In recent years, the concept of learning a language on YouTube and Netflix has made way for lots of new opportunities to learn foreign languages for free. First, there was CaptionPop, then Language Reactor, and now we have this Trancy review.
So how does Trancy compare to the competition and how do you know if you should use it to learn a language? Let’s discuss what this Chrome extension does well, what it doesn’t, and what kind of language learner it’s for.
While you can use Trancy to learn a language with any YouTube video or Netflix show/movie, it only supports the following languages:
Now, when I say ‘only’, that isn’t to say that it’s a bad thing; on the contrary, if it’s designed to support just a handful of languages, the quality of the translation is probably better than much of the competition.
I’m not a translator so I can’t speak on this for sure, but it is a pattern that I see across language learning resources: the fewer the languages, the higher the quality of the education.
That said, let’s dive into what it’s like to use Trancy to learn a language!
How to use Trancy
Trancy is a Chrome extension, so once you enable it in your browser, booting it up is just a matter of clicking the little icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your video.
It is worth noting that Trancy is not compatible with AdBlock, so if you rely on it for your viewing experience that may prove to be an obstacle. There is a tutorial preventing AdBlock from stopping Trancy from working, but honestly, it’s a lot of work and if I’m using Trancy myself, I’ll just turn off AdBlock temporarily.
After you click the logo, you’ll get a theater-esque screen with bilingual subtitles and a few icons in the corner. These icons initiate the features of Trancy that I feel are really special. But we’ll talk about those in a second.
First, let’s talk about the functionality of the subtitles themselves (keeping in mind this isn’t where this Chrome extension truly shines).
They’re smooth, functional, and easy to read. You can easily turn the original and translated subtitles on and off, and save either entire sentences or single words for later.
While you don’t get the option to blur out the translated subtitles when you’re watching a video like Language Reactor does, this feature does show up in practice mode which we haven’t gotten to yet. Just in case you were missing that part in the video above like I was.
Trancy also gives you the option to switch modes between focusing on the video itself or the subtitles, which can be a nice customizable feature. You can get the benefit of the video while also being able to really focus on the words. A little bit of customization like that can really go a long way.
Suffice it to say that the subtitles themselves are beautiful. No real complaints here – if anything, I’m just being nit-picky. So let’s look at my favorite feature of Trancy: practice mode.
Trancy review: practice mode
Once you boot up Trancy, slide your mouse over and click “Practice mode”, the headphones icon. Or just tap P on your keyboard. Here you’ll get the video’s subtitles already created into 5 different activities:
This is how each activity functions.
Trancy is a new Chrome extension. These features aren’t amazing yet, but there’s a lot of potential.
For example, I would love it if you could go into settings and turn on/off different things, like if the audio clip repeats after you get it correct, access to letters and accents that you may not have on your keyboard, and that pesky timer in the upper right-hand corner.
Some might like the timer, but it gives me a lot of anxiety. I feel like I have to rush to find the answers. Let me disable that clock!
Regardless, the basic concept is unique and a real benefit to language learners. And if activities like this are what you’re already doing but with fewer steps, I do recommend you switch over to using Trancy.
As you’ve seen in the videos above, you can “heart” any word or sentence to save and study it for later. When you’re ready to do that, you can visit the Trancy website/platform and easily see what you’ve saved.
This is what that looks like.
Again, interesting concept, but this could use work.
I would love to see Trancy using the audio from the actual video as opposed to a robot voice. This would be more helpful for understanding the language as it’s used by native speakers and actual humans, which is an entirely different experience.
Learning to understand a new language means training your brain to connect different sounds to the same words, which is why watching videos is excellent for listening comprehension. Losing that quality of the words you’re saving is really more significant than you may think!
Secondly, I understand that subtitles don’t always break at natural sentence endings. But that sentence isn’t a sentence. It’s 2 and a half sentences. This means that either you just deal with funky practice, or you go in and manually shift your sentences around.
You do get the option to download your saved terms as a PDF or .csv, but it doesn’t include audio. If you want to add audio to your flashcards (assuming you already have a chosen study tool), you’ll have the extra step of finding or creating your own audio.
Trancy’s AI functions
When visiting your collections, you may have noticed a couple of AI functions. They honestly feel kind of random and out of left field when you’re just trying to study your material, but they could be beneficial if you give them a shot.
For example, Trancy offers AI chatbot conversations. This isn’t a new concept at all, but I’m genuinely impressed by the functionality! With other chatbots (say, Lingodeer or Mondly), the conversation is pre-planned. It’s practice, but it’s stale. Trancy, on the other hand, uses AI to bring this tech to life.
This was a whole conversation that would be incredibly helpful when it comes to thinking in and using a foreign language. Definitely a helpful step between learning words and real-life conversations.
P.S. You can also access all these functions on mobile via the Trancy app! On both Android and Apple, you can practice all of your saved collections and the AI features on any mobile device. It doesn’t include watching the functionality of the Chrome extension, so you can’t watch videos and collect new terms, but it’s something.
Trancy review: cost
The basic premise of this Chrome extension is free. If you find yourself using Trancy consistently, you can opt-in for upgrades including:
- save unlimited words and sentences
- unlimited practice
- enhanced translation
- AI-powered word/syntax explanations
- speaking practice
Fortunately for us, Trancy keeps it cheap; here’s the explanation behind their pricing:
Trancy Premium is a paid option, as most Premium features require Trancy to pay addition fees to third parties such as data center providers and openAI. Contributions from premium users allow us to cover these costs and help keep trancy free for everyone.
I hope this approach is successful for Trancy, because it keeps language learning accessible to all. Honestly, it’s only a few bucks a month, which is a no-brainer if you find yourself using it a lot.
Trancy review: should you try it?
Now that we’ve reached the end of this Trancy review, is it the Chrome extension for you? Here are some thoughts.
If you enjoy watching videos in your target language and would get even more practice with Trancy automatically creating activities from subtitles, I highly recommend Trancy. I love how it automatically creates engaging, functional activities out of the media you’re already watching, so you can activate all of your language skills, not just your listening skills.
Plus, the chatbot is surprisingly great! That feature in itself is a 10/10.
However, there are a lot of small, nit-picky issues that are only really cons when compared to other options that have been around longer, and therefore have had more time to iron these things out. So if you’re perfectly happy using Language Reactor to create your own activities and avoid some small functionality issues, you may be just fine doing that.