There are so many tools out there for learning languages. Almost too many. You may be familiar with Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, or Teach Yourself, but are these paid resources necessarily better? Over the past few years, I’ve grown to appreciate all the free options I can find online, especially the ones that have input from the community. Here are some of them that I would like to recommend to anyone who has an interest in learning a foreign language on their own.
I like using this site to browse through languages that I’m interested in learning to get a feel for what they’re like. It isn’t exactly a language learning resource but rather a database or catalogue of languages. You can view an A to Z list of languages and read about their history, writing system, and read and hear a text sample about each language. As someone who chooses to learn languages based on how they appear and sound, I find it helpful to quickly browse through and compare them on this website. The site is updated regularly, and new languages are added to the database all the time.
Duolingo is a game-based website and phone app that has developed and expanded greatly over the past few years. Currently, they have 20 languages that English speakers can learn; however, there are some courses that are taught from other languages. Because Duolingo relies on volunteer contributors to create new courses, it is constantly being updated. In a nutshell, I find it very practical because you can practice your languages anywhere and anytime, but make sure you read more about why I use Duolingo. Recently, the creators of Duolingo released Tinycards, which is a mobile app using a flashcard system for Duolingo content.
Memory training is the foundation of Memrise. It doesn’t only teach languages, but the language courses are probably the most popular. Like Duolingo, it is structured like a game and is available both on a website and on mobile. The idea is that you most effectively remember things presented on flashcards if you repeat them at spaced out intervals. The courses are created by regular folk, so you can make your own course if you want. Bonus: If you like the content that Duolingo offers but not the way they structure the activities, you could try looking for courses on Memrise that teach Duolingo language courses.
If you ever want to learn random vocabulary or test how much you understand and can figure out in your target language, you should definitely give Babadum a try. The foundation of this game is linking pictures to vocabulary words presented in text or audio. There are four formats in which you can play, plus a fifth option only for Japanese. The game is available in 21 languages, and for the hyperpolyglots out there, there is also an option to play with all 21 languages together at the same time! Sometimes I play Babadum to see how many new words of a language I could figure out using my prior knowledge.
This is a great resource to have once you start practicing your writing in another language. Lang-8 allows you to post content in another language and have native speakers revise it. It is not only a fast way to get feedback on your writing skills but also a great way to double check translations from Google Translate or other web translators. I’ll have you know that I have this service to thank for some of my school assignments!
Although it’s not updated anymore, the Foreign Service Institute of the United States has some pretty good textbook and audio resources for the traditional methods of self-taught language learning. Some of the textbooks date all the way back to the ’60s, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, seeing that the explanations are simple and to the point. So if you like to learn from books, you can get some free ones here.
When it comes to my own language learning, these are the six main resources that I rely on. I’ve found them useful for both personal interest and for supplementing my Arabic and German courses at school.
Do you know any other language learning resources that we should try out? Leave them in the comments!
Featured image source: racorn