French

Encore!!! Language Learning Mini-Review: Basically a Phrasebook

Encore!!! Language Learning – 1.5 

Encore!!! Language Learning allows you to listen to playlists of common phrases, vocabulary, conjugations, and dialogues. It varies in terms of whether it uses native speakers or automated text-to-voice.

The app is basically a phrasebook that allows you to practice translating sentences to and from your native language, or simply repeat after an audio in your target language. You can listen to a pre-made playlist, mute or unmute certain phrases within a playlist, adjust the number of repetitions of each phrase, or create your own playlist. You can also test your memory with the Test tool by reading prompts in your native language and translating into your target language.

The app seems to focus more on understanding grammar structures than other phrasebook sites like Optilingo or Lingohut. Technically you could learn something by repeating the phrases aloud, but there are many other free apps that provide a clearer learning path and have a more intuitive interface than Encore!!! Language Learning.

Visit Encore!!! Language Learning

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Caption Pop Mini-Review: Use The Free Version

Caption Pop – 4 

With Caption Pop you can use YouTube videos to pursue your language learning endeavours using subtitles in both your target language and native language. Tap a single key to repeat the last caption, slow down the playback speed, and bookmark subtitles to study with SRS interactive flashcards. The flashcards will not just have you memorize words, but practice dictations with immediate feedback on your accuracy. Unfortunately there are currently some bugs in the programming, and you may only hear part of the caption you are being asked to transcribe.

You can search for Youtube videos in your target language within the Caption Pop platform, but only those videos with subtitles in both your target language and your native language are available. This means that you will rely on captions translated and transcribed by the video’s creators, which improves your language learning experience but restricts the amount of available Youtube content. Nevertheless, there is a good amount of content from popular channels in more common languages.

The free version of the platform combined with self-made Anki cards may be a better option than subscribing to the premium version, as the bugs in Caption Pop’s programming don’t seem worth the monthly payment.

Visit Caption Pop

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Rocket French Review – Solid But Boring

Quick Review

3.7 

Summary:

Rocket Languages offers courses in a number of languages, some of which aren’t great, while others are pretty solid. Rocket French is neither amazing nor terrible, it’s pretty good. The content is structured well and gives you lots of opportunities to practice what you’ve learned. But, their lessons can be rather bland, with a large emphasis on rote memorization drills.

Quality

The lessons aren’t very exciting, but you’ll learn from them, and they’re designed well.

Thoroughness

The course structure is solid and includes lots of explanations.

Value

The price tag for the lessons is relatively high but justifiable.

Price

Level 1 costs $99.95, Levels 1 and 2 cost $249.90, all three levels together costs $259.90.

Alternatives: Pimsleur is a somewhat similar course that focuses more heavily on oral language.

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Take Lessons Mini-Review: Use iTalki, Verbling, or Preply Instead

take lessons – 2.3 

At Take Lessons you can find in-person and online teachers for various topics, including language learning. This review is specific only to language learning.

Once on the site, you can filter teachers based on their location, availability, and price, then view the teacher’s profile to see their experience, student ratings, and basic bio. Most of the teachers have great ratings, so the quality of teaching is probably not an issue. However, Take Lessons takes about 40% of whatever the teachers charge. Obviously teachers need to charge a living wage, so can expect to pay 25% more than most language learning platforms whose teachers are of comparable quality.

Why 25%? Because most platforms (like iTalki and Verbling for example) only take a 15% commission, if not less. The only difference is that you could potentially have in-person lessons with Take Lessons, while the previously mentioned platforms are all online.

Take Lessons is probably a handy site for other types of services, but there are many more teachers and features specific to language learning available through the above mentioned alternative platforms.

Visit take lessons

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Altissia Mini-Review: May or May Not Be Modern

Altissia – 3.6 

Altissia is a language learning platform developed by academics at the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve in Belgium. The creators emphasize a humanistic vision, believing that people are at the centre of everything we do and that language empowers us.

A monthly plan gives you access to their unique platform, a social network, virtual classrooms, and professional modules. You can choose lessons that are most applicable to your learning goals and watch videos of native speakers interacting in realistic situations.

The courses will help you improve your pronunciation through recording your voice and comparing it to that of native speakers, improve your spelling through dictations, improve your listening comprehension through different exercises, and learn grammar through progressive exercises. Each month you can take a placement test to see where you stand on the CEFR scale (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

There does not seem to be a Spaced Repetition System within the program, but they have an interactive dictionary to help you review.

The publicity videos and webpage have a modern feel, but it seems like some of the content within the platform may date back several years. Additionally, it is very expensive compared to other products that offer similar content.

Visit Altissia

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Rassias Center Mini-Review: A Lively Learning Environment

Rassias Center – 4.3 

Originally an in-person school, the Rassias Center now offers online semi-intensive classes. The classes prioritize spoken language and understanding the culture of the language being studied.

The Rassias method aims to make students feel comfortable speaking a language within a short time frame. The teaching techniques are both dramatic and structured; you will find yourself in a creative, fast-paced, and enthusiastic environment with teachers who are passionate about your success and will positively reinforce your learning. You can be sure with the Rassias technique that you will quickly feel at ease no matter how hesitant you are to join a group class.

It should be noted that online classes may offer less opportunity to speak as there would be in a live setting.

The virtual courses are 3 weeks long, meeting 3 times per week for 1.5 hours and within groups of 5-12 students.

Visit Rassias Center

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Instant Immersion Mini-Review: No Longer a Good Investment

Instant Immersion – 2 

Instant Immersion offers programs in over 120 languages, narrated by native speakers. It claims to help you build your vocabulary, converse with ease, and perfect your pronunciation. It has interactive activities on the computer, interactive games you can play with your family on a DVD, and MP3 files for your car.

Their topics include food, shopping, restaurants, animals, numbers, etc. In other words, Instant Immersion will probably not help you if you are looking to have immediately applicable conversations

A common trend in many reviews is the lack of structure in these courses. While other courses build on what you have previously learned and help you learn vocabulary relevant to your everyday life, Instant Immersion seems to provide a large amount of information without transitions or a clear learning path. There is a lot of content, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you will learn a lot. Instant Immersion may have been a good investment several years ago, but now there are many other options for affordable, quality language learning.

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The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Daily French Pod Review: Bite-Sized Listening Comprehension

Daily French Pod – 4.5 

Daily French Podcast is a series of short 4-5 minute podcasts developed by a team of educators — all with a Master’s Degree in French as a foreign language.

The narrator will read a short fact about current events, history, or culture. He will then repeat it, then deconstruct the new words. You will hear examples of how to use the words in different contexts, and also an explanation of the tenses of various verbs. Whether or not he translates words into English varies, but even with the translations it would seem that 98% of each episode is in French. He speaks relatively slowly, but some of the vocabulary is more advanced; intermediate learners would benefit from the new vocabulary, while the content would probably help upper-beginner learners advance their listening comprehension.

The creators also have a series of other podcasts for more advanced learners and native speakers. You can learn about culture, science, health, history, travel, tech, and more in 1 to 3 minute segments. Check them out here.

Visit Daily French Pod

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Readlang Mini-Review: A Must-Have For Language Lovers

Readlang – 4.5 

With Readlang as your Google Chrome Extension, you can have instant translations for words or sentences in over 45 languages at the tip of your mouse cursor (or fingertip)! Browse the internet and effortlessly click on unknown words to get a translation that stays on your screen until it is no longer needed.

If you can’t find anything to read on the internet, you can access a bank of public texts organized by word count and difficulty, browse the most popular websites for Readlang users, or upload your own text to study.

The best part is, Readlang will collect flashcards for you from words you have translated. It will only record the most useful words for you to practice based on word frequency lists, which could be either a pro or a con depending on your study goals. The flashcards follow a Spaced Repetition System that will prompt you to study words based on the natural forgetting curve, so you will be quizzed on the words you are about to forget. Each flashcard also includes audio pronunciation and the sentence from which the word was taken for reference. You can choose to reveal the flashcard to check your comprehension, or type in your response for more effective recall.

The free version provides enough for an average user, but upgrading to an affordable premium membership both supports this awesome resource and allows for unlimited phrase translations. Although there may be some problems with translations in beta languages, and sometimes it fails to recognize text, overall Readlang is an excellent resource for language lovers.

Visit Readlang

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Quizlet Mini-Review: A Flashcard/Quiz App for Many Languages

Quizlet – 3.2 

Quizlet is a flashcard-based learning system. Community-contributed flashcards are available for numerous languages. These vary in quality, but you can preview them to see how well they meet your needs.

Each set of flashcards powers other activities: In Learn mode, you demonstrate your mastery of each word or phrase by using multiple choice to select the correct definition. There are also spelling and writing exercises. The spelling exercises can be frustrating, as they sometimes require the addition of alternate word endings that are not always pronounced by the speaker. A space-themed word game and a “Concentration”-style matching game inject some extra fun into your study time.

Recent changes to Quizlet mean that you are now required to sign in to use the flashcard sets. As Quizlet is now promoting two premium plans — the modestly priced “Quizlet Plus” and the less-expensive “Quizlet Go” — you may encounter several promotions for these paid versions. We have not tried the paid tier at this time.

Overall, Quizlet can be a fun, effective way to learn new vocabulary. It has the tools to help with auditory comprehension and spelling in your target language. It covers many languages, even some harder-to-find ones. However, not all of the flashcard sets are high quality.

Visit Quizlet

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.