Fluent Forever beta

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crush
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Fluent Forever beta

Postby crush » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:50 pm

Got an e-mail just now saying the Fluent Forever beta is now open:
https://fluent-forever.app/

I've been testing the closed beta for a while and to be honest i'm not all that impressed, it seems like a more limited version of Anki so far. I thought that's because it's just a beta version, but the e-mail i received says that it is "market-ready":
It is with great pleasure that we announce the release of our Official Beta. After months of development, refinement, and testing, we are proud to release a market-ready language-learning app that brings our revolutionary method to life.


I suppose it'd be ok if you were an absolute beginner, but they're not offering any languages that i'm an absolute beginner in and all of the word choices are way too easy. Some of the sentences are more interesting (though a lot of them still seem a bit awkward to me), but you still have to learn a word you already know to get access to those sentences.

As for the UI, it looks nice but it's not all that practical, again if you're an absolute beginner it's probably less of an issue, but having to swipe through tons of words i already know in order to skip them is boring, annoying, and time consuming. The same with the actual review section, having to swipe left or right looks pretty but i'd rather just hit a button, as it is it sometimes doesn't recognize my swipe the first time.

Currently i couldn't imagine using the app as my main source of study, i'm having trouble staying motivated enough to use it as a supplement. For mining sentences/vocabulary, i think something like the Readlang plug-in is much more interesting.

Have any of you tested it out? I'd be curious to know your thoughts and if you have any ideas on how to use the app more successfully than i have been using it.
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby FernandoTercio » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:56 pm

Well, they say it is a "revolutionary" method. That tells me all I need to know :lol:
Honestly it's amazing how many new apps are flooding this market. It would be interesting to read to the opinions of the older polyglots we have here. I'm sure we nave new and great resources and possibilities, specially a ton of free ones, but you see everywhere lets called them "less-than-good" products as well as seriously overpriced ones ala Glossika.
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crush
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby crush » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:25 am

Well this is based off of Gabriel Wyner's old method, which is essentially a sentence mining method + Anki, there are some interesting parts to it (in particular the emphasis on learning proper pronunciation in the beginning, and in the languages i've heard him speak in, his accent is quite good). His method of using a tutor for creating sentences is also interesting to me, especially as it's something you could potentially do for smaller languages with fewer resources, a sort of build-your-own-course kinda deal.

Like you, i didn't have super high hopes for the app, but some of the things promised did (and still do) sound interesting to me. The method in and of itself seems like a plausible way to pick up a language, learn vocab and grammar in context (somewhat similar to emk's Subs2SRS experiment) which you can pick up while going through native content (or language course dialogs, etc.). The current execution however just doesn't feel like it takes advantage of the best ideas of his original method and doesn't have a solid path to follow like Glossika or other courses do.

There are some parts that i like, like with Glossika i figure i'll give it a year before deciding whether it's something i want to continue supporting. I really like Glossika (despite the one-course-fits-all format), but the web app just doesn't do it for me, i don't live in a place where i'm surrounded by a constant high-quality 4g connection so i've switched back to the pdf/mp3 courses.
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crush
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby crush » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:04 am

I've been using it for a little while now off and on and i just don't understand it. They don't tell you how many words you're supposed to be reviewing in a day (i.e. how many are "due"), you just hit "review" and it randomly selects some cards, including new ones. The cards all show up together, so you see the pronunciation cards, spelling cards, minimal pair cards, etc. for a word together every single time. There's apparently no random/intentional offset added to separate cards stemming from the same base information like in Anki. I've found myself marking cards wrong just to separate them. They have Korean now, so i'm trying it with that, but so far i am enjoying how-to-study-korean.com, LingoDeer, and even Anki (was using Memrise til they announced they were separating user-created courses from the main site) much more and find them more useful. Maybe it's more modern and makes language learning feel like a dating app, but swiping is so much more of a pain to me than just hitting a yes/no button. Maybe i'll get used to it when studying with the app actually starts feeling interesting to me.
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby WildGinger10 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:16 am

crush wrote:I suppose it'd be ok if you were an absolute beginner, but they're not offering any languages that i'm an absolute beginner in and all of the word choices are way too easy. Some of the sentences are more interesting (though a lot of them still seem a bit awkward to me), but you still have to learn a word you already know to get access to those sentences.

As for the UI, it looks nice but it's not all that practical, again if you're an absolute beginner it's probably less of an issue, but having to swipe through tons of words i already know in order to skip them is boring, annoying, and time consuming. The same with the actual review section, having to swipe left or right looks pretty but i'd rather just hit a button, as it is it sometimes doesn't recognize my swipe the first time.


My guess would be that this is your main problem with it - my understanding is that it's designed for someone with no previous background in the language. I've been casually following the progress of the app on Wyner's Fluent Forever Facebook group, and my understanding is that it is essentially a pre-built Anki deck to teach you minimal pairs, pronunciation, the 625 most common words (maybe it goes further?), and basic abstract grammar via cloze deletion. It's what he discusses in his book, only he's constructed the Anki deck for you to save you the time and energy of learning how to use Anki (something that really frazzled me). There is discussion on the Facebook page about the ability in later versions to add your own images to the cards (something he believes is of great importance, according to his book) and my understanding is that eventually that will become a feature.

So if you're already experienced with Anki and don't need the extra help, and you're already experienced with the (currently) offered languages and don't need to relearn words like "I" and "you" and how to count to ten, I can understand why it might not work for you. For someone who has only used Duolingo or Babbel and found themselves incredibly frustrated at how slow their progress is (my own story), or someone who has never used a language learning app, I can imagine this would be an extremely useful app. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel are just endless grammar drills that do very little to really make a language stick (I have found) and do little-to-no work on listening, pronunciation, or speaking. My guess is that the Fluent Forever app is intended to get you to B1/B2 before encouraging you to start reading and watching/listening in the target language.

All this said, I haven't actually used the app, so take all of this with a grain of salt. But I have been following the progress of the app on Facebook and have read Wyner's book. I'm actually curious to see what the public thinks of it because I believe it will be the first language learning app to properly use SRS and emphasize listening.
Last edited by WildGinger10 on Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby Cellar Door » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:43 am

I got a multi family subscription for a year since I really enjoyed the book but I must say, I have been disappointed in the app. Perhaps it's because I am an advanced Anki user and the FF app is a stripped down, simplified Anki version. My wife really enjoys it and she is an A1 beginner in Italian so if she is the target audience, I think it is great. I always have to remember most people aren't Anki superusers.
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby Saim » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:16 pm

crush wrote:I've been testing the closed beta for a while and to be honest i'm not all that impressed, it seems like a more limited version of Anki so far.


Cellar Door wrote:I got a multi family subscription for a year since I really enjoyed the book but I must say, I have been disappointed in the app. Perhaps it's because I am an advanced Anki user and the FF app is a stripped down, simplified Anki version. My wife really enjoys it and she is an A1 beginner in Italian so if she is the target audience, I think it is great. I always have to remember most people aren't Anki superusers.


I've watched a couple of Wyner interviews where he talks about the project and as far as I can tell that's exactly what it's supposed to be; i.e. Anki for people who don't have much experience learning languages through self-study.

Honestly I myself was scared of Anki for ages because I didn't really know how to use it well, only recently have I managed to successfully incorporate it into my study routine, and it took me many months of doing it badly (but consistently) to figure out a way that works for me (only ever study recognition, always focusing on understanding example sentences ideally with audio; and for languages I can already understand fairly well, monolingual dictionary entries rather than translations). And I'm someone who studied all sorts of languages as an autodidact for years without much SRS before my current approach, so I definitely see the need for a sort of "Anki lite" that can help ease people into the process. Especially now that they've nuked Memrise. :lol:
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crush
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby crush » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:02 am

Saim wrote:I've watched a couple of Wyner interviews where he talks about the project and as far as I can tell that's exactly what it's supposed to be; i.e. Anki for people who don't have much experience learning languages through self-study.

I love Anki, it's so powerful, especially when you learn how to be creative with it and get past one word cards and into cool things like Subs2SRS (which i've used with and without audio) or cloze sentences where you're "clozing" off parts of words (case endings, prefixes, etc.) coupled with very low leech thresholds. You can build courses for languages with next to no resources and actually enjoy studying them. I figure they're going to continue changing ("fixing") the algorithm so that you're not constantly getting the same reviews one after another, but at the moment i'd prefer to just use Anki or even Memrise.

The cards are also not terribly interesting. Word cards using pictures instead of English translations. Yesterday i got a card and i couldn't remember if the word meant "sun" or "happy" or "smile" as the picture i used was a smiling sun. Whoops. I had to look it up in a dictionary.

Cellar Door wrote:I got a multi family subscription for a year since I really enjoyed the book but I must say, I have been disappointed in the app. Perhaps it's because I am an advanced Anki user and the FF app is a stripped down, simplified Anki version. My wife really enjoys it and she is an A1 beginner in Italian so if she is the target audience, I think it is great. I always have to remember most people aren't Anki superusers.

I feel kinda the same, though i'm not sure if she's finding the pronunciation trainers painful? They always come in the same order, so i get the first pronunciations first and then after all of those they ask me for the second pronunciations. I feel like the minimal pair training has a ton of potential, but currently i just dread doing them.

WildGinger10 wrote:My guess is that the Fluent Forever app is intended to get you to B1/B2 before encouraging you to start reading and watching/listening in the target language.

I'm trying it in a language that i'm a complete beginner in (Korean), though it's not my first foreign language. There is no way the current app will get you to B1, though. Eventually you'll be able to add your own sentences, but i'm not sure how they're going to integrate that, especially if you've only got the app. The current set of sentences might be close to getting you to A1? I'd like to see a graded course to take you there, but i don't think that's what they've got planned.

It's still too early to say, but their e-mails sound like they see the app as "production-ready" whereas it still feels like it's in the early alpha stages to me. I think releasing it publicly now would be a huge mistake as i can trudge through boring courses if i feel like i'm learning something (and i thought this course was intended to be able to take you to that B1/B2 stage) but if it's just intended to take some of Duolingo/Memrise's marketshare, they've got to gamify it way more. I can do boring (i love FSI courses) and even i keep stopping using the app.
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Re: Fluent Forever beta

Postby Random Review » Sat Mar 23, 2019 2:08 pm

crush wrote:The cards are also not terribly interesting. Word cards using pictures instead of English translations. Yesterday i got a card and i couldn't remember if the word meant "sun" or "happy" or "smile" as the picture i used was a smiling sun. Whoops. I had to look it up in a dictionary


I bought his wordlist and made his picture cards for Chinese on Anki. I found it quite helpful and, at that price, it was good (actually very good) value. FWIW I added a translation in the extra information field for exactly the kind of thing you mention. I don't test on it in either direction and I am not translating. I just use it to point me towards the meaning of the picture at a glance when necessary. It's still helping me now: I make my own cards for interesting words or expressions I come across in videos now (I just take a screenshot of the relevant frame of the video for the picture, sometimes I have to add a hint in English above the picture; but again that points me towards the meaning of the picture, I don't use it as a translation exercise.

I'm not sure I would find it helpful enough to be worth a monthly subscription though (and for a stripped down version with the words and pictures chosen for me and less powerful SRS I am certain I wouldn't. I really doubt I would. Still, the guy's entitled to try and make money from his passion.

I also bought his pronunciation trainer for Chinese and thought it was basically a good idea, but with not nearly enough minimal pairs to really train your ear; but for a language like Chinese that is easily remedied by making your own cards using his template. I think with other languages it may be harder to find suitable audio to do that.

Anyway, long story short, I'd encourage anyone who likes the basic approach but might be dissatisfied with the new app and who (like me) isn't an "anki superuser" to check out his word lists. I think you'll find they are very good value for money. Presumably in the future, his app will reach a standard to make it worth the money for those who can afford it. I hope he will keep his wordlists, etc available for those who can't.
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