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Pashto

Tatoeba Mini-Review: A Community Writing Sentences in Context

Tatoeba

Rating 3.3
Price:

Free

Summary

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.

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iLanguages Mini-Review: Almost Identical to Learn 101

ilanguages

Rating 1.3
Price:

Free

Summary

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.

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Learn101 Mini-Review: A Re-Formatted Version of iLanguages

learn101

Rating 1.3
Price:

Free

Summary

Learn 101 is almost identical to iLanguages, but neither of them seem to be very helpful; 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 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. Although there are examples of various grammatical structures, the explanations for these structures are also identical for every language, which, practically speaking, doesn’t seem plausible. This site could be useful if you want to hear native speakers pronounce basic words in less-common languages, or if you want to look up the IPA symbols of a less-common 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.

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Forvo Mini-Review: Audio Pronunciation of Millions of Words

Forvo

Rating 4.8
Price:

Free

Summary

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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Anki Mini-Review: The Go-To SRS Flashcard App

Anki

Rating 4.1
Price:

Free

Summary

It is the go-to app for free (except on iOS) Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards. It has a simple user interface with various features that more hard-core users can dive into if they choose. Your flashcards will appear according to your natural forgetting curve; the app will test you in increasingly spaced out intervals, with more difficult cards appearing more than once in a session, while easier cards spacing out over weeks — or even months and years. An SRS system is the most effective way to drive information into your long-term memory. The cards can sync between the web, desktop app, and mobile versions to keep your flashcards updated and with you at all times. You can add images and audio clips to your cards and change the text formatting (if you use it on your computer). One feature unique to Anki, as opposed to other SRS flashcard apps, is the “Cloze deletion” function, which allows you to block out parts of your card and create a “fill-in-the-blanks” type card format. If you want a resource for how to make effective flashcards, check out the book, FluentForever. The author leaves a whole section dedicated to understanding how to use your Anki deck to advance your skills quickly.

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Encore!!! Language Learning Mini-Review: Basically a Phrasebook

Encore!!! Language Learning

Rating 1.5
Price:

Free

Summary

Encore!!! Language Learning allows you to listen to playlists of common phrases, vocabulary, conjugations, and dialogues. It varies in terms of whether it uses native speakers or automated text-to-voice. The app is basically a phrasebook that allows you to practice translating sentences to and from your native language, or simply repeat after an audio in your target language. You can listen to a pre-made playlist, mute or unmute certain phrases within a playlist, adjust the number of repetitions of each phrase, or create your own playlist. You can also test your memory with the Test tool by reading prompts in your native language and translating into your target language. The app seems to focus more on understanding grammar structures than other phrasebook sites like Optilingo or Lingohut. Technically you could learn something by repeating the phrases aloud, but there are many other free apps that provide a clearer learning path and have a more intuitive interface than Encore!!! Language Learning.

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Instant Immersion Mini-Review: No Longer a Good Investment

Instant Immersion

Rating 2.0
Price:

1 level costs $29.95, 3 levels cost $44.95

Summary

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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An Honest Review of iTalki With Image of Man Working on Computer

italki Review – The Good, The Bad, & The Just Alright

italki

Rating 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.


Quality 4.5

You’ll find everyone from long-time professionals to brand new teachers.

Thoroughness 4.0

The overall platform has tons of useful features but also some room for improvement.

Value 5.0

Huge number of teachers, low prices, and flexible scheduling.

I Like
  • There are large numbers of teachers available even for less common languages.
  • You can find skilled teachers even at low prices.
  • The flexibility to schedule lessons whenever convenient. The huge number of teachers guarantees you’ll find someone to fit your schedule.
  • The extra features in the italki Community make it easy to ask questions, get your writing checked, and find a free language exchange partner.
I Don’t Like
  • Community features are only available through the app.
  • You may need to try several tutors before finding one that fits your learning and personality style.
  • It’s easy to not take classes as often as you should.
Price

The prices vary by teacher and language with some being as low as $5 and others as high as $60 per hour. Most will fall somewhere near the $10 per hour range. Right now italki is offering a $10 credit with your first purchase.

It’s very rare for me to recommend a particular resource for everyone, regardless of the language that they’re studying. Usually each language will have their own unique resources that are great specifically for students of that language.

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Bluebird Languages Mini-Review: Over 160 Languages Available

Bluebird Languages

Rating 2.5
Price:

Free, Premium subscriptions cost $13.99/mo, $144.99/year

Summary

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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Brainscape Mini-Review: Adaptive Flashcards

Brainscape

Rating 4.0
Price:

Freemium, Premium subscriptions start at $9.99/mo

Summary

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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