Seeing as how they give me free, unlimited access, this month I’ve been playing around with FluentU’s new Japanese app.
One thing that I really liked about FluentU’s app is that it works so smoothly. Usually when I get beta access to a new app, it’s clunky and annoying. But I was pleasantly surprised by how streamlined this was.
(Note: I tested this app with Rei’s iPhone 6. I haven’t had a chance to look at it with other devices just yet.)
A Nice, Clean Video App for Studying Japanese
There was also a nice, informative tutorial right when I opened the app. So it was pretty easy getting started.
The major draw of FluentU is that they use real-world videos. More importantly, they present them in a way that melts your brain 200% less than usual.
This is because it’s super easy to look up words on the fly as you watch a video.
They also have quizzes and examples, which I’ll talk about a little later.
A Rapidly Growing Database of Japanese Content
When I reviewed FluentU about six months ago, they did not have nearly as many videos. I’m happy to say that their lesson database seems to be growing daily.
I love how the video stops when you need to look up words.
They also have…
Intuitive Flashcard Interface
To be honest, I’ve never been big on quizzes for any program. About a year ago, I tried to use DuoLingo for Spanish, and I wasn’t really a fan. I mean, yeah, it’s useful, but usually worrying about each and every mistake I make isn’t even worth my time.
Specifically, I’m talking about using technology to improve production ability, which I’ve never been a fan of. While a computer an be an awesome tool for boosting your understanding of a language over time (especially stuff like increasing listening comprehension), when it comes to producing the language, there’s no real substitute for face-to-face language action, which you can get for super-cheap on sites like italki.
In that screenshot above, the app can tell me the correct answer, but there is also a lot being missed–for one, the fact that you’re not likely to ever hear the use of ～氏 (~shi) as “Mr.” in spoken Japanese.
That said, it was still pretty fun playing with FluentU’s flashcard system, which is one of the better ones I’ve ever encountered.
The real gem is the videos, which are actually a lot of fun to watch.
Also, if you’re totally set on using the flashcard system, I’m happy to announce that the input question were no problem (something that drove me crazy when using Duolingo).
So entering answers in romaji, as above, is no problem. And you can even get crazy and enter the full kanji:
I also like how they have multimedia for virtually every aspect of the language–videos for sentences, pictures for vocab words. Awesome.
The audio for the example sentences is still auto-generated, which can sound pretty robotic for Japanese. But that’s not FluentU‘s fault. Google Translate has the same problem, after all. Well, Google Translate has a lot of problems.
I mean, unless they wanted to go above and beyond by hiring native speakers to read all of these sentences out loud for us. That’d be incredible (*wink-wink*).
Another nice option is the ability to organize flashcards:
Personally, I’m so heavily invested in Anki (using them for kanji, using them for anime, using them for all of the Japanese study resources that I use) that there’s no way I could start doing flashcards on another system.
But there might be some out there interested in giving it a go.
A cool bonus is that the flashcards integrate with your video watching history, so there are some really awesome options for searing content into your brain.
All in all, there is a ton of Japanese content here, and that’s what I really like about FluentU. They have a lot of well-structured content that, while being fun, is still a productive use of your study time.
You learn about 1,000 times more than watching YouTube while being about 1,000 times less bored than watching your average Japanese video lesson.
I’m excited to see what else FluentU has in store for us in the future.
Mastering Japanese Like a Boss-Status Ninja
Want more awesome ways to learn Japanese? If so, you should check out my free course on how to study that business.
Did I mention that it’s free?
Anyways, good luck with your studies!