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My Language Exchange Mini-Review: Millions of Active Users

My Language Exchange

Rating 4.2

Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo


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 Although the website seems out of date, it still has an active community of millions of language-learners who speak almost 200 native languages (including less commonly studied languages).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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Lexilogos Mini-Review: A Resource Bank For Dictionaries and Books


Rating 3.5



Although Lexilogos seems to have entirely neglected its aesthetics, it holds more than meets the eye. If you click on one of the 130+ languages listed at the bottom of the page, you will find a series of resources to support your studies. This is especially useful for less-studied languages, like Marathi, Basque, and Pashto. Although the lists don’t provide recommendations for applications, they do provide a list of dictionaries, keyboards, news sites, books, and research papers. Additionally, if you switch to the French version of the site, there are even more languages and resources available for you to explore. Within each language’s page, there is also a dictionary search function. You will notice that more commonly studied languages will have dozens of dictionaries to choose from, while less commonly studied languages may only have one or two. Overall, Lexilogos is a great option for finding resources for less commonly studied languages. They regularly update their site, so make sure to check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for the first time around.

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An Honest Review of Duolingo With Image of Man on Tablet

Duolingo Review: Useful But Not Sufficient – 2 Language Learners Test It (With Video)


Rating 4.0


Duolingo is a super popular free language-learning app. It’s available for desktop as well as mobile and offers over 90 different language courses in over 20 different languages — there are currently 35 languages with English instruction. The Duolingo approach is gamified and easy to use, but the bite-sized lessons don’t offer much in the way of in-depth practice. The Duolingo tag line is “Learn a language in just five minutes a day.”

Quality 4.0

It’s easy and fun to use, but some pronunciation and grammar instruction is of low quality, especially for Asian languages.

Thoroughness 3.5

The app works well for learning the basics, but there’s little speaking practice and grammar instruction is limited.

Value 4.5

It’s a lot of content for free, but you’ll need to use supplementary resources.

I Like
  • The short lessons are ideal for quick, convenient practice
  • The game-like features make the exercises engaging and fun
  • The community aspect is motivating
I Don’t Like
  • There’s no opportunity to create your own sentences
  • Grammar instruction isn’t part of the lessons
  • Text-to-speech audio is sometimes low quality

Duolingo is totally free. Duolingo Plus offers a few additional features and is available for:

$12.99/month (paid monthly) $6.99/month (12-month subscription)

Their family plan is $119.99 a year

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning programs out there. It’s been on the scene since 2012 and offers instruction in 35 different languages. It even offers courses in three constructed languages (perfect for brushing up on your Esperanto or High Valyrian).

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Rosetta Stone Review — Updated and Improved…And Needs More Improvement

Rosetta Stone

Rating 3.2


Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known resources for learning languages. It takes an immersive approach to teaching and is widely used by corporations and individuals alike. High levels of repetition and an absence of translations or explanations are hallmarks of the course. Rosetta Stone course could be most suitable for learners that don’t mind repetitive exercises and prefer to learn from pictures and context rather than translations and explanations. It’s probably not a good option for anyone wanting to significantly improve their speaking or writing skills, or those looking for an engaging course.

Quality 3.0

The platform is a bit clunky on desktop, but the material is accurate and presented clearly; lesson mechanics are fairly intuitive.

Thoroughness 3.0

Without much opportunity to build your own sentences, I don’t think you’ll reach a conversational level with any notable speed.

Value 3.5

Rosetta Stone’s Lifetime Subscription ($199 on sale) is quite attractive if you like the Rosetta Stone Method. Shorter subscriptions are quite reasonable, too.

I Like
  • The audio quality is very good.
  • Lessons progress naturally and logically.
I Don’t Like
  • It’s repetitive and boring.
  • You don’t get to generate your own sentences.
  • Speech recognition doesn’t work very well.
  • No grammar explanations in core material.

A three-month subscription to one language is $35.97, which works out to be $11.99/month.
A year-long subscription to one course is $95.88, which is $7.99/month. Both of these subscriptions are automatically recurring.
Lifetime access to all Rosetta Stone language courses is available for $199.

ALR Readers Exclusive Holiday Deal!! Get the Lifetime Subscription for 25 languages for $179 (everywhere else it’s $199 right now!). See details on the website.

Chances are, this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about Rosetta Stone for learning languages. The company has been hugely successful since its early start in the computer-assisted learning scene in 1992, and part of that is thanks to stellar advertising efforts.

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Polly Lingual Mini-Review: Phrasebook With Simple Games

Polly Lingual

Rating 2.0

Freemium, yearly subscriptions start at $2.99/mo


Polly Lingual is a phrasebook app and website with a series of basic word lists, flashcards, and memory games. Some of the phrases are pronounced by native speakers, while others use text-to-voice. Unlike other phrasebook apps that focus on phrases alone, Polly Lingual introduces the basic alphabet in languages with non-romanized scripts. You can quiz yourself on the basic vowels and consonants in Russian, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese, and Arabic. Polly Lingual may be helpful for a quick review of what you’ve already learned, but if you’re keen on learning to write a new script, you may want to check out Write It! or Write Me. There are also Polly Ambassadors — tutors who will provide short videos of language learning tips throughout the site. You can send them a personal message or hire them as a private tutor. Overall, Polly Lingual only teaches basic phrases and will probably not help you learn how to construct your own sentences. If you’re just beginning to learn another language, check out French in Action, Red Kalinka (Russian),, 90 Day Korean, Portuguese lab, or Pimsleur to get more out of your time. Also, Italki will give you more options for private tutors, if that’s what you’re looking for.

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YouGlish Mini-Review: Thousands of Words in Context From YouTube


Rating 4.0



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.

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Conversations by StoryLearning Mini-Review: There are Cheaper Options

Conversations – IWTYAL

Rating 3.5



Conversations by I Will Teach You a Language is a downloadable program that uses Comprehensible input (CI) as a strategy to improve your language level. Comprehensible input is when you consume second language material that is just above your current level, which in IWTYAL’s case, is about A2-B1 on the CEFR scale. The Conversations program includes material of a manageable length with full transcripts and English translations. It is 20 chapters long and follows six characters, two of whom have just moved to the countryside from the big city. You will listen to realistic dialogues between the characters and learn everyday colloquialisms and slang. The characters have a variety of accents within each language, and they speak at a relatively natural speed. The series has the same content in each language, but there are variations based on cultural differences. IWTYAL probably has good quality materials, but it is quite expensive compared to other CI resources. Intermediate learners can check out innerFrench, Japanese With Noriko, Russian With Max, and Dreaming Spanish for some high-quality, free alternatives. Chinese learners might want to check out Du Chinese and The Chairman’s Bao for graded readers with audio. 

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Audiria Mini-Review: Good Quality Content When it Hasn’t Been Deleted


Rating 3.0



Audiria’s podcasts are structured like lessons, with about 20 different topics to choose from. They focus on humour, art, short scenes, songs, and books, not to mention slow podcasts and podcasts for beginners. On Audriria‘s website, each podcast contains a full transcript with exercises and tests, allowing you to fill in the blanks, put sentences in order, and choose the right sentence to fill the transcript. Unfortunately, the interface is not very user friendly and the layout makes it difficult to navigate some of the activities: sometimes the images don’t load on the test pages, and often you will find that your chosen podcast has been deleted from the source. Audiria has good-quality and helpful content, but the website makes it less desirable to use. If you can find a podcast that has not been deleted, then it may be worth checking out, but other podcast-based resources have more consistent quality and reliable platforms. Spanishpod101, Unlimited Spanish, Notes in Spanish, and Spanish Obsessed are just a few other options.

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Instituto Cervantes Mini-Review: Expensive, But Worth It

Instituto Cervantes

Rating 4.7

Freemium archives, lessons start at 20€, courses start at 75€


The Instituto Cervantes is a non-profit Spanish organization developed by the Spanish government to promote the study of Spanish language and Culture. On their website, you can find self-guided courses for levels A1 to C1. Sixteen 30-hour courses cover 48 topics, each with videos, reading material, and interactive exercises. There is a 3 month limit on access to courses, and a 3-week limit on the individual 10-hour lessons. You can also purchase an affordable 1-year membership to their library of digital content, which has thousands of books, audiobooks, databases, online dictionaries, and more for studying Spanish. Although the user interface is not very modern, the Instituto Cervantes has some of the few online platforms that meticulously takes you through each of the CEFR levels with structured, high-quality, and interactive lessons. If you know you can motivate yourself to self-study and have some spare cash to invest in your learning, it will probably be time and money well spent. Unfortunately, each course must be purchased separately and they are quite expensive. You can take a look at the archived lessons here and decide if you want to purchase the full course to provide more structure.  Beginners may want to download the Readlang Chrome extension to help with translation, as most of the webpages are entirely in Spanish. Also, nothing beats learning through speaking the language, so check out italki, SpanishVIP, and Baselang for online Spanish tutors.

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SpanishVIP Review — Unlimited Online Classes


Rating 4.5


SpanishVIP is a service that connects students and teachers of Spanish for online video lessons. It offers an “unlimited lessons” model for a monthly subscription and could be extremely cost effective for learners that take several lessons per week. It’s best suited for learners of Latin American Spanish at any level that want to improve their listening and speaking skills. It might not be the best fit if you’re mostly interested in Iberian Spanish or if you live in an Asian time zone.

Quality 4.5

The teachers are well trained and the materials are of high quality.

Thoroughness 4.5

You can really study whatever you like; the teachers are focused on helping you achieve your own specific goals.

Value 4.5

If you can take enough classes each week, the price is excellent.

I Like
  • Highly-personalized classes.
  • Great teachers.
  • It’s affordable.
I Don’t Like
  • There could be scheduling limitations for some students.

In total there are 9 different subscription options with SpanishVIP: three for group classes, three for private classes, and three for SpanishVIP+ classes . Group classes come with a 7-day free trial, though you’ll still have to provide payment information upfront.

Group Classes – 1 Month: $99 3 Months: $249 6 Months: $399.

Private Classes – 1 Month: $149 3 Months: $399 6 Months: $699.

SpanishVIP+ Classes – 1 Month: $249, 3 Months: $649, 6 Months: $1,195.

Mention ALR to get a free month of group classes with any private class purchase.

There’s something about getting a human involved that is still unbeatable when it comes to language learning.

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