My Favorite Resources for Language-Learning

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Forvo

This is a great resource if you are looking to better your pronunciation in a language. While it is not specifically a language-learning website, you can still get a lot out of it. Native speakers of various languages upload a sound clip of how they pronounce a given word. You type a word in the language you are learning in the search bar and it will give you results of different sound clips from native speakers who have pronounced it. With each sound clip, you are told if the speaker is male or female and where they are from. This is great not only because there are many language options but also because you can hear how people from different countries pronounce the same word. This is a quick and effective way of knowing how to pronounce a word without having to ask someone else.

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Conjuguemos

I really like this website for verb conjugation practice. I have used it when I had to teach myself French conjugation for a placement test in a short period of time, as well as for studying Portuguese verbs. Six languages are offered on this website for practicing conjugation but some of the languages also have vocabulary and grammar options. You are able to see verb charts where the conjugations are shown, as well as the English translation of the verb at the top of each chart. You are able to be very specific about what you want to study. Say you want to study -er verbs in the present tense in French; you can do that. Want to review a mix of -er, -ir, -re verbs in the present tense? You can do that too. You are also able to review subjunctive verbs, commands, pretty much any tense or mood out there. You can choose whether your practice is timed or not and for how long you want to be timed.

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Extr@

Extr@ is one of those cheesy educational shows, but do not disregard it! While I usually stay away from these kinds of things, I really like this series because it was specifically designed for people learning a foreign language. This language-learning drama is available in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and German. They use the target language the whole time and speak slower than actors in a regular TV show would speak. This is a great resource if you are a beginner/lower intermediate learner. I have watched it in Spanish and French and highly recommend it. I wish more languages were available. You can find this series on YouTube.

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HelloTalk

The best way to learn a language (if you are looking to speak it fluently) is by speaking it. HelloTalk is social media for language-learners. You make an account and put what language(s) you speak/are studying, and then you find a partner to chat with! I’ve used this app like any other texting app to message back and forth with native speakers of my target language in real time. There are other nice features such as being able to provide translations of the messages and correct your partner’s messages. Another nice feature is that you can control who can find you when they search for someone to speak with. If you feel more comfortable chatting with people of the same gender, you can switch that setting on. There is also an age setting where you can set an age limit of people who can see your profile. I have found some good friends on this app that I ended up speaking with on Skype later on.

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Italki

Probably my favorite resource when it comes to applying what I have learned in my target language. There are so many things I can say about this website, but I will keep this short. Like HelloTalk, it is a type of social media for language-learners where you create a profile and find language partners. You can talk back and forth through messaging but many people you talk to will want to improve their spoken English, so they will most likely ask you if you want to Skype. I have found great language partners, and even more importantly, great friends because of this website. The great thing about this website is that you can write notebook entries that native speakers will correct for you. This is great for getting written practice. You can also ask questions that native speakers and/or other learners of the language will answer for you. This is a website you can use to get lessons online through Skype. I have never tried any of the lessons out because I would rather speak to a language partner for free, but I have heard great things from other polyglots about italki and its teachers. Lessons are not free but they are way more manageable than Rosetta Stone and some of its competitors.

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Duolingo

If you are someone who is very busy, but looking to learn a language for fun then this is the app for you! It does not take a lot of time out of your day and it is free! Language options range from Spanish and French to Russian and Irish Gaelic. I would recommend it for those who do not like to focus solely on grammar. This does not explicitly explain the grammar of the language and kind of throws you into learning vocabulary and phrases, like Rosetta Stone but free. You can learn without feeling like it is a chore. A word of caution: Some of the sentences are very weird and would not be ones that you would apply to your daily life. My opinion: It is a great supplement to what you use to study the language you are learning. I would not solely use Duolingo to use a language.

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Memrise

I mentioned this app in another blog post that I recently wrote. I would recommend checking out that post, as I explain what memrise is and what I have used it for. What I will say is, I absolutely love it as another supplement, like Duolingo. It also does not take up a lot of time in your day but can be addicting.

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