Languages: Spanish – Latin America, Spanish – Spain, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese
Format: PC/laptop software with combined audios in mp3 format or CDs, online access, mobile app, flashcard program.
Price: First level: $177
All 5 levels: $358
In many aspects, Fluenz is better than Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, Rocket Languages and Transparent.
II. Teaching Method
Fluenz’s founders think that language learners learn best when they work with a good tutor.
Fluenz software simulates a one-on-one tutoring environment. When building courses, Fluenz frequently refers to the point of view of English speaking learners. It figures out places where English speakers struggle and then gives good guidance to help learners overcome these obstacles.
On relevant content:
Unlike Rosetta Stone, its biggest competitor, Fluenz teaches only words/phrases which are useful in daily conversations. There will be no sentences like, “The elephant is jumping”. You don’t need to learn words that are rarely used in real life conversations.
III. What Do You Get?
There are 2 levels in Portuguese and 3 levels in Mandarin Chinese, all other languages have 5 levels.
Each level is divided into 30 sections.
At each section, you will first listen a dialogue (English translation available). Then a tutor will explain the language used in that dialogue, including word usage, grammar, etc. You will do exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned such as translating, transcribing, voice recording, etc. (these kinds of exercises are not so different from exercises in other language learning software programs).
Each section will take you from 1 to 2 hours to finish.
The language content taught in Fluenz
At all levels, Fluenz’s teaching focuses on language used in daily situations.
For example, Italian level 1 helps you to deal with these situations:
- Going out to eat and for entertainment
- Shopping and monetary transactions
- Navigating airports and train stations
- Taking buses and communicating with taxi drivers
- Making hotel reservations and other travel arrangements
Step by step, Fluenz introduces the language used in more complex situation. For example, when you go to level 5 in Italian you will be taught about:
- Discussing and using the Internet and social media
- Advanced conversations about food and diet
- Discussing the arts and artwork
- Talking about studies and profession
- Making deposits and wire transfers
- Complex trip and meeting planning
- Writing letters and emails
- Sharing menus and recipes
- Visiting the doctor and physical terms
- Filling out forms
- Airport announcements and vocabulary
(For more details about the content in each level, visit the “what you learn” section in the official website)
Working hard and finishing 5 levels will give you the confidence to speak in various situations.
As you can see, there are also several sections dedicated to learning to write.
One the other hand, Fluenz doesn’t teach much vocabulary. For instance, level 1 of Chinese teaches about 300 words.
IV. The Good
- Intuitive teaching and well-structured lessons will help learners feel comfortable when beginning a language.
- Useful language: common phrases are taught.
- Well-designed interactive software, convenient mobile app.
A few years ago, users reported that there are many bugs in the software such as wrong translations or malfunctioned buttons. Today, fortunately, Fluenz has fixed most of the bugs. The program runs smoothly now.
Fluenz’s app and audios are also convenient for people to learn anytime, anywhere. The program’s performance on mobile devices is nearly the same with its performance on PCs.
- A company that you can trust
- Fluenz does not use big words in their marketing campaign. They don’t promise that you can be fluent after finishing the program or that language learning is easy.
- Good customer service. Customer feedback is often replied to shortly whether it is by email, forum post, or Facebook comment.
V. The Bad – The Limitations
- The dialogues taught in Fluenz are relatively short. The number of words taught is limited.
- In first levels of some languages, your tutor is Sonia Gil and her pronunciation is not as good as native speakers. For example, she has an American accent when she speaks French.
- Fluenz teaches just a decent amount of grammar. If you want to learn more grammar, which can be good if you like it, complement Fluenz with grammar books.
- Fluenz’s speaking teaching is not as effective as audio-only courses like Pimsleur or Michel Thomas.
- Fluenz Mandarin does not teach you how to write Chinese characters.
- Fluenz Mandarin does not teach you how to write Chinese characters.
VI. Conclusion of This Fluenz Review
Overall, Fluenz is a good program. Consider buying it if you are a beginner and you want to have a nice and comfortable introduction into the language.
However, if you don’t want to spend much time on the computer or you want a faster way to speak, you may benefit from Pimsleur, or Michel Thomas. Assimil is also a good choice if you like the observation path in language learning.
VII. Additional Information
|Level||Fluenz.com price, (Free shipping) (In USD)||Amazon price (Free shipping) (In USD)|
|1 + 2||278||282|
|1 + 2 + 3||298||313|
|3 + 4 + 5||310||313|
|1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5||358||348|
If you are a serious learner, take time to do your research. Then if Fluenz fits your need, buy all 5 levels at once and you can save a lot. Below are some ways to know more about Fluenz
- try two full sections as a demo, or
- try Day One courses for free. It is a 20 minute video, which teaches language for you to survive the first day in a foreign country, or
- try it out at your local library (if available), or
- join Fluenz’s forum to search for user’s opinions about the program.
There is a 30 day refund policy.
Fluenz vs. school
A three credits college course (one semester) would cost about $500 to $600, compared to the cost of buying all 5 levels at once on Amazon ($348). I am sure that you can learn more from 5 levels of Fluenz than from any one-semester college course.
2. No games
Unlike some other self-study language software, there are no games in Fluenz. When you want to play games with the language, there are other free websites that provide them.
3. The story behind Fluenz
Fluenz’s founder is Sonia Gil, a young Cornell College graduate. She loves traveling and language learning. In 2012, Sonia won the People’s Voice Webby Award for Best Web Personality. Her Youtube channel has nearly 60,000 subscribers. In some of Fluenz’s courses, Sonia herself will be your tutor for some first levels.
1. Supplement your study with well chosen listening and reading material at LingQ.com for free. They also provide tools to help you acquire vocabulary effectively while you read. To use these functions, you will pay $10/month.
2. Lang-8.com and italki.com are places where you can get your writing corrected for free by native speakers, in reverse you can help foreigners to learn your native language. Italki.com also offers quality tutoring services (with a fee).