Finding the right language resource is part of the 5 Steps to Learning a Language. This post will help you do that. The following three free resources have proven track records to successful language learning.
I know I’ve mentioned Duolingo several times throughout this blog, but it’s for good reason: the free resource is a comprehensive language learning tool, where learners can build up their vocab, learn simple sentence structures, and practice their speaking, listening, writing, and reading, all via short lessons on their computer or mobile device (there are apps available for android, Windows, and iOs).
The site makes learning a language fun through addictive gamification. By this, I mean they turn the process into a race against the clock, where you can earn points and “level up” by answering accurately. You can also see your progress immediately, as you’re graded in-lesson. According to your personal challenges, the lessons will instruct you on how to improve and up your game.
For those who don’t want to spend hours with a workbook, Duolingo is the perfect way to get a bite-sized lesson in each and every day. The site keeps language learners motivated by tracking their “streak” – that is, how many days in a row you’ve practiced. You’ll be surprised how self-competitive you might become.
Currently, the site offers lessons in the following 23 languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Swahili, Polish, Romanian, Greek, Esperanto, Turkish, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Welsh.
With the byline “learning, made joyful,” you can’t go wrong with this language resource. Visual learners will get a kick out of Memrise which uses mnemonic flashcards, called “mems,” to learn new vocab through existing language knowledge.
For instance, in a beginning French lesson, you might come across a “Quoi de neuf?” (“What’s up?”) meme of a pissed off French cat with the expression, “What’s up?…I’ve had QUITE ENOUGH of you.” With these fun and clever visual tactics, you’ll have common words and phrases memorized before you know it!
According to the site, “Memrise uses clever science to adapt to your personal learning style and performance. So you learn fast and never forget!” Memrise is particularly helpful if your goal is to expand your vocabulary in any language.
Busuu is an award-winning site, winner of the TechCrunch Europe Award and the BETT Innovator Award. EdTech Europe also deemed it the “Best Education Startup in Europe.” Although not all the language learning resources are free, you can build up your vocabulary for free with the site’s flashcards.
The premium package, which starts at around $5.50, offers everything you need to become fluent in a foreign language, with grammar units, vocabulary trainers, and conversations with native speakers. Busuu allows users to download lessons to practice anywhere, so you don’t have to be online to log in your language learning hours. The site also awards learners with official McGraw-Hill certificates, so you’ll have proof of your language skills when you’re, say, applying for a job.
With lessons in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic, you’re likely to find the language of your choice here.
If you don’t mind shelling out some cash for your language learning, check out this comprehensive list of language resources on lingualift. The list offers both free and $$$ resources. Next week, we’ll provide sources for online language tutors.