Japanese

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.

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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.

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.

Kanshudo Mini-Review: A Must-Have, And It’s Free!

kanshudo – 4.8 

Kanshudo is unique, diverse, thorough, and an overall fantastic resource for anyone wanting to train their reading skills in Japanese. This mini-review can only brush the surface of Kanshudo’s many features.

The program teaches beginner to advanced levels; there are a variety of activities to engage in, such as lessons, SRS flashcards, challenges, games, and reading. One of the many neat features of Kandusho is that the more you study, the more coupons you can earn to receive free Pro access.

Beginner lessons will introduce you to 5 new kanji, then reinforce your understanding of each kanji through several engaging activities. After completing 20 beginner lessons, you can tackle the next 1000 kanji and more complex vocabulary and grammar. You can take a kanji quiz whenever you like to determine roughly how many you have learned; the site will change its study recommendations based on your score. You can also use Kanshudo with your current textbook — many of the most common textbooks are supported.

In the Reading Corner you can find reading practice organized by level. In each text you can click the sentences to receive audio pronunciations, translations, grammar explanations, vocabulary explanations, and a breakdown of each of the kanji (including the radicals within the kanji and mnemonics to remember them).

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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.

Learn Japanese: Bunpo Mini Review: One-Stop Grammar Practice

Learn Japanese: Bunpo – 4.5 

Learn Japanese: Bunpo provides simple and clear grammar explanations from JLPT N5 to N1. The app is not intended to be used alone in order to become fluent in Japanese — rather, it is a support for those who want to have a better grasp of Japanese grammar. A good portion of each section is spent on quizzes to test your understanding (although some people may still find that they advance a bit too quickly).

There are some improvements that could be made, but overall Learn Japanese: Bunpo seems to be an effective resource for anyone who wants their grammar practice in one place.

Learners new to Japanese can enjoy a free introductory level that will provide you with a basic foundation of vocabulary, hiragana, and katakana. For N1-N5 learners, you can try the first section from each of the levels without making any purchases. The paid version includes SRS review, listening exercises, and chat functions with native speakers for support. You can choose to pay monthly, but the Lifetime option is more economical.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

FunEasyLearn Mini-Review: Build Vocabulary The Fun Way

FunEasyLearn – 3.2 

Not only does FunEasyLearn have a slick interface, high-quality recordings of native speakers, and a variety of activities to reinforce your learning, but it also allows you to learn from 61 mother tongues.

The lessons were developed by a team of certified linguists and acting teachers; they cover reading, listening, speaking and writing. You have the choice of learning individual vocabulary or common phrases, both of which navigate between various common categories such as “Describing people”, “General Conversation”, “ and “Transport”.

Unfortunately FunEasyLearn does not seem to provide a foundation for learning more challenging scripts, such as Chinese or Thai; luckily they have a special feature where you can choose to omit the writing aspect and see transliterations; this will allow you to focus on speaking and listening.

Ultimately, FunEasyLearn is a fun and easy way to develop some basic vocabulary, but it is probably not the most effective resource for hard-core language learners; you will need extra resources to help you learn conversational skills.

There is a lot of free content available for beginners, but with a super affordable premium membership you can access more levels and use the app offline.

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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.

Lingua Boost Mini-Review: Use Pimsleur Instead

Lingua Boost – 2.2 

Lingua Boost’s website presents a modern interface and emphasizes teaching everyday phrases in context. The lessons are about 10 minutes long; they are narrated by native speakers and focus on vocabulary within a specific topic. Although each lesson seems to contain something that resembles a dialogue, every phrase is spoken by the same person. Additionally, many of the lessons initially appear to be dialogues, but end up being a list of sentences. For example, the first line of a lesson might be, “what do you like to do?” followed by a series of statements such as “I like to read books,” or “I like to go swimming.”

Furthermore, for languages that have more difficult pronunciation, such as Russian and Hindi, the lessons do not break down pronunciation. In Pimsleur, for example, they use an excellent technique of working backward with each syllable in a word until you can say the whole word in one go. In Lingua Boost, it seems that you are expected to just listen and gradually catch on, even from the absolute beginner level.

Finally, each volume must be purchased separately, but you can test out the first 5 lessons for free on their website.

If you’re looking for a similar course that breaks down pronunciation, has interactive activities and helps you learn full dialogues in context, check out Pimsleur’s subscription plan.

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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.