An exciting new video-based approach to language learning, but it’s far too expensive
Yabla presents a new approach to ICT-based language learning. Available for German, French, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin, the site features a range of videos and news reports, specifically chosen for content and complexity. The result is an unrivalled level of authenticity.
The key feature, however, is not in the material it offers, but its use of the material. Learners can read subtitles alongside the videos, in the target language or in translation. These can be hidden or displayed to suit the individual student’s ability, and videos can also be slowed down. A particularly neat feature is the interactive dictionary, which enables students to watch with same-language subtitles or text alongside. They can also hover the mouse over individual words to get an instant translation.
Yabla offers extension exercises for each video clip, which may be grammar-based exercises, additional listening and comprehension questions or vocabulary tasks. Many of the videos also offer language-learning games to further motivate and inspire students.
The interface is user-friendly and student-appropriate; it’s clean, fresh, easy to navigate and holds learners’ attention through its carefully timed and sequenced activities over longer periods of time. The US company behind Yabla also boasts the ability to customise features for your own institution, and the standard format is perfectly fit for purpose in UK schools. The feedback and assessment feature allows teachers to “collect” work and analyse students’ performance in a meaningful and instructive way, offering possibly the most comprehensive assessment feature currently available anywhere.
One issue is the target learners; the majority of the material is better suited to AS and A-level students, and it caters for this level exceptionally well, with lots of A-level topic-based material. Key Stage 4 learners, however, may find it too advanced. The real issue, though, is price. Subscriptions are per user and not many departmental budgets could justify the costs involved. Yabla is great, but it needs to be cheaper to make an impact in UK schools.
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