The best apps to learn American Sign Language feature high-quality video content and interactive components to score sign correctness. Some of the best apps for learning ASL include Rocket ASL, The ASL App, ACE ASL, and Italki.…
YouGlish is a website that has indexed millions of video clips to put words in context for language learners. After searching for a word in your target language, you will see a YouTube video with subtitles and your target word highlighted in yellow. When you have heard the word, you can continue listening to the video or move on to the next example. You can also slow down the speed of the audio, click on a sentence in the transcript to replay it, or skip backwards 5 seconds to listen again. Sometimes you can watch over 1000 videos with your target word, other times there may only be a couple dozen available. Some languages also allow you to choose between different regional dialects, such as: French from Canada or France; Chinese from Taiwan or China; and Spanish from Spain or Latin America. You will need to search for the word in your target language, so you can check out WordReference or Linguee to get a translation. Forvo also provides audio clips of native speaker pronunciation, but with YouGlish, you can practice listening to these words in context. If you want help with reading the subtitles, you can download Readlang for on-screen translations. The Zhongwen Chrome extension will be better for Chinese learners, as it provides the pronunciation of each character as well as a definition.
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.
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.
You’ll find everyone from long-time professionals to brand new teachers.
The overall platform has tons of useful features but also some room for improvement.
Huge number of teachers, low prices, and flexible scheduling.
- 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.
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.…
Freemium, Premium subscriptions start at $9.99/mo
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.
Rocket Languages is a comprehensive resource offering courses in several commonly learned languages. There’s a range of quality between the different language options. Some aren’t very good, some are worth looking at, but none of them are truly outstanding. While the material is often well-structured and full of practice opportunities, uninteresting content and repetitive exercises often keep the experience mediocre.
The platform is well designed and easy to use, but the content is often uninteresting.
There are lots of explanations and practice opportunities, but exercises are repetitive.
The price gives lifetime access to material and content.
- There are a lot of opportunities to speak
- Lesson materials are thorough
- Lots of practice opportunities
I Don’t Like
- Practice opportunities are repetitive and boring
- Speech recognition isn’t the best way to learn pronunciation
- The audio lessons can be uninspiring
The price seems to change semi-regularly with frequent discounts. At the time of writing, they are:
$99.95 for Level 1
$249.90 for Level 1 and 2
$259.95 for Level 1, 2, and 3
Use code: BLACKFRIDAY and get 60% off all courses!
In the world of online product reviews, anything goes. It’s often hard to know how accurate a review is — affiliate links with high commissions incentivize reviewers to say positive things about a product so that readers buy it and earn a commission for the reviewer.…
Living Language Online Course
UPDATE – it appears that the online course Living Language no longer exists. This review covers the old course when it did exist. You can however find a series of books with this name available on amazon.
Though the information itself is useful, Living Language’s presentation reads more like a database than an educational/interactive tool.
Again, a lot of the information is there, but it’s scattered. Additionally, some of that information appears incorrect.
Cheaper options offer the same amount of content with more interactive features.
- You can hop around between levels and topics, including Beginner and Advanced materials.
- The subscription comes with a grammar guide, glossary, and forum access.
- There’s a decent variety of games, including some games I hadn’t played before.
I Don’t Like
- Although the games are fun, they get stale pretty quickly. It’s easy to guess at answers, thereby completing levels without really having learned.
- The system doesn’t keep track of your mistakes, so it’s hard to know what areas you need to improve in.
- I found several translation and presentation errors that made me question the rest of the material.
An annual plan costs $150, and half a year costs $75. Three months is $50 and 1 month is $39.
An Overview of Living Language
Living Language offers you the opportunity to choose between over 20 languages. Once you pick your language, you’re taken to the home screen which has options for Essential, Intermediate, and Advanced categories. You can start with any of these options and jump back and forth between them.…