Yabla is a subscription Web site for learning foreign languages with videos that you will like! Why am I so sure that you’ll like it? Because Yabla turns entertainment videos into language lessons.
Here’s How Yabla Works
First they take dramatic videos, music videos, and any type of video you can think of. Next they add subtitles in both English and your new language—and instantly they have turned entertainment videos into language lessons.
As a person who develops language learning software, I give Yabla my highest praise, which is, “I wish I had developed this software!”
No, I don’t get any money from Yabla, and the link to the Yabla site from my Web site is NOT an affiliate link.
The Most Important Features of Yabla
Here I’m logged into Yabla Spanish lessons.
On the left you have navigation tools that help you search for videos by level of difficulty, by category, or by what you have watched before.
On the top you can sort the list of videos by title, by most recently added, and by the most difficult or least difficult video. It’s a very easy-to-use Web site.
Remember that Yabla has many categories of videos, and videos that range from very simple to very complex. Let’s start by watching a simple teaching video for a few seconds, and then I will pause and show you some features.
Yabla has subtitles in both Spanish and English. Look at the right of the screen below the video and you will see the word hide. You can turn off either the English subtitles or the Spanish subtitles or both, and of course you can easily turn them back on again.
Now, say that you want to know what this word means in Spanish. Simply click on the Spanish word in the Spanish subtitle, and on the right-hand side you get an English definition from several different dictionaries. That’s a great feature.
Now let’s watch a little bit of a soap opera in Spanish so you can see what an entertainment lesson looks like.
Once again you can pause, go back or forward, and easily look up words you don’t know.
Yes, Yabla is fun, it’s interesting, it’s entertaining, but the question that you should be asking yourself is:
Will I Really Learn Spanish With Yabla?
Well, statistically speaking, you won’t learn a new language, and here’s why. There is nothing about Yabla that is psychologically sticky. Nothing that keeps you coming back to study day after day. It’s way too easy to pay for it once and forget it. I liked Yabla enough to subscribe and to renew my subscription when the first one expired, but I haven’t used it nearly as much as I would have liked to.
The games in Yabla are almost useless. The flashcards will only be useful for people who need to pass a Spanish test.
My most important criticism of Yabla is that there is absolutely nothing on the Yabla site that explains how to effectively use it! You are simply dropped into a pool of language learning tools, with no advice on how to effectively use them.
In fact, I am almost certain that the people who developed Yabla have no idea how to quickly learn anything new.
Is there a way to effectively use Yabla? You bet there is. I’ve made a video titled, “How to Learn English with Movies.” The principles of this video apply to learning all languages, and you won’t get much from Yabla without these principles.
I recommend Yabla for people who are already conversant in their new language and who want to become more fluent. If you have the discipline to go back to Yabla and study every day, and if you study in the way that I instruct you in my “How to learn English with Movies” video, Yabla will be an excellent tool for you that might even get you fluent.
Yabla is also very useful for one other category of language learners. These are people who have memorized a LOT of words using any method but still can’t speak the language. These people will benefit a LOT from Yabla plus following the advice in my “How to Learn English with Movies” video.
Who Should NOT Use Yabla
If you are going on vacation to Mexico in eight weeks from now and you want to have a better time speaking Spanish, don’t use Yabla. Pimsleur or Language101.com will do a much better and faster job of taking you from nothing to minimally conversant.
Warning for People With Good Taste
I need to give a special warning about Yabla to conservative families, people who teach children, and anyone with good taste. There are a LOT of videos on Yabla that are full of violent and abusive behavior that is degrading to people everywhere.
I’m a world traveler with a lot of stamps in my passport, and believe me, I’m no prude. But there are a LOT of videos on Yabla that I don’t want either to watch or accidentally stumble into, especially on a site that I have paid for.
So if you are a person with particular moral values, or a person buying Yabla for your children or your school or university, you absolutely must pay attention to the sign-up process. Yabla does let you screen out the filth during the sign-up process, so pay attention at the checkout.
Very conservative religious families should select the “family friendly only” option during sign-up. Selecting the “mildly suggestive” option will let you see content that is roughly like what you might see on American network prime-time television.
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