(By John Rampton)
Learning a new language is no easy task. Thankfully, there are an endless number of resources and technologies to help you quickly and effectively learn a different language. And while that’s really awesome, it also presents a new challenge. Which platform works best for you?
After all, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to acquiring an unfamiliar language. To help with that experience, here are seven places where you can not only learn an entirely new language, but also do so for free.
When originally released, Duolingo was an invite-only service. Thankfully, it’s now available free to anyone. Unlike other language learning platforms that rely on memorization, Duolingo has a unique approach that basically makes you translate websites. This is accomplished through a gamification process that includes speaking, listening, translation, and multiple-choice challenges. With its Streak Count feature, Duolingo keeps you motivated by keeping track of how many days in a row you spend learning a new language.
Some of the languages that Duolingo currently offers are Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Turkish, and it is available on the web, Android, and iOS.
Even though this page is no longer updated, it remains an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn a new language. There are articles that explain the importance of learning a different language, which language to learn, and facts regarding the languages of the world. It also contains a variety of courses, audio/video files, phrases, games, and even slang terms to help you learn, and it provides a list of online newspapers, TV, and radio outlets in the native language.
BBC Languages has 40 different languages that include French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Greek.
Memrise claims that it can help you learn a language better by using mnemonic flashcards. These “mems” use your pre-existing knowledge to help you learn in a more fun and easier way. Memrise also gamifies the learning process by allowing you to compete against your friends and to earn rewards for your efforts. What’s most appealing, however, is that Memrise is adaptive, so you can learn a new language in the style the best suits you.
Memrise has courses in over 200 languages and is free to use on the web, Android, and iOS.
Since launching in 2007, Livemocha has been acquired by Rosetta Stone and uses tutorial videos and online classes to help people learn a new language. What makes Livemocha interesting is that you have the opportunity to interact with and be graded by native speakers through the site’s community — which also includes teachers and experts. In a way, Livemocha is similar to a social network that allows you to learn a language and its culture by interacting with a global community made up of 190 different countries.
Livemocha is free, but you may have to eventually start paying — around $100 annually — if you want to perfect any of the 35 languages available. But, it’s still a great place to start.
Busuu provides award-winning content from experts and educators that help students learn a new language through writing exercises and audio recordings. What’s most effective, though, is that you can engage with an international community where you can practice the language with a native speaker in real-time. So far, over 50 million have learned English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Arabic.
You can use Busuu on the web or while on the go with an Android or iOS device.
Lingualia is pretty much a social network that connects you with people from all over the world to help you learn and practice a new language. However, it also has a feature called Lingu. Lingu is basically your personal language teacher who monitors your progress, motivates you, and customizes lessons to fit your learning style whenever you have free time. The learning content uses flashcards, dialogues, audio files, and exercises.
If there’s one issue with Lingualia, it’s that there are only English and Spanish courses. But, the courses are free and are available on the web, Android, and iOS.
Byki claims that its software and mobile apps are “the fastest possible way to lock foreign words and phrases in your long-term memory.” This is because Byki relies on flashcards that help you store words and phrases in your memory, as opposed to simply teaching grammar. Byki’s software allows you to slow down the speed of the native speaker, tracks your progress, and refreshes your memory automatically.
Byki offers courses in 74 different languages and is free with the Express software. It’s perfect to start, but you may want to upgrade to the Deluxe package down the road.
With so many free ways to learn, you are out of excuses! Test out a few platforms, and get to learning.
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