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Author name: Tara

Tara is a passionate Taiwanese-Canadian language learner and aspiring polyglot. She speaks French, Mandarin, and Spanish to varying degrees of fluency, and has a basic foundation of Japanese. She is particularly fascinated with researching the most effective language-learning techniques and applying them to her own studies.

Mondly Review – Made Significant Improvements Made in 2022

Mondly

Rating 2.7

Summary

Mondly is a language-learning app that teaches basic vocabulary and grammar structures. It seems most appropriate for learners with little to no exposure to their target language.

The activities mostly rely on passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, and therefore are not very challenging. However, they are varied enough that you probably wouldn’t get bored with short, daily practice sessions.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Mondly to anyone looking to seriously learn a language, it may be appropriate for individuals studying languages with less available resources, or for individuals who are preparing to travel abroad.


Quality 3.0

Both the interface and the course itself could be designed better. *Edited on Nov 22* It has made many improvements this year. We will update soon.

Thoroughness 2.5

It’s decent for learning vocabulary, but I thought a lot of the material wasn’t explained very well.

Value 3.0

It’s fairly inexpensive.

I Like
  • Daily lessons, weekly quizzes, and monthly challenges – these functionalities encourage you to practice every day.
  • The vocabulary included is useful and drilled in an effective way.
  • It’s fairly inexpensive.
I Don’t Like
  • The content and exercises are the same for all levels and languages.
  • The exercises are mostly passive.
  • I don’t think the order of lessons and topics is very well thought out.
  • For me, the interface is not user friendly and the platform is visually unappealing.
Price

There are three plans… $12.49 per month for one language $59.99 per year for one language and $124.99 for lifetime.

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LingQ Review – Extensive Reading Made Easy

LingQ

Rating 4.0

Summary

LingQ is a language-learning platform that focuses on extensive reading for over 30 different languages. You can import your own content or choose from the community library of books, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, and more.

The app highlights unknown words across every lesson and makes them reviewable via different types of SRS flashcards. The more you read, the more accurately you will be able to identify content that is suitable for your level.

Although I did not find it beneficial for languages I had never studied before, I think LingQ can be helpful for upper-beginner to advanced language learners who enjoy reading. It is especially helpful if you struggle to find graded readers in your target language.


Quality 4.0

The LingQ reading app is enjoyable in most languages, easy to use, and can expand your vocabulary. However, I found the user content frustrating to navigate.

Thoroughness 4.0

With the import function, users can choose to study almost anything they want.

Value 4.0

Now that other apps provide similar functions, the monthly subscription may be a bit overpriced. However, the yearly subscription seems fair.

I Like
  • I can easily import almost any material I want to study.
  • I can use SRS flashcards to quiz new words from a specific page.
  • Each lesson in the library displays the percentage of known and unknown words based on my reading history.
  • There are many dictionaries to choose from for definitions.
I Don’t Like
  • Reviewing words is chaotic. Every word you look up gets added to a huge queue that quickly becomes unmanageable.
  • The extra features are overpriced and can be found other places for cheaper.
  • Very little of the content is original. Much of it was uploaded by users from other places.
  • The free version is extremely limited.
Price

Premium membership costs $14.99/mo, $119.88/year, $215.76/2-years; single-language lifetime membership costs $229

When I first signed up for LingQ, I wasn’t very impressed. Its seemingly random lesson library, filled with custom cover photos and inconsistent title formats, made me want to click on just about anything to get away from that page.

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OPLingo Mini Review: Community Driven, Non-Profit

OPLingo

Rating 3.5
Price:

Freemium, Premium Subscriptions cost $6.99/mo, $60/Year

Summary

OPLingo is a community-oriented, non-profit language learning site. It essentially combines the functions of LingQ, LangCorrect, Readlang, iTalki, and HelloTalk. The free version gives you limited access to some functions, but by paying for a membership you support ethical causes — such as building a primary school in Tanzania. You can browse user-contributed texts or easily import your own YouTube videos, articles, or ebooks into the Reading Tool. OPLingo has also developed hundreds of audio conversations in several languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano, Thai, Swahili, and Russian. Within each page, you can read a transcript and get definitions and pronunciations of unknown words. By identifying which words you don’t know, the next passages you read will highlight the number of known or unknown vocabulary words. In their Write & Correct section, you can write in over 100 languages and exchange corrections with other users, although Spanish, French, and English learners have a better chance of receiving corrections than other languages at the moment. You can also practice a language by texting with fellow community members, or by hiring a teacher in your target language. OPLingo has a lot of potential and is a good alternative to LingQ, but it needs a community of learners to help it grow — so check it out!

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YesJapan Mini Review: Simple Explanations With Intuitive UI

YesJapan

Rating 4.0
Price:

Free

Summary

YesJapan is a free website and YouTube channel for beginner to intermediate learners. It is based on the textbook series, Japanese From Zero!  The online courses consist of lesson videos, new phrases and words, cultural notes, grammar explanations, dialogues, and quizzes. You can choose to display each lesson’s Japanese words in romaji, hiragana, hiragana and katakana, or Kanji, depending on your comfort level. Also, throughout each lesson, you can add sentences or phrases to be saved to your Notebook for future review. To support your listening comprehension and speaking abilities, every word, sentence and conversation has been recorded by native Japanese speakers. Their 5 levels of courses supposedly bring you from being a total beginner to a high intermediate learner, but since they are each only about 13 lessons long, you will probably need extra support from a tutor or language exchange partner to feel comfortable with the language. Despite what the website advertises, it seems that Course 1 is 100% free, while other courses require an upgrade to a premium membership. The membership also gives you access to the Ask-a-Teacher function. There doesn’t seem to be any writing practice included in the lessons, so you may need to use Skritter, or LangCorrect for practice.  Overall, YesJapan seems like an effective resource to introduce beginners to Japanese in a simple and engaging way.

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NHK World Mini Review: A Quality Introduction to Japanese

NHK World

Rating 4.2
Price:

Free

Summary

Easy Japanese, by NHK World Radio Japan, provides a series of free Japanese grammar and conversation lessons for beginners. The 48 10-minute audio lessons and 48 30-second video lessons are designed like an audio-drama. They will teach you useful expressions through practical everyday scenarios, such as in the classroom, at a bakery, or during conversations with friends. You can keep track of your study records and add vocabulary notes to your notebook in the My Haru-san dashboard. If you haven’t yet learned hiragana and katakana, you will find a table with stroke order diagrams and audio. NHK World recommends using Memory Hint, another free app that teaches you basic hiragana, katakana, and kanji through mnemonic devices. Although it is sometimes a little confusing to navigate, overall, NHK World is a high-quality resource for beginners to start learning the basics of Japanese writing, grammar, conversation, and culture. The bite-sized animated videos and step-by-step lessons seem both manageable and fun.

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StoryLearning Olly Richards 101 Conversations Mini Review: Practical

Olly Richards 101 Conversations

Rating 3.7
Price:

Kindle books cost $0.99

Summary

Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language, has written a series of books for beginner and intermediate learners to improve their conversation skills in several languages. He also has a Short Stories series, but this review focuses on 101 Conversations. His 101 Conversations series has a beginner and intermediate book for every language, though both books are appropriate for level A2 on the CEFR scale. You will learn natural phrases that you can use in everyday conversation through following the story of six people. Each chapter has a dialogue between some of these characters, which you can engage with through the practical learning methods that Olly outlines at the beginning of each book. While the first chapter in the first book may have one-sentence exchanges, the characters get chattier and the grammar becomes more complex as you continue reading. Overall, Olly’s 101 Conversations series is fun to follow, particularly because each book sets out to solve a mystery. They are less expensive than his Short Stories series, but also contain less content (there are no comprehension questions or summaries at the end of the chapters, but there are short vocabulary lists). Nevertheless, both are probably a good investment to advance your conversational Spanish abilities.

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Juan Fernández Graded Readers Mini Review: Strategic

Juan Fernández Graded Readers

Rating 4.3
Price:

Kindle books range from $3.06 – $3.94

Summary

Juan Fernández used to teach Spanish at University College London and has written a series of graded Spanish readers for A1 – B2 learners. He is also the author of the podcast, Español con Juan. Unlike other graded readers, the A1 book doesn’t throw you directly into a story. Instead, it starts out with a list of basic sentences that gradually repeat with increased complexity until they turn into a story in the later chapters. Although this may seem repetitive at first, it seems like an effective way to incrementally expand and reinforce your vocabulary. This technique sets you up for success in future reading endeavours by helping you master the basics through repetition. The A2 – B2 books maintain the same level of repetition to reinforce new, level-appropriate words. You can find extra material for these books on his website here. Overall, Juan Fernández’s books are one of the few series that has a book for true A1 learners. If you have little background in Spanish, you can still follow along and gradually move onto the more advanced books in the series. Nevertheless, the graded reader series by ESLC or Read It! may be a better option for upper beginners who want something that resembles a book that you might read in your native language.

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Elon.io Mini Review: A Bit Messy

Elon.io

Rating 3.3
Price:

Free

Summary

Elon.Io is a website that teaches basic Japanese, Turkish, and Spanish writing, vocabulary, and grammar. As you complete each lesson, a checkmark will appear beside it in the table of contents. You can also sign up for a free account to keep track of your progress.  You can review concepts from your errors in the SRS quizzes, but these review lessons carry into every language. So, if you have reviews leftover from Japanese, you will review them during your Turkish and Spanish studies. In Japanese and Spanish, the lessons seem to build on one another. For example, you may learn some basic kanji and then use them in the next lesson with a new grammar concept. In Turkish, however, you will have to look at the “exercises” section of the lesson to succeed in the quizzes. Unfortunately, the lessons put a strong emphasis on translation, and the Japanese version often uses romaji instead of kana or kanji. Although it’s free, you might want to check out our other recommended resources first.

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