Icelandic

The Æ, B, and Ð of Learning Icelandic at Home

Icelandic isn’t the world’s most common language, but it is beautiful, fascinating, and worth the effort to learn. It will let you travel around one of the most beautiful countries on Earth (no, that’s not just my opinion), read Viking-era sagas and award-winning modern novels, and perhaps most importantly of all, make Icelandic friends.

Yet one of the hardest things about learning Icelandic can be finding the right resources to use. So, read on as we explore the language courses, apps, textbooks, podcasts, YouTube channels, and more that will help you master this beautiful language.

We’ll also break down Icelandic grammar, explore whether this language really deserves its difficult reputation, and give you some tips for creating your study plan.

(more…)

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.

Visit Instant Immersion

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.

italki Review – The Good, The Bad, & The Just Alright

Quick Review

4.5 

Summary:

italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule.

Teacher Quality

You’ll find everyone from long-time professionals to brand new teachers.

Platform

The overall platform has tons of useful features but also some room for improvement.

Value

Huge number of teachers, low prices, and flexible scheduling.

Price

The prices vary by teacher and language with some being as low as $4 and others as high as $60 per hour. Most will fall somewhere near the $10 per hour range.

(more…)

Sublearning Mini-Review: There Are Better Uses For Your Time

Sublearning – 1.3 

Sublearning is a very simple website that supposedly helps you learn languages through movie subtitles. You will be presented with 1 to 6 lines of subtitles from your chosen movie, and then you can reveal the translation after thinking about the response.

There are 62 source and target languages, which does make one wonder where the translations are coming from; be wary of Sublearning’s translation quality.

Just to clarify, the subtitles do not seem to be sourced from the most iconic phrases from your favourite movies; rather, they seem to be random lines from the movie, sometimes as simple as “I don’t think so”. If you’re just looking to reminisce about anything that was said in movies you have seen, you can go to Sublearning to pass some time. However if you’re interested in language learning, I recommend checking out some of the many resource reviews we have on this site.

Visit Sublearning

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

Bluebird Languages Mini-Review: Over 160 Languages Available

Bluebird Languages – 3.5 

Bluebird Languages has several types of lessons you can choose from, including a daily lesson, core vocabulary, essential verbs, creating sentences, powerful phrases, and conversation. Each topic seems to have a beginner, intermediate, and advanced lesson, although it’s not clear how advanced “advanced” is.

In each lesson, an English-speaking narrator will ask you to listen to and repeat translations of various phrases. The recordings in each language seem to use native speakers’ voices, which is quite the feat considering they have lessons in over 160 languages.

Bluebird Languages’ phrases don’t construct a replicable dialogue, so the phrases don’t seem to have a lot of context other than the topic at hand. Furthermore, the topics seem to be identical in all languages, so most of the phrases will not be culture-specific. They also don’t break down complicated pronunciation, but you can try to break it down yourself by slowing down the recording to 0.5x speed.

Bluebird Languages seems similar to Pimsleur but appears less organized and will probably not improve your communication abilities as quickly. Nevertheless, it may be a good free alternative for beginners, and the program will probably help you develop some confidence in speaking languages that have less challenging pronunciation. The conversation and personalized lessons require a monthly membership, but there is enough free content that these add-ons may not be necessary.

Visit Bluebird Languages

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

LingoHut Mini-Review: Good Intentions, So-So Follow Through

lingohut – 3 

Kendal and Philipp, the creators of the LingoHut, are passionate about teaching languages; they hope to pave “a new way to experience a language through the culture that formed it”. Their resources supposedly help A1 and A2 language learners develop their confidence in listening and pronunciation. All audio clips were recorded by native speakers so that beginners can get accustomed to natural pronunciation, and each lesson has a series of matching games for listening comprehension and reading.

Unfortunately, the creators’ genuine intention to support beginners doesn’t seem to translate into their lessons. There is no section to learn the script of languages such as Korean, Hindi, or Arabic, nor are there transliterations to help beginners sound out the pronunciation. Some lessons also randomly switch between formal and informal language without explanation, which would not be intuitive for an A1 learner.

Additionally, although they contain a bank of useful phrases, the lessons are not adapted to each language’s culture; each of the 50 languages use the exact same set of sentences and lesson formats. This means that you will learn how to say ‘dumpling’ both in Chinese and Italian.

If you want a free resource to listen to native speakers’ pronunciation of hundreds of common phrases, LingoHut is definitely a free option. However, there are other resources that can help you learn languages more effectively.

Visit lingohut

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

Mímir Mini-Review: A Limited but Useful Icelandic Grammar

Mímir – 3.5 

Struggling to remember how to conjugate vera or if there’s a difference between the indicative and subjunctive future perfect middle voice? While Mímir isn’t designed to teach you Icelandic, the self-styled “grammar notebook” acts as a fairly comprehensive but succinct reference guide. Dip into it if there’s something you’ve forgotten; if you’re still confused, check your textbook.

Visit Mímir

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

Alaric Hall’s Icelandic for Beginners Mini-Review

Alaric Hall Icelandic for Beginners – 4 

This free 16-hour audio course, which comes with accompanying Memrise courses and grammar guides, prioritizes getting you to create your own sentences over the rote memorization of basic phrases. You listen along as university professor Alaric Hall teaches two students beginner-level Icelandic from scratch. The audio clips are bite-sized and have a strong focus on pronunciation.

Visit Alaric Hall Icelandic for Beginners

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

Viltu læra íslensku? Mini Review: Icelandic Classes on TV

Viltu læra íslensku? – 3.5 

This 21-episode TV program is free to watch online and designed to teach you basic Icelandic. The 20-minute videos start off with a fictional event: a visiting guest, a trip to the dentist, or perhaps a ride on the bus… Then the show moves to the classroom, where a teacher breaks down the language and drills it with students. It’s entirely in Icelandic, meaning it’s better suited to upper beginner and intermediate students.

Visit Viltu læra íslensku?

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