Advancing your Language Skills through Videos with the FluentU app (iPhone)

As a Spanish speaker, I felt my language skills had stagnated. I studied Spanish for all 4 years in high school and another 4 years in college where I received my B.A. in Spanish. After college, Spanish continued to be part of my everyday life since I worked in education with predominantly Latino communities. My listening and speaking skills drastically improved, but I wondered if my vocabulary was becoming better at all.

What I observed when conversing with other people in a different language is that I had the tendency to use the same words repeatedly. For example, if I was speaking with parents about their students’ academic performance in school, all I needed to use was classroom vocabulary for the entire conversation. If anything, the only words I used were usually ‘test,’ ‘homework,’ ‘grade,’ ‘behavior,’ ‘teacher,’ and the grammar concepts to put those words together coherently. Even if I spoke with my friends in Spanish, we would talk about the same things as well so my vocabulary did not improve with them either.

There were other options such as reading books in Spanish, but I preferred reading classical novels so often times many of the words would not appear in everyday language. Also, if I chose to read a book by an author such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, then I would be learning Colombian Spanish vocabulary instead of Mexican Spanish vocabulary. I couldn’t find an easy way to find and learn new vocabulary to evolve from an advanced Spanish speaker to a fluent-level Spanish speaker. That was until I found the language app FluentU.

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Although FluentU does what other language apps do such as teach you grammar and vocabulary such as Duolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone, etc., what makes FluentU stand out is its unique feature of taking videos and writing out the video dialogue in its native language and English. The initial step is to decide what language you want to learn and the current level you are at.

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Then you can browse through a list of videos and decide what vocabulary you want to learn. The videos cover a wide variety of topics such as technology, medicine, music, food, etc. Once you have decided what video you want to learn, then you can watch the video and see the dialogue in both Spanish and English.

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The best aspect of watching a video while reading the dialogue is that you are practicing your reading and listening skills simultaneously. After the video is complete, you can further your reading and writing skills by answering questions about the dialogue in the video. The app teaches you what the word means and then afterwards you can answer fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions about the vocabulary.

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FluentU is an incredible (and FREE) app for learning new vocabulary and gaining native-level knowledge of another language. If you are an advanced learner and you are trying to get to the next level, this is an incredible app to try! Right now FluentU is only on iPhone.

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Children’s Book Review of “The Bears Upstairs / Los ositos de arriba” by Jane Belk Moncure (Preschool)

Book – The Bears Upstairs / Los ositos de arriba (Not bilingual)
Author – Jane Belk Moncure
Grade level – Preschool

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Vocabulary List
-up / arriba
-down / abajo
-back / atrás
behind / detrás
-front / delante
-chairs / sillas
-little bears / ositos
-boat / bote
-to float / flotar
-to play / jugar
-today / hoy
-train / tren
-airplane / avión
-town / pueblo
-go down, descend / bajar
rails / rieles
advance / avanza
slowly / despacio

This children’s book was originally written in English but later translated to Spanish. I read the Spanish version, and I thought they did a great job of integrating the illustrations and words so that the child reading the story could understand what the word means. For example, the character says, “I am going up.” and they include an illustration of her going up the stairs.

Another great aspect of this book is how they encourage young children to be creative by showing them different objects they can make with a group of chairs. For example, the main character in the story creates a boat, train, and bus using only chairs. This encourages children to explore their own imagination and use basic objects when playing. Fun story and cute illustrations!

Overall, fun story and cute illustrations. They also have a short vocabulary list at the end of the book.

Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Este libro para niños fue originalmente escrito en Ingléspero luego traducido al español. Leí la versión en español, y pensé que hicieron un gran trabajo de integrar las ilustraciones y palabras para que el niño que lee la historia podía entender lo que significa la palabra. Por ejemplo, el personaje dice: “Me voy para arriba.” e incluyen una ilustración de su subir las escaleras.

Otro gran aspecto de este libro es cómo estimular a los niños a ser creativos, mostrándoles diferentes objetos que pueden hacer con un grupo de sillas. Por ejemplo, el personaje principal de la historia crea un barco, tren y bus utilizando sólo sillas. Esto anima a los niños a explorar su propia imaginación y utilizar objetos básicos al jugar. Historia divertida y ejemplos lindos!

En general, la historia de la diversión y las ilustraciones lindas. También tienen una lista de vocabulario corto al final del libro.

Calificación – 3.5 de 5

Photo Source – The Child’s World