Latin

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.

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.

Quizlet Mini-Review: A Flashcard/Quiz App for Many Languages

Quizlet – 3.2 

Quizlet is a flashcard-based learning system. Community-contributed flashcards are available for numerous languages. These vary in quality, but you can preview them to see how well they meet your needs.

Each set of flashcards powers other activities: In Learn mode, you demonstrate your mastery of each word or phrase by using multiple choice to select the correct definition. There are also spelling and writing exercises. The spelling exercises can be frustrating, as they sometimes require the addition of alternate word endings that are not always pronounced by the speaker. A space-themed word game and a “Concentration”-style matching game inject some extra fun into your study time.

Recent changes to Quizlet mean that you are now required to sign in to use the flashcard sets. As Quizlet is now promoting two premium plans — the modestly priced “Quizlet Plus” and the less-expensive “Quizlet Go” — you may encounter several promotions for these paid versions. We have not tried the paid tier at this time.

Overall, Quizlet can be a fun, effective way to learn new vocabulary. It has the tools to help with auditory comprehension and spelling in your target language. It covers many languages, even some harder-to-find ones. However, not all of the flashcard sets are high quality.

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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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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.

Lingua Latina Mini Review: Entertaining and Educational

Lingua Latina – 4.3 

The wildly popular Lingua Latina departs from traditional, grammar-heavy Latin teaching methods and instead teaches you through humorous stories about everyday Romans. Each chapter also contains a brief grammar section and some exercises. By the end of the first book, you are supposed to have picked up nearly 2,000 pieces of vocabulary and a basic understanding of beginner-level grammar.

See on Amazon

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

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 rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Dino Lingo Mini-Review: Use As A Last Resort

Dino Lingo – 2 

Dino Lingo is a language learning program for children, consisting of videos and games that they can play independently at home. Dino Lingo recommends their program for children between the ages of 2 and 12, but based on the video lessons available for testing, kids over 8 will probably not find it engaging.

The videos will fully immerse your child in the language, with audio pronunciation and spelling in the target language. The main characters are dinosaurs, but each lesson also consists of both live and animated clips that illustrate vocabulary words. The clips are probably effective at introducing new vocabulary to children, however, it’s possible that the children may misunderstand the meaning of the new words based on how incoherent the images are. At one point they may think they are learning “the dog is being vacuumed”, but in fact they are learning “this is a dog.”

If you are looking for a program to support your child in learning a language but can’t find anything else, they will probably learn something from DinoLingo. However, it does not seem like a high-quality program and is also not without several editing errors. You can try a 7-day free trial before investing in it, or try out some cheaper options like Duolingo Kids or Gus On The Go.

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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.

Learning Latin Made Simple(r): A Self-Study Guide

Latin: it’s the language of the Roman Empire, the bedrock of many modern languages, and essential to European history and culture. Wander through any large city in Europe, and you’re likely to come across Latin on monuments and in mottos. Flick through a book or a newspaper, and you might see it: status quo, alter ego, carpe diem, quid pro quo, ad hoc, alibi, bonafide…

Yet while learning Latin can unlock our past, it has a reputation for being, well, difficult. Dry. Exclusive.

This reputation isn’t entirely fair. No language is easy to learn, but using the right resources and having a good study plan can make learning Latin more accessible and enjoyable. Keep reading as we explore the many courses, apps, podcasts, books, and YouTube channels that will help you learn this fascinating language.

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Assimil Review — A Fresh Look at a Longstanding Resource

Quick Review

Summary

Assimil is a French company that has been selling language-learning resources since 1929. Assimil materials are available as books, CDs, and downloadable e-courses; there are a variety of available course types, and instruction is based on interacting with phrases in the target language. The popular Sans Peine or, With Ease, courses are for absolute or false beginners that would like to reach the B2 level, but we think you’ll need to incorporate some other study materials to make this happen.

Quality

The language materials are reliable, the audio is high quality, and the program is fairly easy to use after a bit of practice.

Thoroughness

Assimil is chock-full of explanations and thorough translations for all material, but you might need more to reach the advertised B2 level.

Value

There are cheaper resources out there, but Assimil provides super solid instruction for the price.

Languages

The majority of courses are for speakers of French, but instruction is available in 13 different source languages.

English speakers can find the popular With Ease courses in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. There are also phrasebooks and writing courses for a variety of other languages like Japanese, Chinese, and Russian.

Price

Prices vary by course. The Spanish e-course is €47.30, the Spanish With Ease book (no audio) is €25.50, and the Spanish With Ease Superpack is €71

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