Yabla is a platform for language learners to find listening practice in all levels of the languages that are currently supported. It’s an awesome way to take in new vocab in context, play games, etc.
What does Yabla do well, and what are its flaws? In this Yabla review, let’s talk about what kind of language learners can really benefit from Yabla and who should give it a shot!
Yabla has a ton of video content at every level imaginable, but it’s not available in many languages, at least not yet. Right now, Yabla is an option for those learning:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
These are all very commonly-learned foreign languages, which make it a great option for many language learners.
Yabla review: getting started
When I first created my Yabla account, I was kind of taken aback by the first question I got.
Ooooooh, viewer discretion? Saucy!
As I’m about to talk about, though, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly because Yabla’s content comes from a variety of places, including foreign sitcoms. So the videos you’re going to watch probably won’t be R-rated or anything, don’t get too excited!
Anyways, when you get started, you’ll get a kind of dashboard with a huge list of videos you can watch. It’s kind of overwhelming at first glance, but I suggest you start from the left-hand side, where you can choose your current level, interests, and the country of origin you’re looking for (yay preferred accents!).
One problem that I have with a lot of Spanish language learning resources is that they don’t offer you the option to choose Castilian Spanish, or at least differentiate; in some cases it doesn’t matter, but as Yabla is video-centric, the accent has a lot to do with my ability to comprehend it.
So I was excited to see the option to choose Spanish from Spain! Unfortunately, at my level, that only left me with one or two videos.
So I went broader and searched for intermediate Spanish videos. I thought it was pretty cool that Yabla has a list of shows available….but then I was disappointed again when those shows only included an episode or two.
Minus a point for binge-ability! Lingopie does that part better.
Regardless, click on any video that sparks your interest. You’ll then get to watch the video, complete with clickable, bilingual subtitles.
It might not be the prettiest thing in the world, but I do like Yabla’s platform. It’s pretty heavily interactive, and at any time during the video, you can:
- slow the video down
- pause, fast forward, and/or rewind
- turn the subtitles on/off
- turn the translated subtitles on/off
- click any word for a translation
Yabla also takes new vocab a step forward. Besides the vocabulary that Yabla deems “new” in that particular video (it has nothing to do with your own browsing history, but the vocab Yabla has earmarked), any word that you click to translate while watching is collected into a flashcard set (we’ll see those later).
Go through the videos as much as you want until you feel good about it/have clicked on all the words that are new to you to review later. Because then you can play games to test your comprehension, writing, and vocab!
Yabla review: games
Whether or not you’re satisfied by how much content Yabla has for you in your language and your skill level, the games that Yabla has for each video are pretty solid!
Take this exercise, for example.
In this game, you’ll listen to the original video with the captions, but you’ll have to listen for the correct word that goes in the blank, which is not too shabby for testing listening comprehension.
If you want a bit more of a challenge here, you can also opt to play this with writing-in-the-blanks, which makes a great opportunity for writing practice and making sure you actually know the word, not just able to vaguely recognize it.
Another game is even better for writing practice, though: “Scribe”!
It’s the same premise as the written fill-in-the-blank game before but…more intense. “Scribe” is a great challenge for both your listening skills and your writing skills, which is a pretty unique way of going about language learning.
Fortunately, Yabla also realizes how difficult that can be, even while listening to the video, and gives you a hand to get you going fairly painlessly.
In other words, Yabla’s writing practice is a pretty strong contender for Lang-8, especially considering Lang-8 hasn’t been open to new accounts for years now.
On top of the listening practice and the writing practice, remember how I mentioned Yabla selects certain words to be considered “new” words? If they’re new to you, go ahead and practice them. There’s a game for that!
I’m not totally sure why this is an option, though. If you’re translating new vocab yourself as you watch the videos and they’re automatically going into your flashcards for review later, this vocab list seems kind of random, and almost distracting from the personalized vocab list you’ll find in another section.
Nonetheless, Yabla has one more game in their arsenal: reading comprehension!
Finally, if you just want to review the transcript (or print it) you can do that, too. There’s no audio linked to it, but you can click any of the vocabulary words to get a translation, which is helpful.
Yabla review: flash cards
Okay, I’ve addressed Yabla’s flashcards a lot, so let’s talk about them. First of all, I obviously like how any words you translate automatically get funneled into “Word Sets” for you to review later.
As you study them, Yabla also does a couple of other things that are really helpful for getting them in your brain.
For one, you’ll get an astounding amount of context – basically all the context the word was in when you clicked it: the video, the caption, translation, and the dictionary definition.
Not only that, but I love how Yabla asks you if you were correct in your translation! As you get a word right time and time again, that yellow bar underneath the word will fill up to let you know how theoretically confident you are about it/how many more times you need to review it.
Whether or not that’s an accurate reflection of any individual word is not for me to say, but I do appreciate the touch!
Regardless, even if you don’t want to use Yabla’s flashcard system, you can easily take most of this context (meaning the text) and plug it into your own flashcards in places like Anki, Quizlet, or Memrise.
Yabla’s other tools
Besides the videos and the subtitles and the games and the flashcards and the transcripts and everything else, Yabla has a couple more miscellaneous tools to offer so you can get your money’s worth. Yabla has lots to offer, huh?
For one, there’s a whole tab on Yabla dedicated to Lessons.
Here Yabla has a variety of blog post-esque lessons for you to reference. While they are technically organized by topic, they seem kind of…random at best. Like, there are grammar lessons, yes, but you can’t totally rely on them to walk you through all of your grammar issues. You’re better off getting your grammar somewhere else.
Which you can tell, considering there’s a Grammar category, but then there’s also Verbs, Irregular Verbs, and Nouns…which are also grammar. So if you’re browsing around and find something interesting, that’s great, but I’m not sure how helpful of a tool this is.
This last thing I’m going to mention, though, is much more helpful: the Yabla Leaderboard!
I’m all about accountability and/or competition, so I love this. Yabla has leaderboards for all aspects of the platform (not just what’s pictured), so you can get motivated to stick with your studies, whichever part of Yabla you’re interested in focusing on.
Yabla does come with a free app, but it’s still pretty new and doesn’t have all the functionality you can get on desktop. As it develops, I think it’ll be a much smoother experience for watching videos and being tested on them as they play. I for one had much more fun with the app than I did on my computer.
As you can see, you don’t get as many games via mobile, but hopefully, the Yabla app will get there as time goes on. From what I understand it’s still in Beta, so only time will tell!
Yabla is fairly reasonably priced and easy to get to. Plus, you get a 15-day trial for free before having to pay! You have to connect your payment method before starting, but 15 days is a pretty solid time period for a free trial.
Yabla also works well with schools and other educational institutes! If you go into your settings, there’s the option to submit a code given to you by a teacher so they can assign/keep track of the work you do on Yabla. Educators, I’m talking to you!
We’re at the end of this Yabla review, and I like it! While there are only a few options for languages and the platform is kind of ugly, I do really like the premise of listening to native video clips and easily picking out, translating, and collecting new vocab.
That said, Yabla is excellent for language learners who want to up their listening comprehension with videos, with a smattering of games for skills like vocabulary, writing, and more.
However, the platform itself is not easy on the eyes, nor are the shows always the most reliable or bingeable. Definitely not the worst thing in the world, and nothing you can’t test out with a free trial!