Learning a new language is one of those things we tell ourselves we’ll do—but we never actually do it. Yes, we know it’s good for our career. Yes, we know it keeps our brain young. Yes, we know that it will let us travel to all these unique places. But it never happens.
Oh, we’ve tried all those language learning programs. But they took up too much time—who can fit in hour-long lessons? Or they were too complicated—were you supposed to review all your flashcards now, or later? How do I type that word, if my keyboard doesn’t even have the keys? You keep getting stuck, bored, or simply just don’t have the time.
But Fluent Forever wants to change that! This little app on your phone claims to rewire your brain to let you learn a language and never forget it. With just minutes a day, and ear-training, they want to help you become fluent, quickly. Let’s jump into our review of Fluent Forever to see if it is right for you!
What Is Fluent Forever?
When you think of language learning, your first thought isn’t “opera singers.” But that’s how this app got started! Gabriel Wyner had only 3 months to learn French for his singing career—but he couldn’t find a program that worked for him. So he developed his own, mastered French quickly, and wrote a little article explaining how he did it. That little article blew up, turned book, turned into a method, and now turned into this app. Fluent Forever boasts that it is one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways to learn.
Fluent Forever works off of personalized flashcards and speed repetition, which hacks your brain to naturally learn languages the way a child does. You can learn 10 different languages on the app, which is available on both Android and iOS.
How Fluent Forever Works
Fluent Forever is based on a four-step process. 1) Train your ears through pronunciation training, so you’re actually used to what the language sounds like. 2) Learn vocab through images rather than translation, which helps you to start thinking the language. 3) Learn grammar naturally through stories relevant to you. And 4) have tutoring with native speakers, a program which Fluent Forever is still developing. To help move you through these stages, Fluent Forever uses daily goals, pronunciation lessons, mnemonic aids, and progress tracking.
Fluent Forever offers a 14-day free trial when you first sign up. You can create an account through Facebook, Google, Apple, or just your email account. You’ll then be sent a confirmation notification, which you have to accept before logging into your account. You’ll have to download the app from the Apple or Google Play Store to access your account. You’ll also have to put in your payment info right away—though they will give you a reminder email 2 days before your free trial ends.
Once you create your account, you get to pick what language to learn! (While on your free trial, you have access to all of them, but once you switch to paid, you have to stick with just one.) You have 10 options to choose from—Japanese, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Korean, German, Castilian Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin. We decided to go with Mandarin—might as well see how Fluent Forever handles one of the notoriously difficult languages to master! Let Fluent Forever know your skill level in that language, and you’re ready to go.
The app is simple to use, but the app walks you through it all at the beginning anyway. Most of your learning is based off of flashcards—but ones that you create yourself. Rather than having some random picture for each word, you choose how you want to associate the word and picture. You can pick from a sample of pictures that Fluent Forever offers you, or take your own picture using your camera.
As you review your flashcards, it will review from the word to the image, the image to the word, and also simply based on the sound. Fluent Forever says the word for you as well, so you become accustomed to the pronunciation. Tap a card to see the flip side and if you were right. If you were correct, swipe right, and if you missed it, swipe left. This allows the app to review the things you still need to work on.
Once you’ve made your first set of flashcards, you’re ready to get going. In your dash, you’ll first see your Daily Streak Tasks. These are little short tasks, like a few flash cards or a short video, that helps you to keep up on your learning every day, even if you only have a few minutes. Have a little more time? Today’s Tasks are the recommended lessons for every day, while Bonus Tasks are for when you have extra time.
The Learning Tab is where you go to dive deeper—learning about methodologies, pronunciation, new words, and sentence structure. These are often taught through engaging videos, or “ear training” audio. Your Review Tab lets you quickly flip through your Flashcards, and the Explore Tab lets you learn any word that you want in either your natural or target language.
Is Fluent Forever Free?
Fluent Forever offers as 14-day free trial—but it will charge you after that. The beginning rate is $9.99 per month, though you can save more if you sign up for longer periods. (For example, each month will only cost you $8.99 if you sign up for 6 months, $7.99 if you sign up for 12 months, or $6.99 if you sign up for 2 years.)
If you’re not happy with the product, they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee
Is Fluent Forever Good?
One of the biggest draws of Fluent Forever is how simple it is. It’s very easy to use, and very easy to incorporate into your life. You can flip through a few flashcards while you’re eating breakfast!
The downside of Fluent Forever, however, is also that it is very simple. While image-based flashcards are great for simple vocabulary, it may give difficulties when you get to more complex concepts—after all, how do you take a picture of compassion?
Though Fluent Forever wants to help you think in your target language, it often uses pinyin in its flashcards—which you could turn into a crutch, still thinking in your first language, rather than in the letters and script of your target language. However, Fluent Forever’s ear training is a nice touch—the audio with every card ensures that you know how things actually sound.
One downside you may not realize—be careful of which way you swipe your flashcards! Several times we swiped a card to the left when we thought we were done with it and mastered it, because that’s the way you flip pages on a virtual book—but flipping that direction tells the app you didn’t get it right, so it will show you it again later. Make sure you pay attention to which way you are swiping, as it’s not quite intuitive.
Conclusion: Fluent Forever
Fluent Forever is an immersive language learning program for those with little time—it lets you choose how much you do each day, and how your flashcards look. It’s simple, so it’s easy to incorporate into your routine—but because it is simple, it may not do as much. It’s also a little pricy—and to get cheaper prices, you have to commit to long periods of time. But it is a good tool for growing your vocab in a language, which is one of the most important things if you want to be able to communicate!