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Author name: Brian

I’m a former EFL teacher turned freelance writer and self-proclaimed language enthusiast. I can’t quite seem to kick the habit of moving countries and have lived and worked on five continents so far.

The best podcasts for learning english

14 Best Podcasts for Learning English

English is arguably the most useful language one can learn. It’s become a lingua franca in many international fields and is extremely useful for tourism just about everywhere. English proficiency is a skill that opens doors, whether it’s access to a study abroad opportunity, better business prospects, or simply the ability to connect with more people around the world.

14 Best Podcasts for Learning English Read More »

Best Apps Hindi

Best App to Learn Hindi — Tried Out Dozens

Hindi is the third most spoken language in the world, right after English and Mandarin Chinese. And in a country with hundreds of languages spoken, Hindi also stands out as the one with the most native speakers. If you would like to communicate with this massive portion of the world’s population or desire to deepen your relationship with India, its people, and its culture, then learning Hindi is a great undertaking.

Best App to Learn Hindi — Tried Out Dozens Read More »

An Honest Review of Duolingo With Image of Man on Tablet

Duolingo Review: Useful But Not Sufficient – 2 Language Learners Test It (With Video)

Duolingo

Rating 4.0

Summary

Duolingo is a super popular free language-learning app. It’s available for desktop as well as mobile and offers over 90 different language courses in over 20 different languages — there are currently 35 languages with English instruction. The Duolingo approach is gamified and easy to use, but the bite-sized lessons don’t offer much in the way of in-depth practice. The Duolingo tag line is “Learn a language in just five minutes a day.”


Quality 4.0

It’s easy and fun to use, but some pronunciation and grammar instruction is of low quality, especially for Asian languages.

Thoroughness 3.5

The app works well for learning the basics, but there’s little speaking practice and grammar instruction is limited.

Value 4.5

It’s a lot of content for free, but you’ll need to use supplementary resources.

I Like
  • The short lessons are ideal for quick, convenient practice
  • The game-like features make the exercises engaging and fun
  • The community aspect is motivating
I Don’t Like
  • There’s no opportunity to create your own sentences
  • Grammar instruction isn’t part of the lessons
  • Text-to-speech audio is sometimes low quality
Price

Duolingo is totally free. Duolingo Plus offers a few additional features and is available for:


$12.99/month (paid monthly) $6.99/month (12-month subscription)


Their family plan is $119.99 a year

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning programs out there. It’s been on the scene since 2012 and offers instruction in 35 different languages. It even offers courses in three constructed languages (perfect for brushing up on your Esperanto or High Valyrian).

Duolingo Review: Useful But Not Sufficient – 2 Language Learners Test It (With Video) Read More »

Rosetta Stone Review — Updated and Improved…And Needs More Improvement

Rosetta Stone

Rating 3.2

Summary

Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known resources for learning languages. It takes an immersive approach to teaching and is widely used by corporations and individuals alike. High levels of repetition and an absence of translations or explanations are hallmarks of the course. Rosetta Stone course could be most suitable for learners that don’t mind repetitive exercises and prefer to learn from pictures and context rather than translations and explanations. It’s probably not a good option for anyone wanting to significantly improve their speaking or writing skills, or those looking for an engaging course.


Quality 3.0

The platform is a bit clunky on desktop, but the material is accurate and presented clearly; lesson mechanics are fairly intuitive.

Thoroughness 3.0

Without much opportunity to build your own sentences, I don’t think you’ll reach a conversational level with any notable speed.

Value 3.5

Rosetta Stone’s Lifetime Subscription ($199 on sale) is quite attractive if you like the Rosetta Stone Method. Shorter subscriptions are quite reasonable, too.

I Like
  • The audio quality is very good.
  • Lessons progress naturally and logically.
I Don’t Like
  • It’s repetitive and boring.
  • You don’t get to generate your own sentences.
  • Speech recognition doesn’t work very well.
  • No grammar explanations in core material.
Price

A three-month subscription to one language is $35.97, which works out to be $11.99/month.
A year-long subscription to one course is $95.88, which is $7.99/month. Both of these subscriptions are automatically recurring.
Lifetime access to all Rosetta Stone language courses is available for $199.

ALR Readers Exclusive Holiday Deal!! Get the Lifetime Subscription for 25 languages for $179 (everywhere else it’s $199 right now!). See details on the website.

Chances are, this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about Rosetta Stone for learning languages. The company has been hugely successful since its early start in the computer-assisted learning scene in 1992, and part of that is thanks to stellar advertising efforts.

Rosetta Stone Review — Updated and Improved…And Needs More Improvement Read More »

SpanishVIP Review — Unlimited Online Classes

SpanishVIP

Rating 4.5

Summary

SpanishVIP is a service that connects students and teachers of Spanish for online video lessons. It offers an “unlimited lessons” model for a monthly subscription and could be extremely cost effective for learners that take several lessons per week. It’s best suited for learners of Latin American Spanish at any level that want to improve their listening and speaking skills. It might not be the best fit if you’re mostly interested in Iberian Spanish or if you live in an Asian time zone.


Quality 4.5

The teachers are well trained and the materials are of high quality.

Thoroughness 4.5

You can really study whatever you like; the teachers are focused on helping you achieve your own specific goals.

Value 4.5

If you can take enough classes each week, the price is excellent.

I Like
  • Highly-personalized classes.
  • Great teachers.
  • It’s affordable.
I Don’t Like
  • There could be scheduling limitations for some students.
Price

In total there are 9 different subscription options with SpanishVIP: three for group classes, three for private classes, and three for SpanishVIP+ classes . Group classes come with a 7-day free trial, though you’ll still have to provide payment information upfront.

Group Classes – 1 Month: $99 3 Months: $249 6 Months: $399.

Private Classes – 1 Month: $149 3 Months: $399 6 Months: $699.

SpanishVIP+ Classes – 1 Month: $249, 3 Months: $649, 6 Months: $1,195.

Mention ALR to get a free month of group classes with any private class purchase.

There’s something about getting a human involved that is still unbeatable when it comes to language learning.

SpanishVIP Review — Unlimited Online Classes Read More »

Pimsleur Review — Learn While You… Do Just About Anything

Pimsleur

Rating 4.0

Summary

Pimsleur is one of the most popular and longest-standing resources out there for learning a foreign language. Its courses place a strong emphasis on aural and verbal communication skills, paying less attention to grammar explanations and reading or writing skills. There are over 50 language courses available with Pimsleur, and the bulk of the material is taught with audio lessons.


Quality 4.5

The platform is extremely well designed and easy to use. The content seems to be of high quality at all levels.

Thoroughness 4.0

Timely repetition and active practice work well, and lessons build on each other nicely, but the “intermediate fluency in 30 days” claim may be a stretch.

Value 3.5

The subscription option provides good value for some, but there may be more efficient ways to learn some languages.

I Like
  • The lessons are structured well and are an appropriate length.
  • There are both male and female native speakers.
  • Lessons build on each other nicely.
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing.
I Don’t Like
  • There’s very little visual content.
  • Lesson speed isn’t customizable.
Price

Subscriptions of either $14.95/month or $19.95/month are available for courses with at least 60 lessons. Prices otherwise range from around $20 to over $500. All purchases come with a 7-day free trial.

What is Pimsleur?

Frankly, it’s an institution. The name comes from linguist Paul Pimsleur, author of many books on language acquisition and applied linguistics, and developer of what is now known as the Pimsleur Method.

Pimsleur Review — Learn While You… Do Just About Anything Read More »

Lingualia Review — Best as a Casual Study Supplement

Lingualia

Rating 3.8

Summary

Lingualia is an online language-learning app targeted toward learners of English and Spanish. It utilizes artificial intelligence and its “exclusive Adaptive Learning method” to offer a learning experience that’s somewhat personalized. Practice happens through interactive activities that cover a variety of skills and have an element of gamification. The free version of Lingualia could make a good option for intermediate or advanced learners that want a casual, convenient way to keep their English or Iberian Spanish skills sharp. It probably isn’t the best option for beginners, those looking for a one-stop-shop resource, or students of Latin American Spanish.


Quality 3.3

It’s designed well and fun to use, but machine translations aren’t always accurate and the adaptive learning method could be better.

Thoroughness 4.0

Practice is varied and the courses cover a lot of material, but it’s doubtful you’d actually reach a B2 level.

Value 4.0

Great features and amount of content available for free, but I think the subscription prices are too high.

I Like
  • Male and female native speaker audio.
  • It’s fun to use.
  • Potential for human feedback on writing.
I Don’t Like
  • There are no speaking exercises.
  • Review opportunities are limited.
  • The community doesn’t seem very active.
Price

A limited version of the resource is available for free. Access to all features is available for a recurring subscription:
1 month: $25
3 months: $45 ($15/month)
6 months: $59.70 ($9.95/month)

Adaptive learning! Artificial intelligence! Personalized learning experience!

Lingualia Review — Best as a Casual Study Supplement Read More »

An Honest Review of Rocket Portuguese With Image of Portuguese City

Rocket Portuguese Review – Not Quite Worth the Money or Time

Rocket Portuguese

Rating 3.0

Summary

Rocket Portuguese is an online Portuguese course made up of audio and reading lessons. The course currently covers one difficulty level, which claims to bring beginning learners of Brazilian Portuguese up to an intermediate level. Interactive audio lessons and repetitive exercises provide learners with lots of practice in a variety of skills, but some may find it difficult to justify the price with how monotonous the course is. The course would work best for learners at a low level that enjoy both audio and visual content, lots of explanations, and frequent practice activities. It probably isn’t the right resource, though, for those looking for an especially engaging way to learn or those on a budget.


Quality 3.0

The interface is clean and easy to use, but the voice recognition could work better.

Thoroughness 3.0

The course is structured fairly well, but exercises are overly repetitive.

Value 3.0

There are certainly resources that are better worth your time and money than Rocket Portuguese.

I Like
  • There are plenty of practice opportunities
  • There’s a slight gamification aspect to the course
  • Practice activities get you practicing a variety of skills
I Don’t Like
  • The lessons can be quite boring
  • Culture lessons don’t contain a ton of detail
  • It’s too expensive for what it offers
Price

Rocket Portuguese Level One is available for a one-time price of $149.95 or $27/month for six months.

The dashboard also features a progress bar that makes it easy to see if you’re meeting your study goals and a link to some other handy tools. It’s easy to navigate and intuitive, which is great.

Rocket Portuguese Review – Not Quite Worth the Money or Time Read More »

An Honest Review of Magoosh With Image of London Bridge

Magoosh Review — An Inside Look at IELTS and TOEFL Test-Prep

Magoosh

Rating 4.3

Summary

Magoosh is an online test-prep company that supports prospective exam-takers primarily through online audio and video lessons. Courses are very thorough, and many include a guaranteed improvement on a previously received exam score. Some of the exams Magoosh helps students prepare for include the IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, SAT, and ACT.


Quality 4.0

The material seems to be mostly very accurate, and the interface is well-designed, but the video lessons could be more engaging.

Thoroughness 5.0

Lessons and practice exercises include extremely thorough instruction with plenty of examples and explanations.

Value 4.0

It’s one of the more affordable options and doesn’t seem to cut any corners, but watching videos is time-consuming.

I Like
  • Super detailed explanations.
  • Digital note-taking capability.
  • Realistic practice test.
I Don’t Like
  • Video lessons are time-consuming.
  • Users have to self-evaluate speaking and writing exercises.
Price

TOEFL

One month subscription for $79

Three months subscription for $99

Six months subscription for $149

IELTS

Three months subscription for $69

What in the world is a Magoosh? Maybe it’s the name of a traditional eggplant dish of some kind, or the sound a boot makes in a muddy creek bed. Okay no, not quite.

Magoosh Review — An Inside Look at IELTS and TOEFL Test-Prep Read More »

An Honest Review of Teuida App With Image of Korean Architecture

Teuida App Review — Learn Korean with a K-Pop Star

Teuida App

Rating 4.0

Summary

Teuida is a Korean learning app that’s available for iOS and Android, with instructions in English or Vietnamese. The app takes a unique approach to language teaching by simulating conversations, including some featuring K-Pop star Nancy from Momoland. Users of the app have the opportunity to get lots of speaking practice and feedback on pronunciation through voice recognition technology.


Quality 4.3

The design is superb, and it’s easy to use, but the voice recognition isn’t perfect.

Thoroughness 4.0

It offers lots of speaking practice as advertised, but it’s lacking detailed pronunciation training.

Value 3.3

There aren’t a lot of similar alternatives, but there are definitely more efficient ways to get real speaking practice.

I Like
  • Quality design and user experience.
  • It’s super engaging.
  • It teaches useful language.
  • There’s lots of speaking practice.
I Don’t Like
  • Pronunciation practice and instruction could be better.
  • No comprehensive review option.
  • You’ll mostly learn set phrases.
Price

The first lesson of every chapter on Teuida is free; a subscription is required for access to the full app.

1 Month: $14.99
3 Months: $20.99
12 Months: $79.99

You can use the coupon code ‘ALR003‘ to get the 3-month subscription for $18.99.

Note that iOS users will need to enter this code as the “Referrer ID,” either when signing up or under Settings > Account > Referrer ID.

Teuida App Review — Learn Korean with a K-Pop Star Read More »