to collect all the words you haven’t used in a while into a single list. Check this list regularly to ensure you don’t forget any of the words you’ve previously learned.
Ease of Use
The app’s interface may not be visually jaw-dropping, but it’s easy to navigate. Similar to YouTube, the topics (e.g., Health and Tech), content formats (e.g., Commercial, Trailer, and Music Video), and difficulty levels (e.g., Novice and Advanced) are displayed on the left side of the screen. You just have to set your preferences, and you’re ready to start learning.
FluentU Pricing and Plans
FluentU offers its users a choice between monthly and annual billing. As for the subscription plans, you can pick the Basic Plan or the Plus Plan.
FluentU Basic Plan Review
If you purchase the Basic Plan, you’ll have access to all the videos and audio recordings from FluentU’s library. Pick one of the categories (Politics and Society, Science and Tech, Arts, and Entertainment), choose your level (from Newbie to Native), and start learning the desired language.
The Basic Plan will cost you $15 per month. If you subscribe for a whole year, it will cost you just $120. That way, you’ll pay a whopping 33% less than you would with a monthly subscription.
FluentU Plus Plan Review
The Plus Plan offers much more than just access to unlimited videos.
For one, you can use FluentU’s Learning Center, which is where you’ll find the dictionary and flashcards. You also get to take part in numerous quizzes to test your knowledge after watching the videos, and you’ll have access to all the courses and transcripts. Most importantly, the Plus Plan gives you unlimited access to all nine languages.
The Plus Plan will cost you $30 per month or $240 per year. Like the Basic Plan, if you opt for annual billing, you’ll get a FluentU discount of 33%. If you’re an advanced learner who enjoys using visual tools for education, this might entice you to consider subscribing to the platform.
However, due to a lack of structured, guided lessons, it would be best to use FluentU as additional learning material, not primary.
How will you know if this learning platform is the right fit for you before committing to it for a full year? This is where the FluentU free trial comes to the rescue by allowing you to try out the app free of charge for 14 days. What do you need to do to activate the trial? You must create an account first, then you need to choose one of the plans (Basic or Plus), and then finally select the payment method.
If you want to avoid being charged for your first month, you must cancel the trial before it expires. You will still be able to use the service for the duration of the trial. Once your trial period ends, you will have to opt for one of the subscription plans to continue using it.
All this talk about the FluentU cost and its billing plans brings us to our next topic – the refund policy. Is there one, and how does it work?
If you’re a FluentU subscriber and you’re unhappy with the service, there’s no way to get a refund. Whether you’ve opted for monthly or annual billing, your credit card is charged at the beginning of the billing period. As such, all you can do is cancel your subscription before the next billing date and continue using the service until the end of the subscription.
When switching plans, FluentU will give you credits for any unused time on your current plan. These credits then go towards paying for your newly chosen plan.
According to our FluentU ratings review, the platform has a good average score.
Users are mostly satisfied with the available video content, challenging quizzes, and the opportunity to learn typical everyday speech. As for the negatives, some users report being charged even after deleting the app, but that’s because they forgot to cancel their subscription.
FluentU Pros and Cons
Let’s review the main advantages and disadvantages of FluentU.
- Numerous videos with subtitles
- Various quizzes
- Use of the dictionary
- Lack of speaking and writing exercises
- Bad audio on the flashcards (no native voice)
Although fairly unique in its approach, FluentU is not the only language learning app on the market. In this section, we’ll compare it against two competitors, Yabla and Duolingo.
FluentU vs. Yabla
Like FluentU, Yabla is another app that uses videos as the primary tool for learning languages. The number of courses differs, though. Yabla offers six languages (Chinese, Spanish, French, English, German, and Italian), as opposed to FluentU’s nine.
However, Yabla also costs less than FluentU at $9.95 per month, and that’s not all. The key difference between the two apps is their content. On Yabla, you can watch full episodes of TV shows, and there’s a great deal of content aimed at younger audiences (like animation).
You should choose Yabla if you enjoy long-form content and want to learn just one language.
If you want to learn multiple languages and prefer short-form content, FluentU might be a better option.
FluentU vs. Duolingo
Duolingo offers four times as many languages – 36 compared to 9 on FluentU. However, its main focus is not on video but on working with modules. The courses are structured, so after completing the first module, you can move on to the next.
Both platforms have similarly formatted exercises. They include translations, flashcards, and word matching. Unlike the Already Know and Don’t Know sections on FluentU, Duolingo creates the Weakest Words list after you finish a lesson.
When it comes to prices, Duolingo has two options: Free and Plus. The paid plan will cost you $12.99 per month or $79.99 per year, making it a cheaper solution.
To sum up our FluentU review, we’ll quickly recap what we’ve learned so far.
FluentU is a language learning platform that uses videos as its primary teaching method. Every video is accompanied by subtitles, quizzes, and customized flashcards.
This platform is available online, and it also has dedicated Android and iOS apps. The prices are fair, especially considering the content you get.
However, there are only nine languages available, and the content is better suited for advanced learners than beginners.