We are all familiar with our mother-tongue; learning a new language with ease is another story.
To learn a foreign language, people always recommend watching their movies and listening to their music. Watching and listening tend to be the most natural means of understanding any new linguistic.
Yabla is a subscription-based website for learning new languages through entertaining videos. Yabla derives its name from a Spanish word habla, which means “to speak.”
The modern method of teaching and learning calls for a less daunting and more fun approach. Yabla utilizes this philosophy and delivers its content through entertaining videos.
Their product tagline is learning language through immersion. We can point out that Yabla is more useful for students who are reasonably conversant with foreign language.
- Short and entertaining video content makes learning fun.
- Language immersion uses the student's native language to learn a new one, and subtitles are available in both the vernacular.
- The highlight of Yabla is its video control features. The students can slow down the videos speed, loop the video, control the viewing mode, and adjust subtitle toggles.
- Games activities after every video help to test the acquired knowledge.
- Yabla is not for everyone; the beginners will have less resource to start with, and learning a new language just by watching videos is also not recommendable.
- The UI of the software looks relatively old and rustic, an upgrade in design can improve it’s aesthetic
Yabla started in 2001 with few Spanish videos, and in 2005, it began accepting subscribers for Spanish as well as French. It has been in operation for almost 2 decades.
It currently offers 6 languages; English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Chinese.
Their video library includes TV shows, cartoons, music videos, documentaries, news segment, language lessons, and more. They have turned entertainment videos into language learning sessions.
Yabla is a language immersion tool featuring authentic videos with interactive controls. Its video player has features that enable a student to grasp the lesson content.
Learning more languages has become a trend now. We live in a multicultural environment, where one requires to interconnect with people who speak in different tongues.
Yabla offers a subscription for various users; individual, school/organization, school district, and the option to gift Yabla to someone.
A glance at the dashboard, which holds a collection of videos, hits you with nostalgia. The UI emits a rustic impression like the one most sites had a decade ago.
The top-most panel hosts tabs for videos, flashcards, leaderboard, and lessons. The navigation panel is self-explanatory and easy to use.
Yabla offers enough navigation tools to search for the videos that you want to watch, again only intermediate level students will be able to sort this out.
A search bar has been ideally placed to search for any videos by title, transcript, or description out of 1903 availed English learning videos. Of course, new videos are added every week for every language they offer.
An “order by” tab gives the student the option to view the content in order of title (A..Z or Z..A), oldest, most difficult, or least difficult.
Such options can be only be utilized by students who know what they are looking for from the vast collection of videos.
New videos, recommended videos, for download, your bookmarks, watched videos, unwatched videos, and continue watching choices availed for easy navigation.
Provisions for displaying videos according to the level of difficulty (beginners, intermediate, and advanced) is available in Yabla.
The last resort to sort videos can be through selection from the categories that exist.
They host many types of videos, which include action, animation, culture/art, lessons, music, news, comedy, people, demo, science, commercial, documentary, society, drama, sports, travel, life, economy, world, history, food, interviews, leisure, and so on.
Yabla provides enough options for the student to identify the perfect video collection for study purpose. He/she may choose from categories or decide the difficulty level that implies on him/her.
Yabla displays the videos with the title beside it. The level of difficulty of that video is illustrated using 5 TV like emojis.
They also write the range of difficulty along with the emojis, for instance, beginner, newbie, Adv-intermediate, intermediate, and advanced.
An icon of the world shows the name of the country of origin of that video.
A brief description of the video is also visible. The student can comment on the video, or bookmark it.
Scores field enable a pop-up window which summarises student’s scores in the game tests that he/she has taken.
A transcript pop-up window breaks down what is in the video to a written article. A student can know the meaning of any term by clicking on the word. One can also see the speech rate, and the ratings are out of 5.
The number of words uttered per minute in the video is also visible.
The videos carry content which the student needs to learn from and understand. Yabla designs its video player with features that enable the students to learn a new language.
Yabla hosts an interactive, dual-language video player, which delivers the learning content to the students. It was the first of it’s kind in the field of CALL.
The videos are usually from Tv, movies, music, and they have native language speakers.
Yabla produces these videos and also incorporates licensed videos from third-parties such as RAI in Italy, Telefe in Argentina and RheinmainzTV in Germany.
When you want to watch any video, the first page asks you to choose your native language. It allows you to set it as default too.
If your subscription is to learn English, but your native language is French, then the video player will show subtitles in both the languages. This is why it is called immersive language learning.
Video control buttons
The student has control over the videos. He/she can play, pause, go back, go forward, loop, slow, and change the mode of the screen (standard, theatre, and full-screen).
The aim is to study the language by watching videos; hence, the student might want to re-visit doubtful parts. These control buttons offer precisely that – control over the tutorial videos.
The small bar below the video shows the subsections. Each subsection pertains to a unique caption.
The sample video above has 42 subsections. Above the bar, its written “Caption: 9/42”.
As the video progresses, the caption also changes. The captions are necessary as the playback buttons, and the games that Yabla integrates make use of it.
When you press the back button, the video jumps to the start of the current subsection. The same rule applies to the next button. Re-peated clicks take you to former subsections accordingly.
One can skip to the subsections by clicking on the bar below the video. It works in both play and pause mode.
The slow down button is in the picture of a tortoise, and we can slow down to 75% and 50% of the original speed of the video.
The video’s speed is brought back to normal by clicking on the slow button again.
This feature is vital for students to re-grasp what they missed out in the first place. It is a handy feature in the player.
All the students can appreciate its existence due to the role it plays in the understanding of the language.
Another exciting feature of the player is the loop. When you click on the loop button, the current subsection keeps playing on repeat mode until disabled by clicking on the loop button.
The room for repetition allows one to digest the lesson and comprehend it thoroughly.
All the videos have subtitles in the target and the translation language. The use of 2 languages (subtitles), authenticates Yabla as an immersive language learning tool.
Immersion is a technique which uses 2 languages to provide instructions; L1 and L2.
L1 is typically the native language of the student, and L2 is the second language that the student aims to learn. There are different ways of applying L1 and L2 vernaculars to achieve the desired results.
There are various degrees of immersion one can adopt, full, partial, or bilingual immersion.
The modern immersion method originated in Canada in the 1960s, which made schools teach French besides English to the students. It is now a tool to promote bilingual education.
The screen of the video player displays the subtitles of the dual languages. However, toggle buttons enable switching off the captions of any language or even both of them.
Subtitles ensures the student learn at their own pace. Some follow only the target language subtitles, while others use both language subtitles.
Yabla player offers 3 methods of viewing their videos. The standard, theatre, and full-screen mode.
We can divide the standard viewing mode into 2 sections. On the left, we have the video, the subsections, the captions with their on-off subtitle toggle buttons and the video control buttons.
The standard mode host the bilingual dictionary on the right panel of the video. To look up the word in the dictionary, click on the words seen on the captions panel. The definition of the word will be visible.
The video control buttons appear at the bottom, and the last 2 buttons represent the theatre and the full-screen mode.
The theatre mode utilizes three-quarter of its space to host the video. On the video screen, are the video control buttons along with the toggles.
The captions also appear on the screen, and by clicking on any word the bilingual dictionary appears above it.
The expand button is clicked to access the full-screen mode. The video fills the screen, and when the cursor moves, the video control buttons go away.
The student sees the captions and their on-off toggles. The student has the freedom to choose any viewing mode by his/her likes.
Additional features of Yabla player
In the standard viewing mode, above the bilingual dictionary, there is a menu bar which shows the video title.
If the video is a part of a series, then by clicking on the title menu bar, all the other videos in the series are outlined.
A mentioned earlier, the series feature of Yabla is recommendable. It enables the creation of many short videos. Lengthy videos can be a turn-off to students, and so the series feature saves the day.
Under the settings, button toggles are provided to enable HD quality, auto replay, and tooltips on buttons.
The text size setting enables one to choose from various options, extra small, small, standard, large, or extra-large.
There is also an option to select your translation language in the settings.
The Yabla video player offers a wide range of video controls, and the student can use to them to their benefit. One can download the videos so that they can be accessible at any time on offline mode.
Yabla also has tutorial videos on how to operate the video player under their “Help” section. Their FAQ sections contain articles and videos to guide the students.
Yabla’s video player is a treat to use, and it is living up to its expectation.
There is a saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It was taken seriously by Yabla.
They offer fun ways to learn a language, avoiding all kinds of uninteresting activities.
After every video, there’s a games section, which contains tests related to the video that the student viewed. These include multiple-choice, fill in the blanks, and scribe. Provision for viewing scores is available.
The multiple-choice game provides 5 choices to a question. The video clip plays, and the student has to listen and choose the correct answer. Option to slow down and replay the video also exists.
This test demands a student to have excellent listening skills, and it aims to improve reading skills too. The student needs to read all the choices and then select the correct one.
There are 2 rounds, with 10 questions on each round.
The points earned in the game is visible on the top of the page. After every round, a popup window displays scores in details, question-wise.
Fill in the blank follows the same sequence of 2 rounds with 10 questions. The student listens to the video and types the answer in the blank space. Next question button allows the student to proceed with the test.
The video can be slowed down and replayed. This test improves a student’s knowledge of spelling a word. If the typed answer is correct, the system informs the student and then only can he/she proceed to the next question.
The top panel hosts the quit game option.
The last game it offers is the scribe. This is a relatively more demanding game in comparison with the first 2 games.
The student has to listen and type a sentence in the same order as the words heard from the speaker.
Option to slow down the video is also given. The student can also reveal the translation language to get a better understanding.
The game consists of multiple sets, each dealing with a different caption from the original video. There are many captions in each set, and they hold a star.
Scribe has a complex scoring system; the student receives scores and stars too.
These interactive games make learning fun. The student, without realizing learns a lot by consistently playing such games.
The schools/organizations which subscribes to Yabla can give these games as homework. It improves listening, writing, and reading skills of a student.
We feel that not all the game activities have good content to impact enough knowledge of the language. Some videos are relatively old, and its audio quality may not be so good. Some rich content and better video and audio quality can improve the game section.
Personalized flashcard decks
Flashcards can be physical or virtual. Physical flashcards have been in existence since the 19th century.
The purpose of flashcard is to improve one’s memory. It’s the process of active recalling what you have already learned.
Yabla utilizes spaced repetition software to provide flashcards. Spaced repetition exploits the physiological spacing effect.
The spacing effect holds that learning conducted over some time is better as opposed to learning the same content in a single session.
This way, new and more complicated words added by the student are tested frequently while old words appear less regularly while reviewing the words in the flashcard.
Flashcard homepage shows an overview of all the unknown words one had clicked while watching video tutorials. Their flashcard deck contains 21 words in a set.
It is a way of studying, and it allows you to test your word knowledge. This is made possible by the reviewing process.
The unknown words are brought to screen one by one in the same sequence as in the set.
The first word appears, and the student has to identify if he/she knows the meaning of the word. 2 options are available: “I think I know it,” or “I don’t know it.”
If the students choose the option of knowing, then its definition, caption, translation, and the source video of the word is revealed on screen.
The student answers systems question whether you were right about it or not.
If the student selects that he/she wasn’t right about the answer, then a bar gauge just below the word is adjusted accordingly.
One reviews the word multiple times, and when the bar gauge is full; system notes that the student is now well-versed with the word.
If the student had clicked on “I don’t know it” button, then its definition is displayed, and the option of next is displayed.
Adding reminders to review words in the flashcard can be a powerful feature for students who forget to do so.
Currently, only words can be added to the flashcard, leaving behind phrases and idioms. Some work on this will be helpful.
Yabla's leaderboard holds a comprehensive outlook for scores that a student has earned till date in comparison to the top 10 performing scores in each category of games.
Scores act as a motivator. The student gets an urge to do well, earn highest points, and appear in this list of the top winners.
On the leaderboard, one can view the top 10 list based on numbers of days, 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, and all time. The scores get updated every midnight (New York timing).
At the end of the top 10 list, the student sees his/her points, and it can be used to rate the performance.
The students are required to go through the game activities after watching the lesson videos. At the end of each game, points of each level and the scores of the game get recorded.
The scores are earned and recorded when the student completes the whole game. In some cases, the first attempt may not receive you any score. Playing it multiple times may make you reach the set goal for score earning.
For instance, if the multiple-choice game has 2 rounds with 10 questions each, the student is awarded 2 points for each correct answer. If all answers are correct, then the points earned are added to the total scores for that video.
Leaderboard gives a competitive edge to students and can lead the student to play the games activities multiple times, hence improving the language.
The last tab on the Yabla dashboard is lessons. Here you will find a collection of all previous lessons that were in the Yabla newsletter. The Yabla newsletter announces the new videos and includes recent teaching.
A drop-down reveals the list of topics available for learning. There are several videos below it with headings and descriptions.
There is a search button, which allows you to look for a lesson that contains that word/phrase.
The student can choose the topic and go through the material. The description of the topic is on one side, and relatable videos on the left panel side.
The lessons often contain links to more in-depth external resources as well.
Many language learning softwares provide the students with a structured outline of course work. The student knows what he/she has to study and in what sequence. This is missing out in Yabla.
The students have no fixed hierarchy of lessons to follow. The student gets full control to choose his/her sessions, but no guidance is available.
Also, one has to subscribe to the Yabla newsletter to stay informed. We fail to fathom how a beginner level student manages to learn from such informal arrangements.
Yabla offers an entertaining approach towards learning as it incorporates Tv and other engaging videos in the study routine.
Yabla offers a massive collection of short videos which are usually not longer than 5 minutes. Moreover, series are made if there is a need to provide more content on the same subject, excellent idea.
The short duration of videos keep students engaged, and their grasping power is also maintained.
The videos also indicate the difficulty level, thus its more comfortable for a student to select an appropriate video.
The Yabla video player is the star feature; it enables a student to pause, slow, loop, rewind, or forward content. The player displays the subtitle captions and provides ease of accessing the bilingual dictionary.
The games test the level of knowledge regarding that video. The scores are an added benefit as they keep motivating the students to do better.
Flashcards provide an effective way of learning. It discourages “cramming” and advocates studying at intervals in the long run, which may be challenging but results in better knowledge.
Yabla is almost 20 years old software, and maybe due to that, it has still maintained its rustic UI. An upgrade in design can be recommendable.
Yabla offers only videos, no written texts or files; one has to use his/her listening and reading techniques to learn a new language. A student can get distracted due to the entertaining videos as well.
There is no fixed learning structure; student watches any video he/she wants and in any chronology.
The video content is uncensored; some videos’ content (from Tv and music videos) may not be suitable for children. Therefore, discretion required before allowing children access to such videos.
Yabla can be used more effectively by intermediate level students. Having a background knowledge will be sufficient to enhance the speaking part by learning new vocabularies and right accent.
A beginner may fail to understand on how to start learning a new language just by watching videos; however, its use as a supplementary tool can guarantee fun learning.