Language learning is full of hurdles.
You want to study a language, but you don’t have time to take a class.
You’d like to practice your existing language skills, but authentic resources are still too advanced.
You’re hoping to take your skills to the next level, but you just don’t know how.
Challenges like this could seem insurmountable, but they’re not. You just need the right tool—and that tool could be FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU can provide a solution to your language learning dilemmas.
Here’s what you need to know about how to learn a language online with FluentU!
How FluentU Can Meet Your Online Language Learning Needs
You need to use reliable resources.
There’s no doubt about it… there are tons of great online language learning tools out there.
However, making sure all the resources you use are high-quality and reliable can be challenging and time-consuming. After all, anyone can put language education materials up online, so how can you trust that the content creator actually knew what they were doing?
With FluentU, you don’t have to worry about researching resource after resource. FluentU is committed to quality language education, and the videos it provides are authentic.
You need to develop balanced skills.
Part of developing well-rounded language abilities is mastering all four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. With FluentU, listening and reading are core parts of the experience. FluentU uses captioned, real-world videos, so you’ll be reading along as you listen to real, native speech.
While you won’t be writing by hand with FluentU, our quizzes give you plenty of chances to practice your writing skills. Don’t worry—we won’t let you accidentally memorize the wrong accent mark in a word! Our quizzes will catch that mistake.
It’s also easy to work speaking practice into your FluentU experience. Simply pause videos and respond aloud to what you’ve heard.
You may need a flexible resource.
Not all language learners are able to go to an in-person course. Some people can only study for an hour each day, while others may not even have 10 minutes. Everyone’s needs are different, so many learners require a flexible resource.
FluentU is super flexible, and it can work well with any schedule or preferences. You choose what you watch, when you watch it and how long you spend watching, so you can spend hours studying each day or just a couple minutes.
You need to find level-appropriate material.
Choosing the right level of material can be tricky. After all, how do you even know what level you’re currently at? Sure, you could invest the time into an assessment to determine your current proficiency level. Sure, you could carefully analyze online resources to see if they’re at your level. But there’s an easier option—FluentU.
FluentU offers six levels of videos: beginner 1 and 2, intermediate 1 and 2 and advanced 1 and 2. You can filter videos by level to identify which options are most appropriate for your abilities.
But beyond that, FluentU uses an algorithm to adjust to your unique learning level. While you watch and study, FluentU tracks your learning to present you with level-appropriate questions that build on what you already know.
And because FluentU’s algorithm adjusts to your level, FluentU grows along with you!
You need something you’ll continue to use.
The only way you’ll ever become fluent is to keep at it. However, with some study tools, it’s easy to quit. You can only study for so long before you get bored and move on to something else.
FluentU, on the other hand, can inspire addictive learning. Videos are fun and engaging, so you may find yourself continuing to study your target language even if you meant to quit an hour ago.
You need a broad range of vocabulary.
To reach more advanced proficiency levels, your vocabulary will need to be vast and varied. That means you’ll need multiple resources to provide a greater variety, or you’ll need one powerful resource that incorporates a diverse selection of words. FluentU can be your go-to destination for the wide array of vocabulary you need.
Videos on FluentU cover a huge array of topics, including news, science, holidays, entertainment and more.
Plus, FluentU makes it easy to target specific vocabulary sets. Many videos focus on clear topics, so you can anticipate what sort of vocabulary you’ll learn before you even watch.
Once you select a video, you’ll see a list of key vocabulary that the video features, so you can tell if it’s relevant to what you’re hoping to learn. This makes it easy to study whatever vocabulary areas you need to work on.
How to Learn a Language Online: FluentU’s 11-step Method
1. Watch videos.
There’s a reason why people love watching YouTube—it’s because videos can be downright addictive! And watching videos with FluentU can make learning your target language just as addictive.
FluentU doesn’t just throw you into videos unprepared. Each video is captioned, and the captions are annotated. Whenever you need a little extra help, just hover over a word to see its definition, example sentences and an associated image. If the word or phrase appears in other videos on FluentU, you’ll also see those videos listed, providing a quick way to see the word in a different context.
Each video is accompanied by a vocabulary list that highlights key words you might not know yet. You can study this ahead of time to understand more of the video right away or use it to study more after you’ve watched.
If you have specific video preferences, FluentU even makes it easy to find videos that are right for you. Filtering options can help you narrow down your video choices.
For instance, you can filter videos based on the six skill levels. You can also filter by topic to find videos with a special focus, like business, culture, everyday life and more. If you’re looking to watch a specific type of video, like a commercial, movie trailer or vlog, you can also filter by format.
FluentU also has a search engine to help you find videos on a certain topic. Just type in whatever you want to learn about: taxi, manners, hiking, anything!
Using multimedia resources like FluentU can really impact your learning for the better. One study from the American Psychological Association suggests that language students may remember vocabulary better when they have access to both verbal and visual annotation, which means that hearing the word while seeing a physical representation can be exceptionally useful.
2. Listen to music.
Music lovers, take note! FluentU offers music videos in addition to other great video content.
Listening to music is a terrific way to learn a language. One study published by TESOL Quarterly suggests that songs can help students learn sounds, rhythm/stress, formulae, syntactical items and vocabulary, all of which are important for language students. The repetition used in songs makes them especially memorable, so they’re convenient study tools.
And FluentU provides a great way to learn a language through songs. Because videos are captioned, you don’t have to struggle to differentiate between words, and you can quickly find the meaning of any vocabulary you don’t immediately recognize. Plus, you can listen to spoken audio of words, allowing you to hear them outside of the stylized context of the song.
3. Listen to audio dialogues.
FluentU also offers audio dialogues. These dialogues can help you learn valuable keywords and sentences. Just like FluentU’s videos, the audio dialogues are captioned so that you can read along and have easy access to definitions and example sentences.
Plus, you can download audio dialogues to study offline, allowing you to study even in a Wi-Fi wasteland or while aboard a flight.
FluentU’s audio offerings differ depending on the language. For example, at the moment, there are audio dialogues for every level in Chinese but only for lower levels in French. However, we’re always working to create more and more material for every language!
4. Keep word lists.
FluentU makes keeping vocabulary lists super simple, so you can easily study any vocabulary you want to learn.
Whenever you encounter a word you don’t know, just click “add to” to put it in a vocabulary list. You can even create multiple vocabulary lists, allowing you to organize words based on theme, difficulty level or even how important they are to learn.
Once you’ve entered a word into your vocabulary list, you’ll have it on hand the next time you want to reinforce what you’ve learned.
5. Use flashcards.
Want to use an existing flashcard set? Want to create your own? With FluentU, you can do either!
FluentU has dozens of existing flashcard sets, particularly at the beginning levels. Students can use these to develop the foundations of their vocabulary, making it easier to watch beginning-level videos.
Crafting your own flashcard sets is just as easy! You can use your existing vocabulary lists to make flashcards that target the specific words you know you need to learn.
And unlike paper flashcards, FluentU’s digital flashcards provide additional support, including audio and example sentences. But FluentU’s flashcards offer so much more than that! Activities interspersed throughout lessons help you practice using vocabulary in context.
6. Read example sentences.
Each FluentU word entry is accompanied by example sentences, giving you a realistic look of how the word can be used in the real world. Example sentences also offer audio, so you can hear how the word sounds in context.
Not only that, but if the word appears in other videos on FluentU, you can also see example sentences from those videos, making it easy to cross-reference how the word may be used in different situations.
Reading example sentences is useful in and of itself because it gives you more insight into a word’s meaning and usage. However, you could also memorize example sentences to give you a handy model to construct similar sentences.
7. Follow a playlist for structure.
Sometimes, deciding your own learning path can seem like too big a burden to bear. But no need to worry! If you need a little guidance, FluentU can show you a good path.
FluentU offers structured playlists. These playlists introduce basic vocabulary and sentences to give you the foundations you need for additional study down the road. They feature captioned audio lessons and word lists to give you a good foundation for your road to fluency. After you’ve completed each video in the playlist, you can even take a quiz to test what you learned.
Not only that, but you can download playlist lessons directly to your phone so that you don’t need internet access to use them.
8. Take quizzes.
You can take quizzes at the end of course lessons, but that isn’t your only opportunity to take fun, engaging quizzes that put your language skills to the test! You can also take a quiz after each video you watch. This means you’ll have the opportunity to reinforce what you learned by using it in context. And who doesn’t love a good challenge?
Quizzes present you with a variety of activities, including fill-in-the-blank sentences, translation exercises and more. With videos and audio interspersed, the quizzes can be both engaging and enjoyable for language learners.
9. Use a spaced repetition system.
Learning vocabulary can be so time consuming. You study the same words over and over again, but how can you get them to stick?
The secret may be spaced repetition. Spaced repetition focuses on presenting words at specific intervals intended to aid retention and increase learning efficiency.
Studies show that this method can be highly effective. But how does that impact learners? Well, using a spaced repetition system can help you shave some valuable time off learning new words, so you might be able to learn your target language more quickly and with less effort. Who wouldn’t want that?
And guess what? FluentU uses a spaced repetition system! If you want to get into the technical details, FluentU uses an algorithm based on a variation of the Supermemo SM2 algorithm, which is the algorithm used by Anki, a leading flashcard app.
10. Look up new words.
We’ve already told you that you can easily look up any word you hear in a video or audio clip, but there’s more! You can also use FluentU’s search feature to look up specific words.
With FluentU, you can search for words in English or your target language, making it easy to find the vocab you’re looking for. And once you find your word, boy, are you in for a learning experience!
Not only will you have access to the word’s pronunciation, definition and part of speech, you’ll also be able to see which FluentU videos use that word. If that word appears in any videos, you can watch the videos quickly and easily, which allows you to see the word in context.
Not only that, but looking up words produces a convenient word/phrase list that can show you other words and phrases that are related to what you searched. If you typed the word incorrectly or just couldn’t remember the spelling, this can help you find the word you were looking for. However, you could also use this list as a tool to study additional words that share a similar spelling or meaning.
11. Set goals.
Sure, setting goals can give you direction and help you stay on track… but goals are so much more than that.
A study published by Educational Psychologist suggests that setting and meeting goals can actually make students feel more capable of continuing to improve their skills. Feeling capable could prove an important motivational tool that gives you the confidence you need to progress forward towards fluency.
But who will hold you accountable for the goals you set? FluentU can. FluentU allows you to input your daily goal for how much time you want to study. If you meet your goal, you earn points. If you set and meet bigger goals, you earn even more points. Once you earn a certain number of points, you graduate to the next level.
Seeing how high you can get your point total can be a fun way to challenge yourself and ensure you always meet your goals.
If you have a competitive streak, you could also challenge your friends to a learning showdown! Just set a deadline and challenge everyone in your group to see how high they can get their point total before that deadline passes. And because FluentU offers a variety of languages, you and your friends don’t even need to study the same language to compete!
Which strategies will you use to learn a language online with FluentU? Sign up for a free trial to see what FluentU can do for you!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.