Arabic

Glosbe Dictionary

3.5 
Price: Free

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Glosbe is a dictionary that serves over 6000 languages. Most words have a list of definitions, conjugations, declensions, and similar phrases (although these phrases are hit or miss when it comes to how relevant they are to the initial entry). Many of the entries are created by community members, who can add and edit translations, example sentences, pronunciations, and images. Also, the site does not use text-to-voice pronunciation — as a result, some words may not have any pronunciation.

It’s important to note that some of the content is not checked by the creators, such as the example sentences. Be careful if you are trying to learn new phrases from these lists, as although many of them are correct, there are a few that may lead you to learn inaccurate vocabulary or grammar. Additionally, less commonly studied languages may be listed as available, but only contain a few lines of content.

Overall, Glosbe may be a helpful tool if you can’t find dictionaries that specialize in your target language. However, SpanishDict is a far more comprehensive option for Spanish learners, as is Pleco for Chinese learners and Kanji Study for Japanese. You can also check out Forvo, a dictionary resource for native speaker audio files that has strict rules on community contributions.

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Complete Language Lessons

0.2 
Price: $8.99 for the CD/$1.29 per track on Amazon, free on Spotify

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Complete Language Lessons has audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon, Spotify, and Deezer. We tried out the Swahili audio course, Learn Swahili Easily, Effectively, and Fluently – and were extremely disappointed.

The audio tracks we sampled consist of Swahili phrases repeated over and over again, with no translations, explanations, or anything in English. The audio quality isn’t great, either, and the occasional muted club music adds to the bizarreness. 

It feels to us like the audio tracks are supposed to accompany a textbook, but we couldn’t find one. If one existed at some point, we suspect it’s no longer available.

If you already speak the language and are looking for native audio recordings to help you improve your listening and pronunciation, you might get some value out of Complete Language Lessons. However, if your aim is learn the language, we would skip these CDs.

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Vocabulearn

0.6 
Price: $29.99 on Amazon, free on Spotify

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Vocabulearn has so-called audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon and Spotify. We don’t believe you’ll learn much from them, but they could help you practice your pronunciation.

For this mini review, we tried out the Vocabulearn Swahili/English Level 1 course. It’s split into four CDs, each with its own theme, and then each theme is divided into four lessons. The themes are: Nouns; Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions 1; Expressions; Verbs.

In each track, we listened to long lists of words and phrases. First, it was said in English; secondly, it was said in Swahili. However, there were no grammar or contextual explanations, drills, or activities to help you remember the material.

In short, we’re not convinced that you’d be able to make your own sentences or even remember the vocabulary after listening to these CDs. However, if you’re studying a language with fewer resources, we think you could use it to practice your pronunciation by repeating each word after the speakers say it.

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Arabic Workshop

Price: Freemium, £7/mo, £60/year, £280/lifetime

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Arabic Workshop is a website with over 153 level appropriate comprehensible input videos for levels A1 – B1 on the CEFR scale. They break these videos down into 15 levels so that you can advance the difficulty one step at a time. Although the creators continue to add more videos, there are currently only about 25 videos available at the B1 level. Therefore, it’s probably most appropriate for A1 – A2 learners.

Each video uses audio by voice actors and has an animation of a hand drawing each scene of the story or dialogue. The stories follow themes from everyday life, with vocabulary that you can apply to real life situations. Although there are no flashcards, there is a Vocabulary Builder function that highlights the phrases in each video’s transcript. You can click on a word to see a definition and a breakdown of how the word was formed. Unfortunately, there are no translations of full sentences, which may be frustrating for beginners. Additionally, you will need to learn the Arabic alphabet if you want to read the transcript, as there is no romanization.

Although Arabic Workshop has a modern interface and attractive videos, there is not nearly as much content or features compared to ArabicPod101 (which goes for about the same subscription price if you catch it on one of its regular sales).

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Arabic Quick!

4.3 
Price: Free

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Arabic Quick! Is a website dedicated to teaching you the Arabic alphabet. Although it has an attractive interface and is quite thorough, it doesn’t have much audio support to help you learn pronunciation — but, with Madinah Arabic as pronunciation support, Arabic Quick! is an excellent guide for your first steps in Arabic.

The first page of the guide has an overview of the entire alphabet. Then, each letter is broken down by how it is written at the start, middle, and end of a word. There are sample words with explanations of different pronunciations, mnemonic devices to remember how each letter is written, and a visual comparison between other letters that look similar.

After learning the alphabet, you can practice reading a series of essential Arabic words with audio pronunciation by native speakers. This section is more like phrasebook, so if that’s what you’re looking for you can also download SimplyLearn or go to LingoHut for lots of pronunciation by Native Speakers. Otherwise, we recommend you check out Madinah Arabic, Arabicpod101, or Arabic in 60 steps for structured lessons for beginners.

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Arabic Online

2.7 
Price: Price: Freemium, Courses cost between £59 - £250

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Arabic Online is a web-based course with native speaker audio, speaking practice, and recall activities. Although they provide a Guide To Writing Arabic e-book, you may want to check out Arabic Quick! for a more comprehensive introduction. This will help you at the intermediate level when most of the text uses the Arabic script.

The section on Advanced Arabic and the Grammar Explorer seem promising: they have interactive activities and texts to improve your grammar, sentence building, and reading comprehension. The rest of the courses, however, focus on memorizing phrases for talking about food, shopping, travel, and formal and informal meetings by listening to and replicating dialogues. There isn’t as much focus on building sentences as there is about memorizing them.

If you’re going to pay for a course, Arabic Online doesn’t seem as thorough or straightforward as other options. Additionally, the site has some bugs that can make navigation frustrating. Total beginners should probably look elsewhere to start their learning journey.

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Madinah Arabic

2.8 
Price: Free

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Madinah Arabic is most suitable for learners focused on classical Arabic. It has text-based lessons for beginners and quizzes for intermediate learners. Although the interface is not very modern, it gives a decent introduction to the Arabic script, in addition to basic sentence structures with native speaker pronunciation for every word.

After learning the basic script, there are over 100 step-by-step beginner lessons that start with practical sentence structures. Instead of learning basic phrases, such as how to order food at a restaurant, you will learn how to build your own sentences. There are a few fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions in the lessons, plus about 90 beginner to advanced quizzes to test listening and reading comprehension. The site also offers Arabic tutors over Skype with a free trial lesson.

Keep in mind that the information may not be as easy to digest as in Duolingo or Arabicpod101, and it will probably take a lot of  discipline to make your way through the lessons.

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My Language Exchange

4.2 
Price: Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo

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My Language Exchange has been growing since 2000. Although the website seems out of date, it still has an active community of millions of language-learners who speak almost 200 native languages (including less commonly studied languages).

You can choose a pen pal by reading their bios, or there is a chat room available for you to instantly connect with a language exchange partner — note that if you create a Gold account, you can initiate chats with other users, but as a regular user, you will have to wait to be contacted.

Using the Cormier Method, the website provides tools to help intermediate speakers effectively practice with other learners. It advertises a Chat Companion with lesson plans to accompany your exchange, or lesson plans developed by teachers (although the quality of these resources varies drastically). 

You can also find language teachers on the site, but given that the transactions take place directly between you and the teacher, you may feel safer using a 3rd party platform like italki or Verbling

Although there are outlines on how to participate in language exchanges, how these outlines are followed depends entirely on you and your partner(s). My Language Exchange will help you build connections with other learners, but it’s up to you to plan how to practice. The concepts can also be used with any language exchange platform, such as Lingbe, italki, Tandem, and Amikumu.

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lexilogos

3.5 
Price: Free

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Although Lexilogos seems to have entirely neglected its aesthetics, it holds more than meets the eye. If you click on one of the 130+ languages listed at the bottom of the page, you will find a series of resources to support your studies. This is especially useful for less-studied languages, like Marathi, Basque, and Pashto. Although the lists don’t provide recommendations for applications, they do provide a list of dictionaries, keyboards, news sites, books, and research papers. Additionally, if you switch to the French version of the site, there are even more languages and resources available for you to explore.

Within each language’s page, there is also a dictionary search function. You will notice that more commonly studied languages will have dozens of dictionaries to choose from, while less commonly studied languages may only have one or two.

Overall, Lexilogos is a great option for finding resources for less commonly studied languages. They regularly update their site, so make sure to check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for the first time around.

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Duolingo

Quick Review

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

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

Thoroughness

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

Value

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

Languages: Duolingo offers 35 language courses with English instruction, three of which are constructed languages. Courses are available in most popular languages, including Spanish, French, German, etc.

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)

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