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FluentU for authentic language learning

In an increasingly flattened world, the need to develop fluency in more than one language becomes increasingly critical for collaboration and participation.

I recently discovered the FluentU website, as well as the recently launched FluentU iPhone app, for language learning on the go.

Language learning has long been a back-burner kinda goal for me, but I suddenly find myself motivated to squeeze in time for refreshing my long dormant high school/college Spanish.  And I am finding it fun with this balanced combination of cultural immersion and strategic repetition and clean inviting interface.  FluentU allows for choice of level–newbie, elementary, intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced, and native. (Note: not all levels are currently available for each language.)  The free platform is available for both students and teachers, with reasonably priced premium learning features available.

FluentU leverages a combination of learning features, including a combination of instructional and aggregated, engaging real-world video (with transcriptions and optional subtitles), audio, flashcards, playlists and favoriting options.  Learner may check off skills they have already mastered so they do not continue to show.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.17.44 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.20.11 PM

On its About page, FluentU shares:

Traditional tools like textbooks have been essential for us. But what we’ve found is that we learn best through rich, engaging experiences. It’s easy to remember words when they’re reinforced by experiences that move you. We also believe early exposure to engaging content helps prevent learners from giving up before they’re fluent.

A site that can deliver such rich experiences, supported by the right set of tools, can transform language learning. We’re working to make that site a reality for you.  FluentU is brought to you by a team of passionate language learners distributed around the world.

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I am kinda in love with the rich interactive video elements.  Selected from YouTube, video content is transcribed and subtitled and available in: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Japanese, and Italian.  Carefully curated video choices are organized by level, genre–movies, movie trailers, music videos, songs, commercials, television, talks/speeches and more–and also organized by topic–arts and entertainment, business, culture, everyday life, health and lifestyle, politics and society, and science and tech.  Users can hover over the dictionary to clarify and hear unfamiliar words.

Videos mScreen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.47.44 PMay be viewed and studied in little consoles with a variety of handy control features, including segmented sections, the hover-over dictionary, and a loop button for easy repetition.

The platform integrates its fun, interactive learning tools with the video elements, allowing users to study video vocabulary with a built-in flashcard system.

In the practice areas, users are invited to engage in fill in the blanks, unjumble sentences, and focus learning on highlighted words not yet mastered.   A series of blogs for learners and teachers are also available, providing tips and support for learning and teaching.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.27.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.56.34 PM

This is a fabulous platform for independent language learners and I believe the world language and ESL teachers with whom you work with will fall for it instantly, whether they subscribe or use the free elements less formally with their classes.

(While iPad is the mobile version currently available, versions for additional platforms are  in the works.)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Hi, Joyce!

    I was really interested in your blog when I glanced at the title. I currently teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) online to Chinese natives. After reading your blog, I definitely am curious about FluentU, especially since I am currently using Livemocha personally. I like how LiveMocha is fueled by a community of native speakers who listen, read, and grade responses of users who are trying to learn a language.

    How does FluentU utilize the community of learners? Also, you mentioned how educators can use FluentU to spearhead language learning. Could you provide more specific details (maybe certain tabs to click on or a demo video example)? I’m really glad that you made this post, and I am eager to make this information into a reality.

    Mrs. KMac

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