Hi all. Big fan of the fluent forever method. I want the best for this app as I have a lifetime membership, so I will list below the things which I think MUST be included before public release, otherwise I don't think it will be worth the $10/month asking price. With these things in place, then I'm sure it'll be more than worth it and especially with the things to come. First impressions are everything though and I'd urge not to release too early.
I realise there will be a poll coming soon for users to vote for the features they need. But I'd like to explain my thinking for the things I'd like to see as well as a couple of features which I don't think are on the list, but which I think are pretty essential. My own additions (which I'm sure have been thought of) are listed at the bottom after a section I've called 'Why I failed twice...'
1. Introduction on how to use Fluent Forever.
We may be in a bit of a fluent forever bubble. The app seems good to use because we know the method. But will it be simple for someone who hasn't read the book or the website extensively? I don't think so, I've forgotten some great info from the book and it has been detrimental to my progress, so someone unfamiliar with the method would definitely struggle. I know this is being worked on but it definitely needs to be set up before release. I also think there should be a troubleshooting section, but more on that later.
side note: I actually think it'd be a great idea to include the fluent forever book for people who sign up, as the app will never be able to have as much detailed info. Would be a great selling point.
2. User enterable words and phrases is a must, for obvious reasons.
3. Community words and phrases would be a huge selling point and should probably be before public release also.
Now for a little bit about my struggles and what features I'd like added which are not on the list I saw recently.
Why I failed twice and how to stop future failures.
I started Fluent Forever two years ago to learn German. I lasted two-three months. But in those months I learned a lot, some of which I won't forget. I could even have a (very) basic conversation, it was exciting, I did better than I did in four years of French in school. I reached a sticking point and my learning fizzled out.
I tried to start again about 2 months ago and only lasted a few days. Part of this is because I can't add my own words (I need to go back to anki for this, but I'm lazy), but it's also because I've fallen into some of the same pitfalls.
I've re-read parts of the book and had a think and I think I have a better strategy now and will succeed on my third attempt, but some folk will inevitably have the same issues and not the perseverance.
The main thing is I find it hard to learn the smaller and less visual words. There was a few reasons for this.
a) I forgot what picture I was supposed to use for them, was it the noun or something else? I settled with that, but because I wasn't sure I was doing it right, I lost some confidence so didn't commit as hard to memorising in case I was doing it wrong.
b) I wasn't visualising enough in general with these words and tried to move on too fast, because I could learn the nouns so fast, but the awkward words require a bit more focus.
I'd get mixed up with when/why/where etc. Also, in, on, down, into, over, still, until, also, very, much, etc etc. All these little words. I could sometimes remember, but other times not. Also bigger words that are hard to visualise were a struggle too. This is my sticking point. If I spent a little longer on them, I would have probably got them. And when you try and advance forward without these basics, it gets very frustrating.
I feel like these little words need to be introduced early and one or two of them should be absolutely nailed before moving on to others. Like a grammar book, where you build foundations and only learn sentences with words you mostly know and a couple of extras.
I found Michel Thomas course did this really well, (yes, he uses translations but you end up quickly not translating at all) you should have a listen and see how he gets all these small but common words down and keeps building on them. It's quite genius, it really helped me and I will be going through it again.
It seems at the moment the small words in fluent forever are learned kind of randomly. I know category learning is not good. But there should at least be a way to build up, so that you are not learning too many of these words at once. On my last attempt I honestly tried to learn about 30 of these words in a day, which I couldn't visualise. Sometimes about 4-5 new words per sentence. But I really should have learned about 10 a day max and spent a long time thinking about things to remember them and recall them faster.
In summary. My main problems have been.
Remembering the non-visual words.
Learning too many words from one sentence and then forgetting what the words are.
If I am busy at work and can't do any cards for a couple of weeks, how do I find out what all the words are again? There is no translation? I can look up some of the words, yes, but it often doesn't help that much. I'd rather see the whole sentence translated again. Could an option for this be added?
I just end up frustrated and closing the app.
Solutions. Here are things I think need added.
4. Some kind of basic grammar lessons that build up the basics. So far it's just pronunciations and spellings. Some kind of drills, or at least simple sentences without loads of new words are necessary to learn all the little small common words. These need to be recalled super fast to help learn bigger sentences more easily. Maybe you could search for sentences with no too many new words. You mention in the book that grammar books are good. This is true. But how can we learn these types of basic grammar directly from fluent forever? The app should at least recommend the right grammar book to use, much like the website does.
5. Some kind of help button or trouble shooting list. This one is definitely necessary. So along with the tutorial at the beginning you will get extra little bits of info when relevant and reminders. I basically want my hand held at all times. If I'm stuck, currently I don't know what to do. So I give up. But there are some great tips in the book. Not everybody has the book or will find what they are looking for as fast as I managed to earlier.
The perfect example is this: I forgot for ages what type of picture I'm supposed to use for a small/non-visual word. I vaguely remembered to just use the noun of the sentence.
So a troubleshooting tip could be:
What kind of picture can I use for a word that's hard to visualise?
Answer (From page 139). "I like to use multiple [similar] images to highlight different aspects of the sentence. For my George __ a pet monkey (to have) card, I might have a picture of a monkey and a grabbing hand to emphasise the possessive nature of have".
Little nuggets like this are great. Not having this info to hand put me off the learning for ages.. I know it's silly, but I couldn't think what to do when I was stuck and forgot to check the book. So I'm glad I did now, but I really would like to see all these tips in the app.
I'd also remind users to take their time and visualise it. It's funny because with Anki I didn't spend enough time visualising because it took so long to make the flashcards I just wanted to get onto the next one.
With FF app, it's so fast I just want to get onto the next one to learn as much as I can as fast as possible. But this is also a trap. So reminders for people to slow down and visualise each word, and having some sort of order to learn the basics in as well as tips if the user is struggling to get the tricky words in their head will go a long way to getting more people past the awkward intermediate-beginner stage to fluency.
Sorry my message is so long and rambly. I'm not very good at getting to the point :P
Hope you take on board some of the criticism. You're doing a great job though. Good luck!