What is Fluent Forever?
Fluent Forever is a language learning software for beginners based around two modules. The first is sound training module, and the second is a flash card module. The software has the following features
- A pre-built list of 625 words
- Novel use of pictures instead of translations in the flash card module
- A variety of flash card types including sentences, fill in the blank, verb stems
- All sentences and words are voiced by a real person
- Pronunciation guide module
- Sound training module
- Subscription based payment. Monthly cost of $10
Bottom line verdict
Fluent Forever is worth subscribing for a couple of months, for the sound training module. I consider this to be an industry benchmark and the creator deserves praise for what is achieved here.
On the other hand, the flash card module currently has far too many faults and drawbacks to be worth your money, and more importantly, your time.
Highly recommend the 14 day free trial.
Explaining my bottom line verdict
Sound training module:
The sound training module includes an alphabet component, basic phonology, sounds component, and a hearing test component. Each component is important for beginners who need to learn how the writing system works, and how the language sounds. It builds a very solid foundation for good pronunciation habits and develops an ear sense for what sounds correct and what sounds incorrect.
One particular part of the sound training module I found valuable is the introduction of aspirated sounds. While it may be intuitive to notice the sound difference between 가 and 카, understanding the theory underneath will reinforce your understanding.
I also quite liked the hearing tests which plays two similar sounds, and asks you to choose the correct response. For example a sound is played that corresponds to either 비 or 피. Or in another example it may be 비 or bee. Whilst I knew the Korean sounds already, I found the French syllabus counterpart of this to be very helpful in learning the nasal vowels. Having all of this information delivered methodically was a much better experience for me than jumping from video to video on YouTube.
In my opinion, building a strong hearing and pronunciation foundation is so important, and appears to be either under appreciated or under learned by many people. When I studied in a private Korean language school in Seoul I noticed many learners more advanced than me had really bad pronunciation. To me it was more than just their accent, it was difficult to hear and understand what they were saying. Learning a language will take years, but developing a good ear and solid pronunciation can be achieved in months. It would be crazy not to invest in this area.
Flash card module:
On to the flash card. Module. Unfortunately the positives here are truly buried under several faults and drawbacks. I can barely begin to bring myself to talk about the positives because the negatives are so overwhelming. I will start with the list of negatives and end with the list of positives.
- Irrelevant words for beginners. The words they choose to include do not make sense. Some of the first 50 words introduced to me were lunar eclipse, nursing, ostrich, dragonfly, silver, cliff. I hate to say it but learning these words is a total waste of time and the psychological/emotional setback of forgetting words over and over again is not to be under estimated.
- Words do not resonate. Words chosen by some else for me doesn’t resonate with me. I don’t feel it in my heart. I can’t internalise words I dont use or feel. I may be practising words or want to learn words that aren’t even on the list. What am I suppose to do then? It takes 30 seconds to create your own card on anki. The time lost studying words you don’t care about, forgetting them, and getting frustrated costs much more than 30 seconds.
- Pictures often don’t work. Pictures over translation is a key selling point of this program, but unfortunately this method fails often and has consequences when it does fail. Complicated words outside of nouns such as adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and particles just don’t work very well. How do you find a picture for warm? What about healthy? Too often i see a card come up only to think “what is this picture of a flexed arm suppose to remind me of?” is this word here arm, muscle, or an adjective? Can you imagine trying to find cards to differentiate 좋다 and 좋아하다?
- Recorded sentences. The speech speed is so fast it’s really hard to hear the sounds properly as a learner.
- Inflexible. Once you create a card you can’t ever delete it from your card list, even if you feel like you have fully learned the word and will never forget it. You’ll be stuck revising this card time and time again when you don’t need to. Vocabulary acquisition is all about efficiency, and this drawback is very time costly and infuriating.
- Trapped in Fluent Forever. Once you’ve created all the words in Fluent Forever, you can’t export them to any other flash card program. You’ll either abandon your cards in Fluent Forever, or be forced to pay monthly subscription fees as your pool of review cards dwindle begin to dwindle.
- Easy to create cards for people who are time poor or are new to flash cards and may be intimidated by Anki
- Nice feature which let’s you learn multiple words from one sentence
- All sentences and words are voiced (see negatives as well)
- Subscription fee is quite reasonable at $10USD
- The app itself is sleekly designed and has potential for future improvement