Learning French on your own, online?

We’ve all done it: trying to practice our target language through Youtube. It’s fun… until characters start talking:


… way too fast! Sure, it’s always possible to move the cursor back in order to replay the bits you didn’t get, but it’s not always very precise. And then you might not know what it means. So, unless you’re one super-dedicated, avid, disciplined learner, ready to sweat it out on your own, and with LOTS of time to spare, you’ll soon quit. The plain reality is that it’s just too hard! What a shame. There MUST be a way to use all this content towards language learning. Precisely what polyglot tech wiz Alan Park asked himself.

alan park 2

Thus, he came up with FluentU.

Alan contacted me about his product, offering to give away free private beta for new users. My first reaction was negative, as my blog is not meant to be a publicity platform. But then he let me use the tool on a temporary teacher account, and I was smitten. This can truly be handy for some people who are trying to perfect their French online, with no or little tutoring help (as I know many of my readers are). There aren’t many tools like these going around, so when you see one, as a teacher, you want to encourage it. So, after giving it some thought,  I opted to let you know about it and let some lucky readers try it for free. I am not getting ANY compensation whatsoever (other than my temporary teacher pass on FluentU in order to review it).

Alan has created a tool that allows you to watch and actually understand authentic, Youtube videos in a target language, while beating the “way-too-fast” obstacle.

One problem I encountered at first was that I didn’t know what it was nor what it did. Once I got it, I was swept off my feet. For having learned English, Spanish and Japanese myself , and having struggled with trying to decipher authentic material in the target language, I thought it was a fantastic idea. I will explain to you how it works.

Imagine clicking on a Youtube video in French. except this time everything is subtitled in French as it plays. And a little further down, in English too! Didn’t get that? Too fast? Just hover over the captions, everything comes to a standstill, letting you read comfortably. You don’t know the word? Hover over it and the definition – the right one, in context –  shows up automatically.


Below still, other videos using the word in question are listed.

When it’s finished, you are prompted with two choices: replay or “learn”: click that, and you will be quizzed on the vocabulary you have just seen.


The system keeps track of your progress, and continuously creates a tailor made selection of videos containing vocab and grammar you have already seen. Now that is technology at the service of the human brain


I am giving out free passes to go try out FluentU in French. I will take the first 30 emails!

To win, click on the link below (“a Rafflecopter giveaway”) and choose the “enter email” option. Contest ends March 30th, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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13 thoughts on “Learning French on your own, online?

      • I love your blog, even the clip art is wonderful! The fact that you are doing all this work for FREE is even more wonderful. For Australians like me, opportunities to keep up with contemporary conversational French that don’t involve a 20 hour flight are hard to come by.

        I’m glad you took a risk to promote FluentU. And that you have now made it crystal clear there is no financial gain to you from doing so.

        Seems there was no need for any cringing!

  1. I saw so many bloggers these days promoting Fluentu. It seems a real nice tool but I cringe too see this kind of blog post. You should disclose if you get any kind of compensation based on the FTC (federal trade commission). Check it out this two articles for more information. / . But since I like your blog, I find it a little bit disappointing for the lack of transparency in this blog post. If you just did it for free and because you like this tool. I just shut up and apologize in advance.

    • Hi Frederic,
      Thank you for your feedback, and your useful links. You are right, I should have mentioned that I get absolutely NO compensation for this blog post (I will add this info). Oui, c’est ça! is entirely done on a voluntary basis: I write these lessons and blog posts for free, during my free time. I completely fell in love with this particular tool. It fills a void right now for whomever wants to learn French online. And I am giving away free passes.
      I think it is important to promote efforts such as these, as well as letting know learners of French that they exist, because there aren’t a lot of such services in French that are well made like this one is. If these kind of products don’t get much interest, the companies will simply shut them down. That’s why I did it. I realize it creates publicity for FluentU, though. But to me, the pros outweighed the cons when I took the decision to post this entry.

  2. Hi Frederic,

    I reached out to Marie, and she kindly agreed to write this blog post for the reasons she mentioned.

    FluentU has never paid for advertising in any form, aside from some minor experiments in Google Adwords.

    I am a big fan of your blog – I am flattered that you noticed our marketing efforts. :)


  3. Oh shoot, I really wanted to participate but your post was just in the midst of our move to France and I haven’t had time (or proper Internet connection) to apply! If your nice friend Alan has any more availability on the beta version, I promise to be a diligent student. My ‘survival’ is a great motivator (Ever try to buy an Ikea kitchen in another language?? That was some new vocab!). Enjoying your blog v.much btw. X Susan

  4. I was a little disappointed because this was a good post and I saw lots of posts on FluentU but after giving them my email and trying to login it told me French was available which is strange because I’ve seen so many videos with people using it for french.

  5. Hi, this is Alan from FluentU. The site is currently “unavailable” in the sense that it is currently in private beta testing. If you submit your email, then we will send you an invite when we include more people in the beta testing. Thanks!

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