Malayalam

AmazingTalker

2.5 
Price: From around $10 per 50-minute class

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AmazingTalker is an italki and Verbling competitor that lets you book classes with language teachers and academic tutors of your choice. It has a lot of attractive features for students, but teachers complain about high commission rates and lack of support.

It boasts a 3% acceptance rate for teachers and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your class, they’ll rebook you another one for free. There are lots of teachers to choose from, or you can also use their AI Matching Service to find a tutor. The teachers’ profiles include videos, reviews, and their résumé.

However, AmazingTalker doesn’t seem a great choice for teachers. It charges English and Japanese teachers astonishingly high commission rates of up to 30%. While these rates fall as teachers earn more through the site, they have to make $1,500 a month before the commission reaches levels comparable to italki and Verbling. Making it worse, there’s an additional 8% fee for payment processing and tax that all teachers have to pay, no matter what language they teach. 

There have also been complaints on Reddit from teachers claiming to have been harassed by students and fellow teachers. However, we cannot corroborate these.

Given all this, we’d recommend trying italki (review) or Verbling (review) first. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best platforms for online language classes.

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TeacherOn

1.6 
Price: Classes from 50¢ to $80 per hour

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TeacherOn is an italki competitor that allows you to book online or in-person classes with language and/or academic tutors of your choice. It can attract scammers and the tutor quality seems hit or miss, but for some languages, it’s probably the only platform with available teachers.

The website started life as TutorIndia, and it still leans heavily towards Indian teachers. For example, it has around 4,500 Hindi teachers compared to italki’s 89. There are also over 300 Kannada teachers, 38 Assamese ones, and 42 Odia ones; in contrast, italk only has 4 teachers for Kannada and 0 for Assamese or Odia.

You can contact the first three teachers for free. After that, you can either post your requirements so that teachers can contact you or pay extra to contact more teachers.

However, you should be cautious when using the platform, especially if you’re paying off site or meeting your tutor in person. We were shown fake profiles, while TeacherOn publishes a list of people banned for being scammers. There are no student reviews, either. TeacherOn encourages students and teachers alike to do due diligence on people before contacting them, and we echo this sentiment.

TeacherOn has plenty of issues. However, for certain languages, it’s invaluable. It may be the only way to study some of them from abroad.

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Learning Malayalam: A Complete Self-Study Guide

View of Kerala beach and village with text saying your one-stop guide to learning Malayalam

Learning the Malayalam language might not be easy, but it’s worthwhile: it will help you explore the beautiful state of Kerala, make Malayali friends, and enjoy some of India’s best movies and books.

Since one of the hardest things about learning Malayalam is finding good resources, we’ve taken a look at the best courses, apps, textbooks, and more. Plus, we’ve listed some great movies, podcasts, and novels for intermediate and advanced Malayalam learners and provided tips for creating your own Malayalam study schedule.

So whether you’re moving to Kochi, planning a vacation, or simply want to speak to your Kerala-born partner in their native language, read on – we’re about to share everything you need to get started.

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Malayalam Aksharamala

Price: Free

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Malayalam Aksharamala is one of our favourite apps for learning the Malayalam script, but it’s far from perfect. Plus, you’ll have to put up with over-the-top audio, since it’s designed for young children.

Using Malayalam Aksharamala, you can select different symbols to practice drawing. The app will show you the stroke direction, although the stroke number and order can be confusing. (You might like to pair it with a workbook or the Malayalam Alphabets app to get this information.) We also found that it sometimes struggled to follow our strokes.

What we like about Malayalam Aksharamala, though, is that it includes audio recordings of the script and also gets you to practice choosing it from other similar-looking symbols. We think this practice will be invaluable in helping you to not just be able to draw the symbols but also distinguish them when reading.

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My Language Exchange

4.2 
Price: Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo

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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.

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Learn Malayalam with EliKutty

3.5 
Price: Free

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Learn Malayalam with EliKutty is a frequently updated YouTube channel that mixes one-minute Malayalam lessons with videos about “EliKutty”’s life with her Malayali husband.

EliKutty, aka Eliza Keyton, is an English teacher and US expat. While not a native speaker, her lessons have a pedagogical foundation and are easy to understand.

Her One Minute Malayalam series will help you learn things like different ways to say “no” or “give” and how to make conditional sentences. She also has a six-video series on how to learn the Malayalam script, which nicely explains the subtle differences in pronunciation.

The content can seem unstructured, so it’s not ideal for complete beginners. However, if you’re a beginner Malayalam student, you will likely find it a short-and-sweet way to supplement your studies.

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Malayalam Smart Slate

Price: Free with ads

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The Malayalam Smart Slate app from BigKnol aims to teach you the Malayalam script. Unfortunately, we don’t think you’re likely to learn much from using it.

When you open the app, you’ll be able to choose between Practice and Write. Under Practice, you can view the script, complete with audio recordings and occasional example pictures and words. There’s no actual practice involved, however.

Under Write, you can draw something and it will tell you which Malayalam symbol it thinks you’ve drawn. However, this doesn’t mean you’ve drawn it correctly: we found that even if you scribble on the screen, it will produce a symbol for you.

Unfortunately, this app seems to be missing a key stage: the one where it teaches you how to write the symbols. There’s no explanation of stroke number, order, or direction, nor do you get the opportunity to trace the symbols.

Save yourself some time, and try Malayalam Aksharamala or Malayalam Alphabets instead.

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Write Malayalam Alphabets

Price: Free

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Use the Write Malayalam Alphabets app to practice tracing the Malayalam script on your smartphone or tablet. Yet while we like the idea of learning on the go, this isn’t our first choice of app for learning the Malayalam alphabet.

The app won’t teach you stroke number, order, or direction. We found ourselves guessing at whether we should double back on our strokes to draw a symbol in one go, or whether we should stop and draw it in two or three strokes.

There isn’t an in-built quiz, either, and you can’t select which symbols you want to practice.

Write Malayalam Alphabets certainly isn’t the worst script-learning app we’ve come across, but we think there are better options available. Try Malayalam Aksharamala (reviewed here) instead.

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Malayalam Alphabets App (Times Hunt)

2.4 
Price: Free

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The Malayalam Alphabets App by Times Hunt left us with mixed feelings.

Let’s start with the positive: we think it’s a great way to practice writing the scripts. Unlike most apps, it teaches stroke number, order, and direction. This often isn’t intuitive, so apps that don’t break it down can leave you confused or with terrible handwriting. This app is also very child-friendly.

Here’s the negative: it doesn’t contain any audio recordings of the scripts. You’ll have great handwriting but you won’t know how to pronounce what you’re writing. There aren’t any quizzes, either, so you never get to practice writing independently.

There are also a few undeveloped ideas. For example, it teaches you some basic Malayalam vocabulary but doesn’t give you the option to practice writing them.

We would still use this app. However, we think it’s best used alongside Malayalam Aksharamala (review). Alternatively, purchase a workbook and just use Malayalam Aksharamala.

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Learn Malayalam Alphabets Audio

Price: Free

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The Learn Malayalam Alphabets Audio app from BigKnol is free and contains clear audio recordings. However, it’s not much use for learners.

When you open the app, you’ll be able to access “vowels” and “consonants.” Each option takes you to a list of Malayalam symbols. Press the audio button to hear a recording of one. Alternatively, you can press the lightbulb button to see a picture of a word that is written with that symbol – sometimes. At other times, it will tell you “Ho! No Example!”.

You don’t get to practice writing or even speaking the Malayalam script with this app, and there is no quiz or test, meaning that learning the symbols is up to you.

In short, we just don’t see the point in using this app. There are far better alternatives available, such as Malayalam Aksharamala or Malayalam Alphabets.

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