The Fluent Forever app prides itself on teaching you “to THINK in any language”. As a language coach, this is definitely something I teach my clients – avoid translations and conjugation tables (if your goals aren’t to translate or take conjugation exams) and learn to use the stuff.
In this Fluent Forever app review, let’s talk about how this app approaches the concept, what it could do better, and if it’s right for you in your language learning
Fluent Forever review: at first glance
Besides the approach, the other thing I really like about the Fluent Forever app is the app itself. It’s really well-made, pleasing to look at, super smooth, etc. The initial run-through of the app shows you everything you need to know.
Therefore, this review is going to take you through the same process the app goes through. What I mean by that, specifically, is I don’t usually talk about prices until the end of a review, right? Here, that’s the first thing I’ll mention. ‘Cause it just looks so nice!
You can choose to pay monthly or annually – monthly is just ten bucks a month, and annually is a fraction of that. This price point puts it right in the middle of other resources like it; it ain’t gonna break the bank.
On top of that, you also get a 14-day free trial, which is also incredibly reasonable!
Do you see that first checkmark? “Access to all our languages for 14 days”? I can see what the idea is, but it seems kind of backward to me. Basically, once you give them your money, you’re also getting…less?
I really love when language learning resources give you access to all their languages with one monthly subscription, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen access to all languages EXCEPT if you’re paying for it. Weird.
Nonetheless, the Fluent Forever app does have a solid collection of foreign languages to choose from:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- Spanish (Latin American)
- Spanish (Castilian)
Bonus points for two different Spanish accents! Let’s start out with Castilian Spanish (my go-to).
Fluent Forever app review for advanced learners
You’ll start out with two qualifying questions:
Of course, I started out with Advanced and Great to see how the Fluent Forever app is for intermediate and/or advanced learners. The first thing you do once you’ve qualified yourself is make your first flashcard.
At first glance, this is a super solid word to start with! “Pulgar” is not really a word you’ll find in textbooks a lot.
I recognized “pulgar” passively, but if you had asked me to translate “thumb” before this flashcard, I wouldn’t have been able to.
So from here, I was genuinely enjoying this app!
You’re offered a selection of popular images to trigger the word in your brain, or you can also opt to take your own picture with your phone.
Once you make your first flashcard, you learn how to use the app.
You tap the photo to check your answer, then swipe right if you’re right, left if you’re wrong. It seems they’re hopping onto the Tinder strategy, so I’m assuming it works.
At this point, I was 100% loving this app. The first word that was shown to me was definitely at my (vaguely advanced) level, and I can see how the app would be really fun to use.
So far, so good. Whenever an app mentions a Spaced Repetition Algorithm (I still maintain nobody does it quite like Anki!) I take it with a big ol’ grain of salt, but I was willing to look over that at this point.
Then you’ll get a short tutorial of the app’s basic “tasks”.
At this point, I’m still diggin’ this app. With a Daily Streak Task, that suggests some solid daily accountability. Those of you who love the soft daily accountability of streaks with apps like Duolingo and Mondly will approve!
And, to be fair, the app follows through:
I mean…they’re not wrong.
This is where the Fluent Forever app gets…iffy (but I was still pretty optimistic at this point).
At the top of this app, I got some stats, which I assume they assume from those first qualifying questions.
While these stats happen to likely be fairly accurate (“happen to”, “likely”, and “fairly” being the operative words here), they feel really precise considering those qualifying questions were pretty general.
And, as we’re about to see, the fact that I’m questioning these stats is not totally unfounded.
I went in to learn some new words, and here’s what happened.
First of all, if you already know that I’m at least an intermediate learner, why are you showing me these beginner words? If this app assumes I’m at B2, why is it showing me A1 words? What a turn-off.
I got a little bit of optimism back thinking that I could easily swipe these words away (I dunno, maybe swiping them shifts an algorithm or something?), but no.
Sure, you can swipe them, but then it’ll give you this option, and then it’ll take a second to reload. Which takes forever, especially considering that, again, it’s already assumed I’m at a B2 level.
Okay, okay, so maybe it’s just not good for intermediate/advanced language learners? Beginner apps are perfectly valid, and these qualifying questions could simply be misleading.
Fluent Forever app review for beginners
Clearly, this strategy isn’t the best for more language learners approaching Fluent Forever with a solid vocabulary already, so let’s switch to French. From here on out, I totally get the method now.
You’ll start out with the first image, given a word. This won’t be your normal, run-of-the-mill beginner word, though, ’cause that’s not the way Fluent Forever works. You’ll get some vocab, but the point here is the sounds.
You’ll create a pretty dynamic digital flashcard: the word, its translation, an audio clip, and an image of your choosing (I’m personally not going to spend time uploading my own photo and sometimes the images that pop up automatically are kind of hit or miss) to help you learn visually.
You’ll get a few of those, see it once or twice, then it’s shuffled into your deck. When you review your deck, you’ll be tested a few different ways. The first is the image on the right: reproducing the correct sound as it’s used in that particular word.
Other examples include how to spell the word, remembering the word when you see the image, and these (my favorite):
I love the Ear Training! Here, the Fluent Forever app pits a French word against a very similar-sounding English word so you can learn to differentiate between the two. And, just like the vocab cards, these concepts are also reviewed via flashcards.
In my opinion, this is an excellent strategy for not only mastering your pronunciation but also being able to understand the words that are spoken to you. Fluent Forever’s Ear Training gets an A+ from me!
Pairing this with The Mimic Method makes a chef’s kiss of an approach to foreign language pronunciation.
Fluent Forever’s personalized flashcards
Recently, Fluent Forever updated its system to include the ability for language learners to easily create their own flashcards, which I love. While curated flashcards are great, they can be very limiting, especially past the beginner levels.
With this new feature (located at the “Explore” icon on the bottom toolbar), you can search for any word or translation of the word to be added to your flashcards. You get the option to create custom flashcards with just the singular word (which I don’t personally recommend – context is king) as well as with context supplied by Fluent Forever themselves.
The number of sentences you have to choose from depends on the word itself – while there was only one sentence available for this word, I’ve seen some words with up to 5 options for sentences.
Plus, once you select the sentence you want, you also get a chance to add imagery to the flashcard, just like Fluent Forever’s other word-only cards. These make for some very engaging digital flashcards! You will have to manually input every single word (not a big deal for beginners, very big deal for sentence miners), but all in all, Fluent Forever is shaping up to be a great tool.
This Fluent Forever review shows us a language learning app that’s excellent for beginner language learners (intermediate/advanced can benefit too, but not so much in my opinion) who specifically want to approach their language learning starting from sounds, not necessarily beginner vocabulary.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m also a huge fan of learning to “think” in the language (as they put it), and I do have to say that Fluent Forever does this pretty well.
It’s always growing, too! Fluent Forever members get access to their private Facebook group where they can ask questions and sometimes get updates. Plus, they keep their future plans for development available to the public, so you never have to wonder if whatever feature you’re looking for is coming soon.
For a language app with such a colorful history (as the most crowd-funded app in history, as well as the best-selling book), I do have to say that Fluent Forever lives up to the hype for beginner language learners who want to build fluency with the language’s sounds, not necessarily different words.