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Learn Malayalam with EliKutty

3.5 
Price: Free

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Learn Malayalam with EliKutty is a frequently updated YouTube channel that mixes one-minute Malayalam lessons with videos about “EliKutty”’s life with her Malayali husband.

EliKutty, aka Eliza Keyton, is an English teacher and US expat. While not a native speaker, her lessons have a pedagogical foundation and are easy to understand.

Her One Minute Malayalam series will help you learn things like different ways to say “no” or “give” and how to make conditional sentences. She also has a six-video series on how to learn the Malayalam script, which nicely explains the subtle differences in pronunciation.

The content can seem unstructured, so it’s not ideal for complete beginners. However, if you’re a beginner Malayalam student, you will likely find it a short-and-sweet way to supplement your studies.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Malayalam Smart Slate

Price: Free with ads

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The Malayalam Smart Slate app from BigKnol aims to teach you the Malayalam script. Unfortunately, we don’t think you’re likely to learn much from using it.

When you open the app, you’ll be able to choose between Practice and Write. Under Practice, you can view the script, complete with audio recordings and occasional example pictures and words. There’s no actual practice involved, however.

Under Write, you can draw something and it will tell you which Malayalam symbol it thinks you’ve drawn. However, this doesn’t mean you’ve drawn it correctly: we found that even if you scribble on the screen, it will produce a symbol for you.

Unfortunately, this app seems to be missing a key stage: the one where it teaches you how to write the symbols. There’s no explanation of stroke number, order, or direction, nor do you get the opportunity to trace the symbols.

Save yourself some time, and try Malayalam Aksharamala or Malayalam Alphabets instead.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Write Malayalam Alphabets

Price: Free

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Use the Write Malayalam Alphabets app to practice tracing the Malayalam script on your smartphone or tablet. Yet while we like the idea of learning on the go, this isn’t our first choice of app for learning the Malayalam alphabet.

The app won’t teach you stroke number, order, or direction. We found ourselves guessing at whether we should double back on our strokes to draw a symbol in one go, or whether we should stop and draw it in two or three strokes.

There isn’t an in-built quiz, either, and you can’t select which symbols you want to practice.

Write Malayalam Alphabets certainly isn’t the worst script-learning app we’ve come across, but we think there are better options available. Try Malayalam Aksharamala (reviewed here) instead.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Malayalam Alphabets App (Times Hunt)

2.4 
Price: Free

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The Malayalam Alphabets App by Times Hunt left us with mixed feelings.

Let’s start with the positive: we think it’s a great way to practice writing the scripts. Unlike most apps, it teaches stroke number, order, and direction. This often isn’t intuitive, so apps that don’t break it down can leave you confused or with terrible handwriting. This app is also very child-friendly.

Here’s the negative: it doesn’t contain any audio recordings of the scripts. You’ll have great handwriting but you won’t know how to pronounce what you’re writing. There aren’t any quizzes, either, so you never get to practice writing independently.

There are also a few undeveloped ideas. For example, it teaches you some basic Malayalam vocabulary but doesn’t give you the option to practice writing them.

We would still use this app. However, we think it’s best used alongside Malayalam Aksharamala (review). Alternatively, purchase a workbook and just use Malayalam Aksharamala.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Learn Malayalam Alphabets Audio

Price: Free

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The Learn Malayalam Alphabets Audio app from BigKnol is free and contains clear audio recordings. However, it’s not much use for learners.

When you open the app, you’ll be able to access “vowels” and “consonants.” Each option takes you to a list of Malayalam symbols. Press the audio button to hear a recording of one. Alternatively, you can press the lightbulb button to see a picture of a word that is written with that symbol – sometimes. At other times, it will tell you “Ho! No Example!”.

You don’t get to practice writing or even speaking the Malayalam script with this app, and there is no quiz or test, meaning that learning the symbols is up to you.

In short, we just don’t see the point in using this app. There are far better alternatives available, such as Malayalam Aksharamala or Malayalam Alphabets.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Alter Gyan/Learn X Quickly

3.2 
Price: Free; watch an ad or pay to unlock some themes

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Alter Gyan’s apps set out to teach you essential words and phrases in 13 different Indian languages. The series include Learn Hindi Quickly, Learn Punjabi Quickly, and Learn Bengali Quickly. What makes it even better is the fact that you can learn from other common Indian, East Asian, and European languages – not just English.

Although Alter Gyan (also called Altergyan) has also made apps for European and East Asian languages, we can’t recommend them. Our score is solely for the apps for the Indian languages. This is because the biggest selling point of these apps is the variety of languages for which, frankly, there aren’t always many resources.

When you open the app, you can view word lists for over 30 themes. You can drill them with flash cards, take multiple-choice quizzes, and even record yourself speaking and listen back.

If you can find your language on something like uTalk (review), Ling (review), Simply Learn Languages (review), or Vocly (review), we would recommend studying with those apps instead. We find them more effective, engaging, and comprehensive. However, if these apps aren’t an option, or if you want to learn from Tamil or Telugu, Alter Gyan’s Learn Quickly apps could help you memorize basic words and phrases for essential situations.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Kannada Alphabet

Price: Free – and ad-free, too!

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With the Kannada Alphabet app from Bhasha.io, you’ll practice pairing the Kannada character to the right transliteration. It makes heavy use of audio files. 

However, it doesn’t teach you how to write the script, so you’ll need to pair it with another app such as Kannada101 or practice on your own. It could be further improved with a record yourself or speaking option.

We also feel it could do with more quizzes and drilling, especially as you move into later lessons. The app is divided into 11 different sections, each one teaching you 4–5 characters. The quizzes are built into the sections and test you on the characters from the same section and the one before. In other words, Vowels – Part 3 will drill you on the material from Vowels – Part 3 and Vowels – Part 2 but not Vowels – Part 1. We found ourselves quickly forgetting characters from earlier sections and mixing them up.

Bear in mind that you also have to provide an email address in order to use the app.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Speak Malayalam 360

1.7 
Price: Free

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The Speak Malayalam 360 app promises “a natural language learning pattern that helps to speak and write the Malayalam language easily.” What it delivers is a list of words and phrases for you to memorize, with some poorly thought out tests. It’s a shame, because it is well designed and has lots of potential.

When you open the app, you’re presented with 12 different options, from “talk” to “practice” to “share.” Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that very few of these labels are accurate. Most of them give way to a short word or phrase list, and not all of them have audio recordings (not even Conjunct consonants I–IV or Vowel Diacritics).

What’s more, it’s not entirely clear why some of these words were chosen or grouped together. We were left wondering: Why are three variations of “Are you sleeping?” mixed with asking directions? And for that matter, why does “Numbers I” start from 11?

The Skill Test section is a good addition, but unfortunately it doesn’t test you on the different sections. You need to memorize everything in the app before trying this out.

The Write section is also a nice idea, but it’s underdeveloped. It allows you to draw Malayalam symbols, and then it will tell you what it thinks you’ve drawn, how to pronounce it, and a word that begins with it. Bear in mind that this is no indication that you’ve drawn it well: even if you just scribble on the screen, the app will interpret it as a symbol. And there is no way to see or trace symbols before you draw them.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Learn Basic Malayalam In Six Weeks

Price: $10, or around $6 for a second-hand one via Amazon

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Looking for a Malayalam textbook? Learn Basic Malayalam In Six Weeks: With Daily Worksheets & Answer Key is the best out of a bad bunch.

The authors, Lissy J Kunnathu and John D Kunnathu, have also written Speak Malayalam In 10 Weeks for after you’ve finished Learn Basic Malayalam In Six Weeks and Malayalam Alphabet: Practice Workbook. You can do the workbook alongside the first textbook.

Learn Basic Malayalam In Six Weeks contains 42 lessons, which in theory is one per day. The authors recommend studying each one for 30 minutes. Realistically speaking, you’re likely to spend more than six weeks on this, due to days off and time spent reviewing prior material.

The book is structured into four parts: sounds, words, phrases, and sentences. Depending on your learning style, you may find this slightly demotivating. Despite the strong focus on grammar, it’s not until lesson 33 that you finally learn “The Basic Sentence Structure.”

That said, this book is popular among learners, and for good reason: it’s hard to find decent Malayalam learning resources, and this textbook is clear, structured, and easy-to-understand text for beginners. We would pair it with Mango Languages or Ling for a more engaging and interactive introduction to studying the language. 

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Malayalam Mission

Price: Free

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Malayalam Mission is an online course designed for children aged 9–16, although it will accept children aged 6+. It teaches reading, writing, and listening, and there’s an accompanying app (Google Play, App Store).

The website is entirely in Malayalam, which can make registering for the course tricky. Go to this webpage, click the green button, and fill out the form.

The course tells the story of a girl of Indian heritage visiting her grandparents in Kerala. She doesn’t have Malayalam as a native language, which allows students to learn alongside her as she navigates life in Kerala. The lessons have been designed by volunteer teachers.

We haven’t been able to try out the course, as it requires you to be a child. However, we have used the app, which contains the textbooks as well as some supplementary reading and listening activities. We were impressed by the amount of free Malayalam material available and the child-friendly design and activities.

That said, we would recommend studying it with the help of a parent or teacher, especially if you or your child is a complete beginner. Bear in mind that it assumes existing knowledge of the Malayalam script, and does not use any English.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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