Do you want to practice writing or speaking your target language, but are afraid of making mistakes and forming bad habits? Allow me to introduce you to this Yask review…because I love the problem Yask is solving for language learners everywhere!
This Yask review will take you through an app walkthrough, pros, cons, and set your expectations so you know if this is the language learning app for you.
Yask is a small but mighty team, and their app supports quite a few languages, including:
When you create your account, you’ll be be prompted to share your native language, the languages you’re learning (as many as you like), as well as your level in your target languages. Yask will assume that you can correct submissions in languages that you’re at an advanced level and above, but you can always change that in your settings.
Yask app walkthrough
Yask is all about the language learning community helping to correct each other’s writing and pronunciation practice, and it does that in a couple of ways. Pressing the + button in the middle will give you a ton of prompts, and even the opportunity to just say/write what you want (as long as you’ve earned 250 XP – we’ll get more into that later).
There are 4 types of exercises:
- Read out loud (after 100 XP)
- Freestyle (after 250 XP)
- Speak (after 540 XP)
We’ll talk about this more later.
I had told Yask that I was at an advanced Spanish level, but this isn’t an advanced sentence. Usually I have a much bigger problem with this (definitely not the first time I’ve come across it), but I also know language learners: before we know any better, we tend to focus on passive learning, meaning being able to recognize and/or translate words/sentences back into our native language.
While that sentence is no problem at all for me to translate into my native language (again, a passive skill), like many language learners my active skills aren’t so sharp. So the sentences I get for Write prompts? Yup, those are right on my level.
So once you answer a couple of prompts, your submission is sent out to the Yask community where your work will be checked by the Yask Bot itself as well as your fellow Yask members.
In this example, I tapped the “Write” button on the front page, which presents you with a random exercise.
If you want more of a choice, tap the third button on the bottom toolbar (the one that looks like an emoji) to pick both your subject and your exercise!
The Yask Bot responds super quickly for the purpose of instant gratification, and then native or advanced-level speakers will check you as well. Why would humans spend their time correcting mistakes that a bot already corrected?
Remember that you can only access some features/prompts when you hit a certain level of XP? That’s why.
While you’re in the app, may as well head on over to the Home tab and quickly correct others’ exercises and earn some XP!
I seriously love the way Yask did this – the submissions are super short, so it takes only a couple of seconds to correct, and you see how they’re presented like Instagram Stories? Genius. They took the strategy behind casually tapping through social media, and rewired it to help strangers with their language learning.
Mind = blown! So addictive!
When you first start out, you can only really give simple responses: yes it’s good, no it’s not, skip, and maybe a pointer to work on a word or two.
As you can see, because you’re being corrected by the community (as opposed to specific guidelines with professionals), the quality of the feedback can be inconsistent.
As you respond to more and more submissions and earn more and more XP, you can do things like leave comments on submissions with more details, answer pronunciation exercises more precisely, and more. It’s an interesting system that creates a sense of community; I find that when I correct exercises, users tend to follow me so that we can correct each other’s stuff and build XP off each other. Plus, that notification that says “so-and-so followed you!” is another great little dopamine hit.
Okay, but how did Yask make language learning so much like social media, without inviting creeps to hit on feminine-presenting language learners??
I’ve seen a system like this on Lang-8 (which is no longer a thing – the company switched gears to create HiNative); Lang-8 was a community-driven site where you could post long-form texts and have them corrected by the community. In order to post more texts, you had to correct more submissions.
However, Yask is different in a couple of ways: it’s short-form, it’s digestible, it’s fun (Lang-8 was NOT fun), and it’s dynamic! Lang-8 was just a basic website with very little inspiration/motivation to keep you going. Not Yask!
And, of course, it wouldn’t be gamification without some sort of daily notification! Here’s what that looks like.
I love that the daily notification is personalized and funnels you into exercises that you can benefit from, but I don’t like the language of “daily mistake review”.
I know a lot of language learners struggle with the concept that mistakes are positive, that they’re opportunities to learn, but I can’t help but think it’s going to bring about those feelings of shame that we’re not perfect.
Regardless, it’s so easy to get sucked in! Tap the notification and do a couple of 2-second exercises to work on that concept. You can see how quickly the Yask Bot chimes in!
You have potential corrections literally immediately. It’s not long til you have real-life humans chiming in and double-checking the bot in return for that sweet, sweet XP.
Speaking of that XP, I’ve mentioned the types of exercises you can unlock, but that barely scratches the surface! Yask knows how to make you feel motivated to use the app, and the XP rewards do that real well.
- Instant ticket refill x1: 0 XP
- 8 daily tickets: 10 XP
- Introduce yourself: 20 XP
- +1 exercise priority: 30 XP
- Answer pronunciation: 65 XP
- +2 exercise priority: 80 XP
- Instant ticket refill x2: 90 XP
- Read out loud exercises
- Weight of your votes x2: 150 XP
- 12 daily tickets: 17 XP
- +3 exercise priority: 225 XP
- Write freely: 250 XP
- Listen to pronunciation: 275 XP
- +4 exercise priority: 360 XP
- Listen to sentences: 390 XP
- Highlight changes: 500 XP
…and honestly, that’s not even all of them. There are rewards all the way up to 12,000 XP! In case the common, repeated rewards aren’t clear:
- Instant ticket refill: when you run out of tickets (i.e. do all the exercises you can), press a button to get more
- Daily tickets: tickets (exercises you can complete) you’ll automatically receive throughout the day
- Exercise priority: your submissions are shown before others’ with less priority/XP
- Weight of your votes: your votes are more important I’m assuming? I’m not totally sure
And if you ever need more information about these various rewards (there are so many, holy crap), you can always go to the Features tab and tap on the one you don’t understand.
Yask review: pricing
Yask is free for everyone, with limitations of course. While their website is just as beautiful as their app, it is not easy to find a clear-cut statement of what free users even get. It does state that it’s free forever, but it doesn’t state what exactly that means.
We’re just left to make educated guesses based on the perks of Yask Plus:
Is it worth it? Absolutely, 100%. You get a motivating, engaging, human-driven, high-quality language learning resource for $5 a month (and you get a month free if you go 3 months at a time). For the value, it’s actually underpriced!
Yask is still pretty new to the world, so I’d get with the program – you never know when the price is going to go up!
Yask review: who’s it for?
This Yask review is excellent for language learners looking for active language practice with a low barrier (i.e. it doesn’t take too much effort to play with) and a healthy dollop of gamification.
The instant gratification, colors, notifications, and usability of it all make it really fun to work with. Plus, the essentially unlimited pre-made prompts and free speak/write options are super flexible! It’s like Speechling, but more fun to use and you get corrected within minutes, not within 24 hours.
However, if getting corrected isn’t your thing, you’ll have a bad time. Knowing just enough of a language to be able to communicate is just fine, but it ain’t for Yask. Or if you’re just not at a point in your language learning where you can comfortably get your mistakes pointed out to you without a compliment sandwich.
But if you’ve already got the vocab and the grammar and you just need the guidance and the motivation to put it together, consider this Yask review your sign to try it out.