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.
The lessons are very well structured and the new app works great
Pimsleur primarily focuses on oral language at the expense of grammar.
The new subscription cost is very affordable.
The lessons focus on oral language which gets students speaking right away.
The lessons are very active. You’re constantly being prompted and need to produce the language you’re learning.
The lessons build upon each other exceptionally well with previously learned material constantly being reinforced.
The app is well designed with lots of beautiful images and interesting cultural notes.
I Don’t Like…
The lessons aren’t terribly exciting.
The written language is much more of an afterthought and not heavily featured in the lessons.
The practice activities included in the premium plan aren’t particularly well done.
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.
Summary: Memrise is one of the most popular language learning apps around. It’s basically a gamified flashcard app. It’s a good way to help build vocabulary and beginner students would benefit the most from it. While it can be very useful, it’s important to not try to use it as your main tool for learning a new language.
The app is extremely well designed, but courses are user-made, so quality can vary.
There are courses covering tons of topics, but you’ll need to use additional resources.
Free and very useful. Awesome!
I Like It uses spaced-repetition software making it easy to learn new words and review them periodically. It’s a bit more fun than traditional flashcard apps. There are tons of different courses to choose from.
I Don’t Like I personally prefer other flashcard apps that are less gamified (Anki or Pleco for Mandarin). It should be used with other resources, not in isolation.
Price: It’s free. The Premium Plan costs $9 per month or $59 per year.
Summary: FluentU is a popular platform for language learning that uses real world videos. They take videos from Youtube and add interactive captions. I really like the idea and design of the platform, but there’s a major lack of interesting content. Most videos last under one-minute long with a huge number being commercials. For me, FluentU falls far short of its potential.
The lesson library and video player have a great design. Unfortunately, example sentences use text-to-speech instead of native recordings.
Most videos are too short, disconnected to others, and not very interesting.
FluentU is fairly expensive and not worth the cost.
It’s great to be able to more easily use real-world videos to study a language.
A subscription gives you access to all of the languages.
The picture dictionary is pretty cool and something I haven’t seen elsewhere.
I Don’t Like…
The vast majority of the content is very short and is often commercials. It isnt really possible to watch longer series or shows.
There’s no benefit to watching beginner level content on FluentU compared to watching on Youtube because the creator will have already explained the topic clearly.
The audio lessons are the same as the video lessons, but without video. Few people will get any benefit from these.
Price: The Basic plan costs $15/month or $10/month if you pay for a year up-front. The Plus plan costs $30/month or $20/month if billed annually.
Summary: Busuu is one of the most popular language learning courses around but it’s not worth paying for. The course content isn’t designed very well and there are better free alternatives. I do really like Busuu’s social features that make it easy to have your speech and writing corrected by a native speaker, but that part is free.
Busuu’s platform is well designed but their lessons aren’t.
The content of their courses leaves a lot to be desired.
Other free apps teach languages better.
The language exchange part of the app is awesome and free to use. It’s really easy to get your speech or writing corrected.
They use video and picture prompts to help you think of a topic to write or talk about.
I Don’t Like…
The lesson structure has you learn some obscure vocabulary before learning the essentials.
You can find better courses for free.
A lot of important things like pronunciation and grammar are left out or barely explained.
Price: A subscription to Busuu costs $9.99/month or $69.99/year.
Languages: Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, and English
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.
Professional teachers that have to submit an application
Doesn’t use Skype for lessons
Cheaper than most options, but more expensive than italki
I Like Teachers are experienced and professional. No need to deposit money or buy credits first. Can simply pay one lesson at a time. Also has many payment options including Bitcoin. Well designed platform that makes booking lessons easy.
I Don’t Like Lessons are more expensive compared to italki. Far fewer teachers to choose from compared to italki. Fairly expensive if you’re only looking for conversation practice.
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.