Summary: uTalk is a software program and mobile app offering learning material in over 140 languages. Its approach is based on learning set keywords and phrases through gameplay. It covers a wide range of set phrases and offers pronunciation practice. It does not offer any in-depth language instruction or grammar.
uTalk is most useful for people who want to learn key phrases in a new language and aren’t interested in a more comprehensive understanding.
Quality The app is very user-friendly, and the content is mostly useful, but the features are limited.
Thoroughness The opportunities for focused practice are somewhat lacking.
Value The price is very low, and there’s a decent amount of content, but there are more time-efficient ways to learn.
I Like… The number of languages on offer is staggering.
Each phrase is recorded by a male and female native speaker. This was especially helpful in learning pronunciation.
You frequently get to hear recordings of yourself producing the language. I found this motivating and informative.
I Don’t Like… The Memory Game exercise felt like a waste of time. It’s difficult to get a perfect score even if you know the language well.
I kept wishing there was a way to choose which phrases I could practice in games instead of them being randomly selected.
I’m not a fan of learning a bunch of set phrases. I’d prefer some instruction related to grammar and sentence construction.
$2.99/month on a monthly basis and can be canceled at any time $1.67/month for a year-long subscription $1.00/month for a two-year subscription
*This is the price for the more popular languages like Spanish, German, Arabic, etc. Less common languages such as Afrikaans and Tibetan cost slightly more.
Summary: Living Language provides numerous learning materials for multiple languages, including complete and essential courses that come with textbooks and CDs. They also have specialty courses covering business, travel, and several jobs. However, their standard online version isn’t very practical, and it’s difficult to tell if you’re actually learning or simply going through the motions. While the resource might be useful for those who want access to a large vocab list with grammar reading materials, there are better, cheaper options.
Quality Though the information itself is useful, Living Language’s presentation reads more like a database than an educational/interactive tool.
Thoroughness Again, a lot of the information is there, but it’s scattered. Additionally, some of that information appears incorrect.
Value Cheaper options offer the same amount of content with more interactive features.
I Like You can hop around between levels and topics, including Beginner and Advanced materials.
The subscription comes with a grammar guide, glossary, and forum access.
There’s a decent variety of games, including some games I hadn’t played before.
I Don’t Like Although the games are fun, they get stale pretty quickly. It’s easy to guess at answers, thereby completing levels without really having learned.
The system doesn’t keep track of your mistakes, so it’s hard to know what areas you need to improve in.
I found several translation and presentation errors that made me question the rest of the material.
Price: An annual plan costs $150, and half a year costs $75. Three months is $50 and 1 month is $39.
Summary: The Transparent Language Essentials Courses aim to get absolute beginners engaged and interacting with the language they’re learning and speaking the basics in no time at all. While there are lots of different exercises for you to work through, the material isn’t all that helpful and it does get very repetitive. Although the courses aren’t all that useful or in depth, with over a hundred languages on offer it might be worth checking out if you want to learn the very basics of a more obscure language such as Buriat, Kazakh or Turkmen. But, even then, I’d try to find other resources first.
Quality While the exercises are for the most part well-designed, diverse and easy to use, it is the core material itself which is lacking.
Thoroughness There are hardly any explanations at all, you just have to endlessly memorize words and phrases.
Value I would only consider using if it were free and I was studying a very rare language.
I Like I really like the fact that they offer up courses in languages that are usually overlooked.
It’s pretty well-designed, easy to use and has lots of different activities to work through.
I Don’t Like The core material is severely lacking and you won’t learn much grammar or how to form even a basic sentence yourself.
It gets very repetitive and so I didn’t find it that fun to work through.
You learn virtually nothing about the different cultural contexts of the languages you’re learning.
Their teaching methodology is the biggest issue, leaving you memorizing lots of words and phrases in isolation.
Price: There is a free two-week trial period for you to try it out. Otherwise, it is $24.95 per month or $149.95 for a whole year if you just select one language. If you want access to all of the languages it is then $49.95 per month and $249.95 a year.
Summary: One of the most famous language teaching courses out there, Michel Thomas is a household name and his audio lessons aim to teach you your language of choice, naturally, intuitively and without any memorization involved. With 18 languages for you to choose from, the courses are aimed at absolute beginners and at the end you should be able to understand and speak to a basic level. I tried out the French foundation course and found it to be severely lacking and as such cannot recommend it at all. You may, however, have more luck with the other language courses that they offer.
Quality Very easy to use, the audios are decent quality but Michel Thomas’ discouraging manner means that students get flustered and this detracts from the content’s quality.
Thoroughness Michel Thomas doesn’t go into much depth and any explanations he offers up are just at a surface level.
Value I wouldn’t use these even if they were free due to Michel Thomas’ teaching style which ruins the material.
I Like Um…in all honesty I’m not sure if I enjoyed any of it!
I Don’t Like Michel Thomas never praises the students, often interrupts them and creates a negative learning environment.
The pacing of the lessons often seems off to me and in certain places they feel very hurried.
All of the lessons are almost identical and so it does get quite monotonous working through them.
Summary: One of the most famous language learning resources out there, the Rosetta Stone method relies on immersive teaching so students will only find the material in the language they’re learning. Starting off with the basics, the units get progressively harder and cover a large range of topics. Suitable for beginner and intermediate students, it is more expensive than competitors and the exercises get very repetitive after a while. While it isn’t a bad resource, you can definitely find something better.
Very easy to use and navigate, the content is well presented but the similar format becomes deadly boring after a while.
While a lot of material is covered, you have to infer everything from the pictures that you are given. As such, there are no explanations at all.
It’s not as good and more expensive than other resources.
It’s easy to use and navigate – the content is very clearly laid out.
The extra features in the ‘Extended Learning’ pack make the material a bit more interesting to engage with.
While it is not particularly fun to use overall, I do believe that learners would improve their language skills using Rosetta Stone.
I Don’t Like…
The main units are very repetitive and I think I would find it demoralising after a while if I kept using it.
It doesn’t explore the cultural context of the language at all.
There are no explanations about any of the content and so you have to infer the meaning of everything through pictures.
It’s too expensive.
Price: The price varies by subscription length:
$79 for 3 months $119 for 6 months $179 for 12 months $249 for 24 months