Sign Language

Take Lessons Mini-Review: Use iTalki, Verbling, or Preply Instead

take lessons – 2.3 

At Take Lessons you can find in-person and online teachers for various topics, including language learning. This review is specific only to language learning.

Once on the site, you can filter teachers based on their location, availability, and price, then view the teacher’s profile to see their experience, student ratings, and basic bio. Most of the teachers have great ratings, so the quality of teaching is probably not an issue. However, Take Lessons takes about 40% of whatever the teachers charge. Obviously teachers need to charge a living wage, so can expect to pay 25% more than most language learning platforms whose teachers are of comparable quality.

Why 25%? Because most platforms (like iTalki and Verbling for example) only take a 15% commission, if not less. The only difference is that you could potentially have in-person lessons with Take Lessons, while the previously mentioned platforms are all online.

Take Lessons is probably a handy site for other types of services, but there are many more teachers and features specific to language learning available through the above mentioned alternative platforms.

Visit take lessons

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



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.


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


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


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.


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.

Visit Brainscape

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

Rocket Languages Review: Some Courses Are Ok, Others Are Bad

Quick Review



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 is on the high side for what competing resources offer.


Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, English, and Sign Language


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


Living Language Online Course Review – Not Very Good

Quick Review



Living Language provides numerous learning materials for multiple languages, including complete and essential courses that come with textbooks and CDs. They also have specialty courses covering business, travel, and several jobs. However, their standard online version isn’t very practical, and it’s difficult to tell if you’re actually learning or simply going through the motions. While the resource might be useful for those who want access to a large vocab list with grammar reading materials, there are better, cheaper options.


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.


An annual plan costs $150, and half a year costs $75. Three months is $50 and 1 month is $39.

Languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Dothraki, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, and Vietnamese

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.


After making your choice, you’ll start with Lesson 1.

Each lesson will include flashcards all related to a specific topic, such as food or clothing. The flashcards will feature the word in your chosen language beside a picture, and if you click on it, you can hear that word spoken. Once you complete the flashcards, you’ll move onto a grammar/vocab summary, followed by more flashcards.

Then, you’ll end the level by listening to a conversation and playing some games.

In truth, you can hop around these lessons as well, starting with the games and ending with Vocabulary 1 or 2. You can also hop in, listen to Vocabulary 2, and then switch to a different category entirely. Though the site provides a suggested order, it has no qualms with you following your own plan.

The number of lessons per category varies, as does the amount of words per level. Additionally, the games are worth certain percentage points, and your completion rate will go up as you work your way through them. You’ll also earn badges, medals, and stickers each time you beat a game.

However, as previously stated, simply beating a game doesn’t mean that you’re learning.

Getting Started with the Online Course

It’s fairly simple to get started with Living Language. Rather than sign up, you can opt for the free week option. I’d certainly suggest this option, as it will give you an idea of whether or not the site is right for you. However, it’s worth noting that the free version is limited to a few lessons from the Essential category.

After signing up, you can dive right into the learning materials. As previously stated, you can start with any category or level. You can even jump directly into the games. Of course, going in order makes the most sense for a beginner, and it might also be useful for someone more advanced; it can be hard to predict which lessons cover which words, and if you skip around, you might miss something important.


Lessons and Games

Assuming you attempt the lessons in order, the first lesson includes vocabulary flashcards on the topic of Greetings.

You can mark these cards as “Send to Mastered,” signifying that you know them fully. However, mastering a material doesn’t appear to change anything; it simply results in the word being removed from rotation. Once all the cards in a lesson are marked as Mastered, you have the chance to put them back in the rotation by choosing “Send to Study.”

After completing this vocab section, you’ll move onto reading material about the vocabulary and/or grammar you’ve learned. From there, you’ll listen to a conversation, which might bring in words you haven’t learned before. Oddly, the speaker’s gender doesn’t always match the speaker’s honorific (ex. a male speaker would sometimes speak for someone with the honorific Mademoiselle).

The games are definitely the most entertaining part of the site in my opinion.

There’s a large variety, including word searches, sentence builders, and fill in the blanks. You can also pop bubbles or answer multiple-choice questions in order to defeat a dragon.

At first, I enjoyed the games and felt like I was doing well with the material. However, after several rounds, the novelty of these games wore off. Additionally, it’s easy to guess the correct answers to several of the games, meaning you might win without really covering the material. I wasn’t trying to outsmart the games — I was simply trying to win them. In this case, winning has nothing to do with comprehension or retention; it simply meant I’d figured out the patterns.

My French knowledge is fairly basic, but I was able to complete several games in the Advanced category without reading any of the lessons beforehand.

If you complete a game with minimal errors, you’ll earn a gold badge. If you win with several errors, you’ll earn a silver or bronze badge. You’ll also earn a certain amount of percentage points, which appear on the home page under each category. And after multiple wins of the same game-type, you’ll start collecting badges.

Admittedly, I was curious to see what badges were available, and I think they work as a fun incentive. In this way, Living Language is kind of like a video game where you want to achieve 100% completion–but again, this isn’t necessarily helpful when trying to gauge your knowledge of the materials.

Once you finish your first grouping of lessons, you’ll move onto the next level, which will be based on a different subject. From there on, there’s not much variation in lesson set-up: it’s flashcards, a summary, a conversation, and games. It should also be noted that you have to click on the games yourself, or the lesson will simply skip them and move onto the next set of flashcards.

Oddly, some of the images don’t seem to align with the vocab. While I didn’t notice a ton of errors, it was enough to make me worry about the correctness of other translations, especially because of errors other users spotted.


Plans and Prices

Along with the monthly version, you can also purchase annual plans, 6-month plans, and 3-month plans. Value-wise, the 6-month plan and annual plan cost the same when looking at the price per month, whereas the 1-month plan is the most expensive and the 3-month plan falls somewhere between them.

A one month subscription costs $39, 3 months costs $50, 6 months costs $75, and 1 year costs $150.

Some languages don’t offer monthly versions, while others offer specialty courses for travel or specific occupations. For instance, Spanish lessons are available in Business for three-month increments at $60.

Furthermore, traditional book and CD sets are available at various price points. As I didn’t use these options, I can’t speak to their value, though reviews on Amazon are mixed.

Final Thoughts

Living Language provides several resources for language learning, including online courses, specialty courses, and CD/textbook options. While I can’t speak to all of these resources, the French Comprehensive course wasn’t very useful for me. The flashcards and grammar lessons are fairly basic, and the games, although fun at first, ultimately don’t reveal much about what you’ve learned.

Living Language could do more to take advantage of its online platform. The games and audio are a good start, but the site’s actual test value is missing. Additionally, while these resources could potentially be useful, there are cheaper options out there that offer more interactive features and in-depth explanations.

While I don’t think it will hurt your language learning efforts, I’d recommend looking at other resources first. As each language has different resources available, our top recommendations would depend on the language you’re studying. To find the ones we recommend, click on the language you’re learning below.


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