TeacherOn Mini Review: Lots of Teachers for Indian Languages
Classes from 50¢ to $80 per hour
Classes from 50¢ to $80 per hour
Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo
My Language Exchange has been growing since 2000. Although the website seems out of date, it still has an active community of millions of language-learners who speak almost 200 native languages (including less commonly studied languages). You can choose a pen pal by reading their bios, or there is a chat room available for you to instantly connect with a language exchange partner — note that if you create a Gold account, you can initiate chats with other users, but as a regular user, you will have to wait to be contacted. Using the Cormier Method, the website provides tools to help intermediate speakers effectively practice with other learners. It advertises a Chat Companion with lesson plans to accompany your exchange, or lesson plans developed by teachers (although the quality of these resources varies drastically). You can also find language teachers on the site, but given that the transactions take place directly between you and the teacher, you may feel safer using a 3rd party platform like italki or Verbling. Although there are outlines on how to participate in language exchanges, how these outlines are followed depends entirely on you and your partner(s). My Language Exchange will help you build connections with other learners, but it’s up to you to plan how to practice. The concepts can also be used with any language exchange platform, such as Lingbe, italki, Tandem, and Amikumu.
Although Lexilogos seems to have entirely neglected its aesthetics, it holds more than meets the eye. If you click on one of the 130+ languages listed at the bottom of the page, you will find a series of resources to support your studies. This is especially useful for less-studied languages, like Marathi, Basque, and Pashto. Although the lists don’t provide recommendations for applications, they do provide a list of dictionaries, keyboards, news sites, books, and research papers. Additionally, if you switch to the French version of the site, there are even more languages and resources available for you to explore. Within each language’s page, there is also a dictionary search function. You will notice that more commonly studied languages will have dozens of dictionaries to choose from, while less commonly studied languages may only have one or two. Overall, Lexilogos is a great option for finding resources for less commonly studied languages. They regularly update their site, so make sure to check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for the first time around.
Free; watch an ad or pay to unlock some themes
Alter Gyan’s apps set out to teach you essential words and phrases in 13 different Indian languages. The series include Learn Hindi Quickly, Learn Punjabi Quickly, and Learn Bengali Quickly. What makes it even better is the fact that you can learn from other common Indian, East Asian, and European languages – not just English. Although Alter Gyan (also called Altergyan) has also made apps for European and East Asian languages, we can’t recommend them. Our score is solely for the apps for the Indian languages. This is because the biggest selling point of these apps is the variety of languages for which, frankly, there aren’t always many resources. When you open the app, you can view word lists for over 30 themes. You can drill them with flash cards, take multiple-choice quizzes, and even record yourself speaking and listen back. If you can find your language on something like uTalk (review), Ling (review), Simply Learn Languages (review), or Vocly (review), we would recommend studying with those apps instead. We find them more effective, engaging, and comprehensive. However, if these apps aren’t an option, or if you want to learn from Tamil or Telugu, Alter Gyan’s Learn Quickly apps could help you memorize basic words and phrases for essential situations.
Free – and ad-free, too!
With the Kannada Alphabet app from Bhasha.io, you’ll practice pairing the Kannada character to the right transliteration. It makes heavy use of audio files. However, it doesn’t teach you how to write the script, so you’ll need to pair it with another app such as Kannada101 or practice on your own. It could be further improved with a record yourself or speaking option. We also feel it could do with more quizzes and drilling, especially as you move into later lessons. The app is divided into 11 different sections, each one teaching you 4–5 characters. The quizzes are built into the sections and test you on the characters from the same section and the one before. In other words, Vowels – Part 3 will drill you on the material from Vowels – Part 3 and Vowels – Part 2 but not Vowels – Part 1. We found ourselves quickly forgetting characters from earlier sections and mixing them up. Bear in mind that you also have to provide an email address in order to use the app.
Master Any Language has a counterintuitive interface with activities that are frustrating to navigate. Its only perk is that it supports less-studied languages, but even if you do find yourself lacking resources in your target language, this website will probably detract from your learning. You will jump through hoops trying to find the audio recordings by native speakers, so you may want to try ilovelanguages or Learn101 instead; they have low ratings, but they won’t make you lose your motivation to learn altogether. Most of the activities on Master Any Language are matching games that require you to click on two identical characters, words, or letters: the purpose of this is unclear because it tests neither recall nor recognition. Another activity asks you to form or match nonsensical sequences of words (Ex. Find the sentence identical to “el el el el tchèque tchèque tchèque el el tchèque tchèque”….). Ultimately, you would probably be better off trying to decipher a page of text with absolutely no guidance than to even attempt to wrap your head around MAL’s activities.
Tatoeba is a sentence-focused reference dictionary, not word focused. Therefore, by searching for a word in any language, you are searching for examples of that word in context. The site is community-driven, but you don’t have to be multilingual to contribute to the site — it needs native-speaking writers to expand the example database and proofread user sentences. All of the translations are interconnected: even if there is technically no direct translation from Zulu to Chinese, an English translation for the same sentences in both languages will provide direct translations between them. Although Tatoeba supports about 388 languages, about 200 of these languages have less than 100 sentences, and about 58 have less than 10. Nevertheless, the database is continuously growing, and with more community members, the less common languages may have a chance to develop further. It is prohibited to use a translation tool or copyrighted sentences to contribute to the translation database. Unfortunately, some contributors write in a language in which they are not proficiently fluent. As a result, the site has grammatical mistakes and sentences that don’t sound natural. You may have to do some digging to figure out if the contributor is a native speaker or not. Because of the potential user errors on the site, you may want to check out WordReference, Pleco, SpanishDict, Kanji Study , and Linguee to find words in context for more commonly studied languages.
Kannada Baruthe contains 13 thematic word and phrase lists, going from colors and fruits to talking to a maid or personal driver. It has some very specific and useful phrases, such as “I have a bag,” “give me a paper bag,” and “sorry, I do not have change.” Finding trustworthy and relevant word lists can be challenging, so we can see how Kannada Baruthe would be a useful app. Yet you’ll have to exit the app to drill the vocabulary. There are no quizzes, games, or flash card systems built into it. What’s more, while each word comes with an audio recording, they aren’t written in the Kannada script. We feel that there are better options out there for learning Kannada, such as Kannada Kalike (reviewed here), KannadaGottilla (reviewed here), Learn Kannada from bhasha.io (reviewed here), or even uTalk (reviewed here). Alternatively, if you do decide to use Kannada Baruthe, we recommend adding the word lists to Anki or a similar flashcard app so you can drill and memorize them.
Freemium; one-off payment of $1.30 for full access
Kannada 101, Tamil 101, Telugu 101, Marathi 101, Bengali 101: these are just some of the apps from developer Uma Loganathan. You can also download Arabic 101, Vietnamese 101, and even English 101 and German 101. If you’re learning these languages, though, we’d take a look at Write Me instead. We feel that the Write Me app is generally a more well-designed option, especially since it also tests you on your ability to match the right character to an audio recording. However, the Write Me app barely has any Indian languages, and that’s where the 101 series shines. You’ll be able to trace the characters; switch between easy, normal, and freestyle modes; and receive a score out of 100. The stroke order and direction are clearly explained. Whenever you make a mistake, you receive instant feedback: the music stops and the “ink” stops flowing. This allows you to self-correct immediately, rather than practicing it wrong. The series has its flaws: like with most apps, you won’t learn how to join up characters. However, we think it’s a useful tool for beginners.
Learn 101 is almost identical to iLanguages; they have the same native speaker audio files, languages, and mostly identical ‘lesson’ layouts. The main differences are that Learn 101 seems to have added some grammar explanations and reformatted a bit, while iLanguages seems to have added some extra phrases. Since every one of the languages’ “lessons” has the exact same format, including the grammar section, you will learn how to say ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘or’, in 107 languages, but you will not learn where these types of words fit within a specific language’s sentence structure. Every page is just a list of words with a translation (and sometimes an IPA symbol transliteration). This site could be used if you want to hear native speakers pronounce basic words in very rare languages, or if you want to look up the IPA symbols of a rare language’s alphabet — otherwise, you’re probably better off making flashcards yourself on Anki or trying one of the hundreds of other resources we recommend on this site.