Irish

Memrise Review – Useful But Don’t Overuse It

Quick Review

Summary

Memrise is a super popular language-learning app available online and on mobile. It functions much like a gamified flashcard app, and it offers a lot of content for free. A lot of the content is user-created, and there is a premium subscription that provides access to additional features. Memrise can be a great tool in your arsenal, but you’ll need more to learn a language seriously.

Quality

The mobile app looks great and is easy to use, but the website is clunky. Works very well for memorization.

Thoroughness

There are quite a few official Memrise courses, and the number of user-created courses is massive, but you’ll benefit from using additional resources.

Value

The free version of the app provides a lot of value, but the paid version doesn’t offer much more.

Languages

There are currently official Memrise courses for 21 languages.

Among others, these include: Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Russian.

If you count the user-generated courses, the list of languages is nearly endless.

Price

For the full version of Memrise, the subscription prices are:

$8.99/monthly
$59.99/annually
$99.99 – lifetime subscription

Signing up for a free account with Memrise automatically gives you access to limited versions of their official courses.

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uTalk Review – Learn Set Phrases But Not A Language

Quick Review

3.2 

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.

Price

$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.

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Living Language Online Course Review – Not Very Good

Quick Review

2.7 

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.

Price

An annual plan costs $150, and half a year costs $75. Three months is $50 and 1 month is $39.

Languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Dothraki, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, and Vietnamese

An Overview of Living Language

Living Language offers you the opportunity to choose between over 20 languages. Once you pick your language, you’re taken to the home screen which has options for Essential, Intermediate, and Advanced categories. You can start with any of these options and jump back and forth between them.

 

After making your choice, you’ll start with Lesson 1.

Each lesson will include flashcards all related to a specific topic, such as food or clothing. The flashcards will feature the word in your chosen language beside a picture, and if you click on it, you can hear that word spoken. Once you complete the flashcards, you’ll move onto a grammar/vocab summary, followed by more flashcards.

Then, you’ll end the level by listening to a conversation and playing some games.

In truth, you can hop around these lessons as well, starting with the games and ending with Vocabulary 1 or 2. You can also hop in, listen to Vocabulary 2, and then switch to a different category entirely. Though the site provides a suggested order, it has no qualms with you following your own plan.

The number of lessons per category varies, as does the amount of words per level. Additionally, the games are worth certain percentage points, and your completion rate will go up as you work your way through them. You’ll also earn badges, medals, and stickers each time you beat a game.

However, as previously stated, simply beating a game doesn’t mean that you’re learning.

Getting Started with the Online Course

It’s fairly simple to get started with Living Language. Rather than sign up, you can opt for the free week option. I’d certainly suggest this option, as it will give you an idea of whether or not the site is right for you. However, it’s worth noting that the free version is limited to a few lessons from the Essential category.

After signing up, you can dive right into the learning materials. As previously stated, you can start with any category or level. You can even jump directly into the games. Of course, going in order makes the most sense for a beginner, and it might also be useful for someone more advanced; it can be hard to predict which lessons cover which words, and if you skip around, you might miss something important.

 

Lessons and Games

Assuming you attempt the lessons in order, the first lesson includes vocabulary flashcards on the topic of Greetings.

You can mark these cards as “Send to Mastered,” signifying that you know them fully. However, mastering a material doesn’t appear to change anything; it simply results in the word being removed from rotation. Once all the cards in a lesson are marked as Mastered, you have the chance to put them back in the rotation by choosing “Send to Study.”

After completing this vocab section, you’ll move onto reading material about the vocabulary and/or grammar you’ve learned. From there, you’ll listen to a conversation, which might bring in words you haven’t learned before. Oddly, the speaker’s gender doesn’t always match the speaker’s honorific (ex. a male speaker would sometimes speak for someone with the honorific Mademoiselle).

The games are definitely the most entertaining part of the site in my opinion.

There’s a large variety, including word searches, sentence builders, and fill in the blanks. You can also pop bubbles or answer multiple-choice questions in order to defeat a dragon.

At first, I enjoyed the games and felt like I was doing well with the material. However, after several rounds, the novelty of these games wore off. Additionally, it’s easy to guess the correct answers to several of the games, meaning you might win without really covering the material. I wasn’t trying to outsmart the games — I was simply trying to win them. In this case, winning has nothing to do with comprehension or retention; it simply meant I’d figured out the patterns.

My French knowledge is fairly basic, but I was able to complete several games in the Advanced category without reading any of the lessons beforehand.

If you complete a game with minimal errors, you’ll earn a gold badge. If you win with several errors, you’ll earn a silver or bronze badge. You’ll also earn a certain amount of percentage points, which appear on the home page under each category. And after multiple wins of the same game-type, you’ll start collecting badges.

Admittedly, I was curious to see what badges were available, and I think they work as a fun incentive. In this way, Living Language is kind of like a video game where you want to achieve 100% completion–but again, this isn’t necessarily helpful when trying to gauge your knowledge of the materials.

Once you finish your first grouping of lessons, you’ll move onto the next level, which will be based on a different subject. From there on, there’s not much variation in lesson set-up: it’s flashcards, a summary, a conversation, and games. It should also be noted that you have to click on the games yourself, or the lesson will simply skip them and move onto the next set of flashcards.

Oddly, some of the images don’t seem to align with the vocab. While I didn’t notice a ton of errors, it was enough to make me worry about the correctness of other translations, especially because of errors other users spotted.

 

Plans and Prices

Along with the monthly version, you can also purchase annual plans, 6-month plans, and 3-month plans. Value-wise, the 6-month plan and annual plan cost the same when looking at the price per month, whereas the 1-month plan is the most expensive and the 3-month plan falls somewhere between them.

A one month subscription costs $39, 3 months costs $50, 6 months costs $75, and 1 year costs $150.

Some languages don’t offer monthly versions, while others offer specialty courses for travel or specific occupations. For instance, Spanish lessons are available in Business for three-month increments at $60.

Furthermore, traditional book and CD sets are available at various price points. As I didn’t use these options, I can’t speak to their value, though reviews on Amazon are mixed.

Final Thoughts

Living Language provides several resources for language learning, including online courses, specialty courses, and CD/textbook options. While I can’t speak to all of these resources, the French Comprehensive course wasn’t very useful for me. The flashcards and grammar lessons are fairly basic, and the games, although fun at first, ultimately don’t reveal much about what you’ve learned.

Living Language could do more to take advantage of its online platform. The games and audio are a good start, but the site’s actual test value is missing. Additionally, while these resources could potentially be useful, there are cheaper options out there that offer more interactive features and in-depth explanations.

While I don’t think it will hurt your language learning efforts, I’d recommend looking at other resources first. As each language has different resources available, our top recommendations would depend on the language you’re studying. To find the ones we recommend, click on the language you’re learning below.

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Transparent Language Review – Their Courses Are Awful!

Quick Review

1.8 

Summary:

Transparent Language markets itself as “the most complete language-learning system for independent learners.” While there are lots of different exercises for you to work through in their Essentials Course, I thought that the material wasn’t all that helpful and that it got very repetitive. Although the courses might not be 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 that I found lacking.

Thoroughness

I hardly came across any explanations at all; practice was almost exclusively memorizing words and phrases.

Value

I would only consider using if it were free and I was studying a very rare language.

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.

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Michel Thomas Method Review – Avoid At All Costs

Quick Review

1.7

Summary:

One of the most famous language teaching courses out there, Michel Thomas is a household name. The platform advertises itself as “The method that works with your brain” and boasts a teaching method “with no books, exercises, memorizing or homework” in several of its course descriptions. It’s available in 18 languages with courses that have material suitable for absolute beginners. 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, and the audios are decent quality, but I found that Michel Thomas’ discouraging manner flustered students, which detracted from the content’s quality in my experience.

Thoroughness

In my opinion, 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 ruined the material for me.

Languages: Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Modern Standard), Dutch, French, Greek, German, Hindi, Italian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Price

There are several different courses available with prices ranging from $11.99 to $100.

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Rosetta Stone Review (Subscription) – Painfully Repetitive And Overpriced

Quick Review

2.3 

Summary:

One of the most famous language learning resources out there, the Rosetta Stone method uses immersive teaching, meaning 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 in my experience. While it isn’t a bad resource, you can almost certainly find something better.

Quality

Very easy to use and navigate, the content is well presented but for me the similar format becomes deadly boring after a while.

Thoroughnes

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.

Value

I think it’s not as good and more expensive than other resources.

Price

The price varies by subscription length:

$36 for 3 months
$179 for 12 months
$199 for Lifetime

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Pimsleur Review – Secret Subscription Option Is Much Cheaper

Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Pimsleur’s courses primarily focus on oral language. They are one of the biggest names in language learning but was something I had a hard time recommending to people in the past because of the insanely high prices.

They recently added a subscription model with much more reasonable prices and a new app that is much better designed. This review focuses on the new subscription model which isn’t yet available to the general public from the Pimsleur website but you can find it here.

I was really impressed with the quality of the lessons and now that the price is much better, I’m happy to recommend studying with Pimsleur.

Quality

The lessons are very well structured and the new app works great

Thoroughnes

Pimsleur primarily focuses on oral language at the expense of grammar.

Value

The new subscription cost is very affordable.

Price

A basic subscription costs $14.95 per month and a premium subscription costs $19.95 per month. This is a massive improvement over the old prices which cost as much as $550 for five levels.

You won’t find any information about this new subscription price on their website. The link below will take you to a page with more information on their subscription plans.

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Verbling Review – An Alternative to italki?

Quick Review

4.2 

Summary:

Verbling is a language learning platform where you can find and book classes directly from a teacher. It’s very similar to italki with a few minor differences. Unfortunately, on Verbling, the cost of lessons are generally higher and the number of teachers to choose from fewer. Still, it’s a fairly good option for finding a teacher.

Quality

Professional teachers that have to submit an application

Thoroughnes

Doesn’t use Skype for lessons

Value

Cheaper than most options, but more expensive than italki

Price

The cost of lessons varies depending on the teacher and the language. The average cost for an hour long Spanish class is $18, for French it’s $24, and for German it’s $31. There are many other languages available as well.

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Glossika Review – Overpriced But Fairly Useful

Quick Review

3.2 

Summary:

Glossika has learning resources for over fifty languages that impressively range from Armenian and Czech to Icelandic and Tagalog.

While not suitable for absolute beginners, lower intermediates could use the resource to familiarise themselves with sentences in their language of choice using Glossika´s intuitive approach.

Listening to native speakers and repeating what they say can help learners to improve their comprehension skills and spoken fluency.

While it is amazing that so many languages are included, learners would have to use numerous other resources alongside it. The cost is unjustifiably high.

Quality

The audio recordings are well made but other aspects could be improved

Thoroughness

Glossika covers an impressive number of languages but their method requires you to intuitively learn

Value

Polyglots may find the price to be fair but for most language learners it’s overpriced

Price

You can try out Glossika´s learning method for free with their week-long trial. The monthly subscription costs $30 a month. The annual subscription costs $24.99 a month and will set you back 299.88$ in total.

Click the link below to save $5 on a subscription to Glossika.

Alternatives: Speechling does much of what Glossika can do for free. In addition, for a lower monthly fee, you can get unlimited corrections on your pronunciation. Unfortunately, they offer far fewer languages compared to Glossika.

For those learning Italian, I’d recommend Ripeti Con Me. The course style is very similar to Glossika but it improves upon a lot of Glossika’s weaknesses.

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