Khmer (Cambodian)

Vocly Mini-Review: Expand Your Vocabulary in Less Common Languages

Vocly – 3 

Vocly is a vocabulary learning app that uses a couple of different techniques to reinforce new words (although it’s unclear whether or not the app uses an SRS system). Each word comes with audio pronunciation by native speakers and a toggle to either reveal or hide the romanization of the word. As with most of Simya Solution’s apps, Vocly is best for languages with fewer available resources.

Instead of using English translations in the flashcard activities, the app will prompt you to associate the new word with a small picture. On one hand, this will help you make fewer translations into your native language. On the other hand, the pictures can be ambiguous and you may forget what they symbolize.

The flashcard activities include matching activities, identifying new words that fit under a specific category, matching the sound of a word to an image, and asking you to spell the word in the language’s script.

Unfortunately, the free version only allows 7 minutes of learning per day, which can feel rushed. Ling is a more comprehensive option for learning multiple facets of a language, but if your goal is to expand your vocabulary, Vocly has over 1600 words. The paid version is quite expensive for what it offers compared to other resources, but for less common languages it is a fun and interactive option.

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Simply Learn Mini-Review: Spaced Repetition Phrases For Travelers

Simply Learn – 3 

In Simply Learn, by Simya Solutions, you can search for and review over 1000 phrases in over 30 categories. It takes the typical phrasebook app one step further by allowing you to add your favorite phrases to SRS flashcards. Given that its developers also developed Ling, an additional, more comprehensive resource that supports language learning, it seems that Simply Learn is a supplementary app for individuals who need to learn basic phrases for traveling abroad. 

The creators don’t seem to have intended for people to use this app to learn a language in its entirety, but rather to support them in memorizing basic phrases for travel. As with Simya Solutions’ other apps, Simply Learn is most helpful for less commonly learned languages, such as Hokkien and Khmer.

Beginners can access the basic cards for free, but the advanced traveler will have to make a one-time purchase to access all the content. If what you truly want is to have a set of phrases under your belt, Simply Learn’s SRS flashcards and native-speaker audio can support you. However, if you are studying a less commonly learned language and want to understand the basic sentence patterns and writing system, check out Ling.

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

FSI Courses Mini-Review: Free, Comprehensive, but Also Outdated

FSI Courses – 4.7 

The Foreign Services Institute developed their language courses to help diplomats quickly reach professional working proficiency in a language. They would attend 5 hours of language instruction per day, plus homework, for 24-88 weeks (depending on the language). The table at the bottom of this page indicates the average time it would take for a student to reach professional working proficiency.

The FSI program places a strong focus on listening comprehension, in addition to extensive exercises for grammar and vocabulary. If you follow along with the audio and respond to the prompts in each drill, you will also develop confidence in speaking the language.

With hundreds of pages of text, dozens of hours of audio, and several levels in many languages, the FSI courses are still probably the most comprehensive, free courses you can follow. Just remember that they are decades old, so the audio is not very clear and the vocabulary often includes both sexist and obsolete language. Also, some of the topics will not be relevant to your everyday life.

Several sites host these free, open-source courses, but the site linked below is organized and easy to navigate. Beware of any site selling courses “originally made for diplomats,” as these are probably free FSI courses with a price tag.

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Forvo Mini-Review: Audio Pronunciation of Millions of Words

Forvo – 4.8 

Forvo’s mission is to improve spoken communication across cultures. Anyone can explore pronunciations of millions of words in over 390 languages with maps displaying where each speaker is from. The site also organizes popular categories and essential phrases for when you don’t have a specific word in mind.

As a registered user, you can contribute to the site by pronouncing words or phrases in your native language or by requesting pronunciations in a specific language. You are also encouraged to vote on audio files in your native language to help others identify the best pronunciation. For those of you who enjoy using Anki, Forvo allows you to download mp3 files to use in your learning endeavours.

Forvo also has an e-learning course for French, Spanish, and English; you will find three levels and a group of topics with sets of the most common words in your target language. Using an SRS flashcard system, you will be able to learn the pronunciation of these words and view an example of how to use them in a sentence.

If you are looking for a pronunciation reference guide, look no further than Forvo’s extensive database!

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Write Me Mini-Review: Learn Basic Scripts

Write Me – 3.2 

Write Me seems to be a decent app to learn different scripts, especially for lesser studied languages like Bulgarian and Khmer. Each character in a given script is accompanied by a sample word that contains those characters. You will watch an animation of the proper stroke order before having the opportunity to write by yourself. Later you will be quizzed in various formats to help you retain what you have learned.

Write Me seems to support the act of writing and recognizing individual characters — however, similar to Write It! and Scripts by Drops, it doesn’t seem to give much background about each script. You won’t learn that Korean Hangul consists of morphosyllabic blocks, or that its consonants are pronounced differently at the beginning of a word than in the middle. You also won’t learn that Khmer stacks consonant clusters, or that you are writing Hebrew cursive script but receiving a print script prompt (which gets confusing without a little research).

You can test out Write it! (free), Write Me (paid lifetime access), and Scripts by Drops (monthly or lifetime access) to see which app best suits the language you are learning. For more comprehensive apps, check out Eggbun for Korean or Skritter for Chinese and Japanese.

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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 current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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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Brainscape Mini-Review: Adaptive Flashcards

Brainscape – 4.5 

Brainscape is a flashcard app that uses a Spaced Repetition System, also often referred to as ‘adaptive flashcards’, to help you memorize new vocabulary and facts. It has a team of scientists, engineers, and education experts working to optimize their program for effective learning.

Brainscape is quite similar to Anki, but has a more modern and colourful interface. They also have Certified Classes, which are decks that seem to have been developed by experts in the chosen topic. The app adds what they call Intelligent Cumulative Exposure (ICE) to some of their Certified Classes; it seems to combine a Spaced Repetition System with gradually introducing new concepts, increasing the difficulty of the concepts, and providing context so you can build your own sentences.

It has several Certified Classes for various languages (and other topics), and many more decks created by users. Unlike Anki, edits that creators make to user decks seem to sync up even after you have downloaded the deck.

With the free version, you have limited access to premium decks but unlimited access to user-made decks.

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The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Ling Review — Gamified Practice in Less Common Languages

Quick Review

3.2 

Summary

Ling is a gamified language-learning app with courses on over 60 different languages. Practice happens through short themed lessons, making for convenient and entertaining study time. It isn’t the most comprehensive resource out there, especially for more popular languages, but it can make a decent way to get started with a less common language.

Quality

The app is easy to use and visually appealing, but I found some mistakes in the material.

Thoroughness

There aren’t many explanations, and the materials are the same for each language, but practice is varied.

Value

For many of its less common languages, there aren’t a lot of viable alternatives, but the price feels high.

Languages

Over 60 languages, including less common ones like Thai, Tagalog, Serbian, Nepali, Albanian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Finnish, and Khmer.

Price

Monthly $8.99
Annual $43.99
Lifetime $119.99

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LangCorrect: Unlimited, Free Writing Practice With Feedback

LangCorrect – 5 

LangCorrect is a free community-driven writing site where users can both contribute to editing others’ work and receive feedback on their own writing.

After writing your piece, you may submit it to receive feedback from other site users. In order to ensure accurate feedback, multiple users can cross-check the corrections that were made and add comments.

Volunteers and Patrons have access to writing in up to 10 languages, but typical users can write in a maximum of two languages at a time. Everyone is encouraged to both write and correct others’ work on the site.

If you are looking to improve your writing skills in one of the over 100 languages available, trying out this resource is a must! However, if you’re studying a less common language and not finding many users to give you corrections, consider trying the exercise section in italki’s community features.

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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.