Fluent Forever app review
The Fluent Forever app prides itself on teaching you “to THINK in any language”. And, honestly, I truly love the theory and definitely think language learners can benefit from it!
But in execution? I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but I don’t think any language learner should be using the Fluent Forever app. Seriously, I don’t say that lightly. I love their idea, but let’s talk about why their execution couldn’t get much worse.
The Fluent Forever app from the start
Besides the theory, the other thing I really like about the Fluent Forever app is the app itself. It’s really well-made, pleasing to look at, super smooth, etc. The initial run-through of the app shows you everything you need to know.
Therefore, this review is going to take you through the same process the app goes through. What I mean by that, specifically, is I don’t usually talk about prices until the end of a review, right? Here, that’s the first thing I’ll mention. ‘Cause it just looks so nice!
Whatever I’m about to say about this app, it’s very reasonably priced! You can choose to pay monthly or annually – monthly is just ten bucks a month, and annually is a fraction of that.
On top of that, you also get a 14-day free trial, which is also incredibly reasonable!
Do you see that first check mark? “Access to all our languages for 14 days”? I can see what the idea is, but it seems kind of backwards to me. Basically, once you give them your money, you’re also getting…less?
I really love when language learning resources give you access to all their languages with one monthly subscription, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen access to all languages EXCEPT if you’re paying for it. Weird.
Nonetheless, the Fluent Forever app does have a solid collection of foreign languages to choose from:
- Brazilian Portuguese
- Latin American Spanish
- Castilian Spanish
Bonus points for two different Spanish accents! Let’s start out with Castilian Spanish (my go-to).
Fluent Forever for advanced learners
You’ll start out with two qualifying questions:
Of course, I started out with Advanced and Great to see how the Fluent Forever app is for intermediate and/or advanced learners. The first thing you do once you’ve qualified yourself is make your first flashcard.
At first glance, this is a super solid word to start with! Pulgar is not really a word you’ll find in textbooks a lot.
I recognized pulgar passively, but if you had asked me to translate “thumb” before this flashcard, I wouldn’t have been able to!
So from here, I was genuinely enjoying this app!
You’re offered a selection of popular images to trigger the word in your brain, or you can also opt to take your own picture with your phone.
Once you make your first flashcard, you learn how to use the app.
You tap the photo to check your answer, then swipe right if you’re right, left if you’re wrong. From here, it’s like the Tinder of language learning!
At this point, I was 100% loving this app. The first word that was shown to me was definitely at my (vaguely advanced) level, and I can see how the app would be really fun to use.
So far, so good. Whenever an app mentions a Spaced Repetition Algorithm (I still maintain nobody does it quite like Anki!) I take it with a big ol’ grain of salt, but I was willing to look over that at this point.
Then you’ll get a short tutorial of the app’s basic “tasks”.
At this point, I’m still diggin’ this app. With a Daily Streak Task, that suggests some solid daily accountability. That daily accountability is a huge part of language learning; it’s one of my favorite things about Mondly!
And, to be fair, the app follows through:
I mean…they’re not wrong there!
This is where the Fluent Forever app gets…iffy (but I was still pretty optimistic at this point!).
At the top of this app, I got some stats, which I assume they assume from those first qualifying questions.
While these stats happen to likely be fairly accurate (“happen to”, “likely”, and “fairly” being the operative words here), they feel really precise considering those qualifying questions were pretty general.
And, as we’re about to see, the fact that I’m questioning these stats are not totally unfounded.
I went in to learn some new words, and here’s what happened.
First of all, if you already know that I’m at least an intermediate learner, why are you showing me these beginner words?? If this app assumes I’m at B2, why is it showing me A1 words?? What a turn off.
I got a little bit of optimism back thinking that I could easily swipe these words away (I dunno, maybe swiping them shifts an algorithm or something?), but no.
Sure, you can swipe them, but then it’ll give you this option, and then it’ll take a second to reload. Which takes forever, especially considering that, again, it’s already assumed I’m at a B2 level.
Okay, okay, so maybe it’s just not good for intermediate/advanced language learners? Beginner apps are perfectly valid, and these qualifying questions could simply be misleading.
Fluent Forever for beginners
Thanks to the free trial allowing me to switch languages as I please, I switched to German. At this point, I have absolutely zero knowledge of the German language, so maybe the Fluent Forever app will be better at teaching a language from the ground up!
Now I’m going to show you the first words I was given as a total beginner in the German language, and I’m also going to point out the three very big things that are wrong with them (in case they’re not glaringly obvious to you).
Let’s start with the first word: Nagel (nail/fingernail).
This is the very first word I was presented with. As an absolutely beginner with zero knowledge of the German language. Nail/fingernail? Really?? No “hello”? No “boy” or “girl”? Seriously?? Who designed this?
What’s worse is that the word itself isn’t even the worst part of that first word. See that second image, that’s basically a half-blue square? That’s not the original picture. The original picture is a bloody, torn-off fingernail. It’s gross and I didn’t want that nasty picture on my post, so I covered it.
You can still see the picture of the blister/wart/whatever that other one’s supposed to be, though! You know, in case you need to be traumatized in order to learn your words. (I’m being sarcastic, in case that doesn’t translate via text.)
Okay, so the second word: Angel (fishing rod).
Again, who decided that that was an appropriate word for absolute beginner speakers? Fishing rod?! I barely know that word in my native language!
And again, we have the pictures. So..wait…does that word mean “fishing rod” or “angel”? Now I’m confused, because the images that are populating are of two completely different subjects. Confusion is not kosher here.
But wait, the confusion doesn’t stop there!
First image: what the hell is an awl, and why does that apply to beginner language learners?! I’m pretty sure this is the least helpful language learning resource I’ve come across for beginners thus far.
Now that second image. This is a little different, so let’s talk about it.
One of Fluent Forever’s missions is to help language learners “learn how to pronounce like a native”. Basically what this second image is doing is comparing the simple sounds of German words to English words. Which, again, is an excellent idea in theory!
I just have one question here: where the hell is Bonn City? Am I supposed to be familiar with this city? Because I’m not, and it’s adding so much confusion to this.
(By the way, a quick Google search tells me Bonn City is located in Germany. Which means they’re using the pronunciation of an [unknown to me] German city to teach me to pronounce a German word. Yikes.)
I gave the Fluent Forever app one more shot: I went into the flashcards to learn some vocab. I mean, that worked with Spanish! Those were definitely some beginner words!
All you had to do was give me some simple beginner vocab!
Earth? Sky? I don’t care!
Where’s that functional German vocabulary?!
Man, I really wanted to find some good in the effectiveness of this app. The mission is great, the app itself is nice, the consistency is on point…but none of the actual material is helpful to anybody, no matter the level.
There are a lot of language learning resources that I personally dislike, but also recognize how they’d be beneficial to a different kind of language learner. And I’ve said that with resources like Mango Languages.
The Fluent Forever app, though? Just…don’t use it. It was 0% helpful for anything I tried to use it for. I’m so surprised and disappointed by how useless it is. I suggest you try something else to help you learn a language.