Yabla is a new player in the computeer assisted language learning scene - much like Babbel and Duolingo are. It is part of the new generation of language learning solutions that are marketed towards the growing market of self-directed language learners on their path to fluency (or whatever their reasons are for taking up a new language).
Again, as is par for the course is for any review, it's always hard to find one that is free from any sleight-of-hand moves that tries to sell you a product or worse, sell you a dream.
But all that's about to change with this review - let's separate the facts from the myths and see just how this new tool can help you on your language learning journey regardless of your target language....before you shell out any of your hard-earned money for anything.
What's Yabla All About?
Yabla's premise is simple - think of it as a YouTube for foreign language shorts by native speakers (featuring music videos, skits, and dialogues) that you can watch online and on-demand, with matching interactive applets that feature translations, games, and settings for you to better understand the video. The difference is that there is no particular structure to the course, which is its greatest strength and weakness - think of it as a supplementary course for you to improve your listening comprehension and your pronunciation. You wouldn't see a course syllabus like most other computer assisted language learning programs do (like Rosetta Stone and Rocket Languages, for that matter), nor does it prescribe any particular way to conduct your learning. Don't expect to improve your writing, reading, or grammar exercises - but as it is, it's a great supplement to build listening comprehension (something that even the most experienced language learner has problems with).
That being said, however, Yabla does have its strong points. Here they are.
* Excellent video immersion tool to build listening comprehension: This is Yabla's main selling point - as this is something practically all language learners will struggle with at first, Yabla does a great job of training the ear to familiarize itself to the sound of a new foreign language.
* Exposure to conversational target language and regional varieties of accents: Not everyone will speak French the same way - for instance, a French speaker from the Congo will have some differences from a French speaker from Quebec. And that's what Yabla is best suited for - it helps students discern and be more familiar to how regional varieties sound, because not everyone you will meet on your language learning journey will speak a particular, one-size-fits-all standard. And best of all, you should be able to pick up some essential conversational skills that most language courses do not teach - that of conversational connectors.
* Something for everyone: There's a lot of good content here, and you won't get bored with it thanks to the great selection of content per language.
* The lack of structure: There is literally no structure to the course, which is why it is best suited as a supplementary tool to boost listening comprehension. In being so, it's not a good tool for absolute beginners to start with, unless he or she is really focusing on understanding what is being said.
* A fewer selection of languages on offer: Only Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Mandarin are offered as of yet (not including an English program for native Spanish speakers).
* A lack of options for user interaction: Compared to the communities that Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur have, Yabla's pales in comparison. There's not much to do outside of watching videos all day and looking up the meanings and translations.speakers.
Yabla was not meant to be a complete language learning solution as many of its other cousins likes to call themselves (looking at you, Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur), nor should you expect to be fluent after just watching a bunch of videos in the target language. It's meant to be taken as a supplement to build your listening comprehension and to train your ears to the native language, and if you temper your expectations of the software to this, you'll find that it's a great tool you'll find yourself using a lot over the course of your language learning journey. But even at the competitive prices it offers for the product, you'll probably be better off looking for videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and the like.