For language learners who are interested in using YouTube to learn a foreign language, CaptionPop is one free tool that you can use for videos with foreign language subtitles that are easy to study and translated into your native language. Honestly, it does its job pretty well! But it’s not the only solution out there.
So, what does CaptionPop do right, and what do other free resources do just as well, or even better? In this CaptionPop review, let’s take a deep dive into this website to see its strengths, weaknesses, and how it compares so you can make an educated decision for your language learning strategy.
Getting started with CaptionPop
When you first go to CaptionPop.com, this is what you see.
As you can see, they claim to be “the best way to experience YouTube as a language learner”. The marketing is specific (unlike a ton of language learning resources out there), but whether or not it’s true? Well, honestly, I think it depends completely on what every individual language learner needs from a YouTube supplement.
Scroll down and you see this, which, at least in my opinion, does differentiate CaptionPop from the competition (which I’ll get more into detail about later). These flashcards are my favorite CaptionPop feature!
You can check out these demo flashcards to see what you can expect, or you can jump right into creating your own from the videos you run into. This is an excellent way to find new foreign language vocab, as I talk about in this video on the fastest way to learn vocab.
We’re gonna jump right in to searching for foreign language YouTube, videos, though, since that’s the whole reason why we’re even here!
First things first, you’ll be asked your native language (although you can also plug in any intermediate/advanced level language to practice that one, as well) and the language you’re learning. These languages can be changed at any time by clicking the “more” link on the top bar of your search results.
You might have to take a second to find it, just be aware. I definitely almost missed it myself!
As per usual, I went with Spanish, but that scroll box includes what looks like every language under the sun! It seems like you can use CaptionPop to learn any language that’s currently available on YouTube, which is a lot.
Remember: YouTube is full of normal, average people creating videos and uploading them. The content itself may or may not be the most interesting, but at least it’s there!
This apparently includes different accents, too, because I was able to differentiate between Spain Spanish, Latin American Spanish, and United States Spanish which…I don’t know what that means, honestly. “United States” Spanish is usually just Latin American Spanish. So maybe it’s referring to Spanish-speaking videos uploaded from the US?
You can use the search box like you would the YouTube search box, or you can search through the featured channels. I went ahead and clicked “Detección Metálica”, and I got this page full of just this YouTuber’s videos.
CaptionPop isn’t the prettiest…it’s very very simple, like straight-up basic HTML. I’m assuming it’s like an RSS feed of YouTube videos with translated captions? It doesn’t have all the special algorithms and features of regular YouTube, literally just the bilingual captions.
This means it also doesn’t include any kind of “recommended” channels for you to find. Bummer!
It’s a very simple platform. This is what you see when you choose a video.
You’re literally just getting the video, the captions, and a couple of options. I do like how you can choose to see (or not see) the different captions, or make it easy to uncover the translations. To un-blur them, just roll over them with your mouse. Easy-peasy! And very helpful for difficult phrases.
In the top right-hand corner, you can also see some easy hotkeys:
- Space: play/pause
- T: show translation
- R: repeat
- Up: previous line
- Down: next line
This is another simple, handy tool, but I do wish you had the option to change/personalize them. I’d like it if I could hit all the hotkeys with one hand, but alas! That one really isn’t the biggest deal.
When one caption or video sticks out to you, you can also easily add them to your “favorites”, mostly to make it easy for you to go back to the stuff you know you like, or is a bit difficult for you.
My favorite part of CaptionPop is their flashcards. They’re not perfect, don’t get me wrong, but this part is what puts CaptionPop ahead of the competition (which I’ll explain in another section).
Going into the flashcard section of CaptionPop, you have a few options.
From here you have a few options, or “sections” of flashcards. They all do the same thing, but as you can see from the tip at the bottom, you can organize all your decks into whichever sections or categories you like.
Organize your flashcards by genre, YouTuber, difficulty, subject, language…whatever you like! The sky’s the limit. Make different flashcard decks into whichever categories will be the most helpful for you.
I downloaded the demo deck, which is a very simple one that just gives you an idea of what CaptionPop’s flashcards are all about.
First, you get the video clip to repeat the phrase back to you. You can replay it as many times as you need. Then, this is how CaptionPop reviews the phrases for you.
I really love this as a way to learn phrases from context, though I do have a couple of complaints.
One: if you don’t already have an international keyboard on your computer, CaptionPop doesn’t provide you with any accents or anything like that.
So that upside-down exclamation point? If you can’t make that symbol with your own keyboard, you’ll have to Google, copy, and paste. Which limits how easy this system is to use. Because if you don’t get it right, it’ll call you out on it (which I definitely appreciate!).
Two: not only can you not easily add these phrases to your Anki deck or other flashcard app if you already have a flashcard strategy that you like, but CaptionPop doesn’t have any sort of mobile app.
So, if you find yourself depending heavily on CaptionPop’s flashcard tools, you’ll have to be at a computer regularly. There’s no easy way to transfer any of this to a mobile app of any kind, or combine them with any flashcards you find with other language learning resources.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty excellent way of finding new phrases and learning to both listen and write them out correctly. Not bad!
Using YouTube’s captions to learn a language is really effective because it makes the whole process genuinely entertaining, and we all like when learning a language is actually fun! Using fun methods is one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated to learn a language.
I do like CaptionPop, but there are some things that Language Learning With YouTube (or LLY) does better!
I have an entire YouTube video walking through LLY and its sister extension, Language Learning with Netflix, but I specifically want to highlight with LLY does differently and/or better.
The biggest strength that LLY has against CaptionPop is that LLY is a Chrome extension that keeps you on YouTube, as opposed to a whole entire other website.
Why is this better?
Comments. Recommended videos. Related YouTubers. Binge-ability.
These are all features that language learners can also use to find new vocab and work on their language skills! There’s no better way to get yourself onto the part of YouTube where international YouTubers exist, and accidentally find your new favorite creators.
However, LLY does NOT have any sort of native flashcards, nor does it automatically add new vocab to any sort of spreadsheet or flashcard deck. You can definitely find new words, but again, you have to add them to your flashcard sets manually. So it’s all about what’s important to you.
Should you use CaptionPop?
At the end of the day, I do think CaptionPop is a great resource for language learners looking for translated captions on YouTube videos, and an interesting way to find new YouTube creators that speak the language you’re learning!
I don’t like that it’s on an entirely other website, which means you don’t get the other elements of the YouTube platform that could be helpful for language learners (i.e. comments and suggested videos).
I do like the flashcard section, and how CaptionPop helps you learn sentences and phrases by typing them out. That’s a pretty solid way of getting them into your long term memory.
My recommendation? If you’re looking for a way to watching foreign language YouTube videos and easily translate them, give CaptionPop a shot! It’s totally free, so you have nothing to lose!
Remember to keep Language Learning with YouTube in mind, as well. It’s also free, and does the same exact thing, just a bit differently!