Looking to learn a new language? Looking to continue strengthening your language skills after you’ve left the classroom or the country you’ve been studying in? Have no fear, Sierra is here, with a list of technological resources for you! As a language learner myself, I have used almost all of these resources during my time learning Spanish and German. Check out these apps, podcasts, and more to help you on your quest to become bilingual. Happy learning!
Duolingo has pretty much taken over the language learning world. Many of the courses are created by native speakers, meaning you’ll get a feel for how natives would speak. Duolingo is focused on vocabulary, but also some grammar. You can join social groups, try to beat your friends with your weekly points, and play games. A fun fact from the website is that 34 hours on Duolingo is equal to one semester of a college class. Fun and free!
Memrise has one of the largest collections of languages I have seen. It’s a great tool for vocabulary and pronunciation, and it’s really fun with its use of color and games. It’s also got a social element where you can connect with other learners. My friend used this app solely because of the pronunciation factor, since that’s what he struggled with.
Babbel has free and paid elements, but with the free version you can get 40 lessons (which are 10-15 minutes in length) out of the 14 languages offered. Like the other apps, Babbel is focused on vocabulary but also has some grammar and culture tidbits. I think the coolest part of Babbel is that it creates a simulated text conversation where you have to respond to the prompts, like in real life.
My mother and uncle actually used Rosetta Stone and they both said it was a full on commitment (like language learning usually is). Rosetta stone focuses on having longer lessons, like 30 minutes worth, that are reliable and thorough. Some people, like my mother, complain that it’s really repetitive.
Like Rosette Stone, Fluenz is a software based language learning tool that has roughly 45 minute lessons and several levels. Fluenz is different though because it uses a virtual teacher through video lessons. If you want more explanation behind why the language is the way it is and culture, try this.
*these options are usually more expensive, but they do go pretty in depth.
Mango moves a little bit slower than the apps because it really focuses on hammering in those basics with “the building blocks”. It’s got the same simulated text conversation feature like other platforms, and dives deeper into the cultural and grammatical nuances of the language.
Any website associated with an app
A lot of apps, like Duolingo and Babbel, will have websites associated with them where you can continue learning. While the website might not have all the features of the app and vice versa, they can still be great resources.
I like Coffee Break because it’s more conversation based than anything else. In the beginning episodes, the Coffee Break host sits down with a native speaker, who breaks down the grammar and explains how to pronounce the words. Later on, the episodes become more about listening and comprehending a conversation between two speakers.
While not focusing on learning a specific language, this podcast invites guests on to just talk about the process of learning. The podcast says it’s for people who want to be inspired, informed and entertained on a regular basis. There are a variety of topics, like the link between language and travel, that get touched on.
Learning a language has several benefits, and these resources allow you to take advantage of them. The biggest key to success for becoming fluent is to use the language, so any time you can try to speak, read, write, or listen to the language you’re studying.
Also published on Medium.