Swahili

Learn Swahili by Language Corner

0.7 
Price: Free

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At first glance, this app appeared basic but promising. However, it soon proved too buggy to use.

Learn Swahili Speak Swahili contains word lists and audio recordings for basic Kenyan Swahili words in 28 different categories. It uses native audio recordings that are so slow it almost seems unnatural. You’ll never struggle to work out the pronunciation with this app.

The problems started, however, when the first ad popped up. After we closed it, all audio recordings stopped working. We had to uninstall and reinstall the app for it to work again.

On our second try, we went to the Translate function and typed in “hello”. Having done that, the app wouldn’t let us scroll down to see the translation.

Even if this app were glitch-free, it still wouldn’t be a great resource. You would need to pair it with a flashcard app to drill the new vocabulary, as there are no in-built exercises or quizzes. However, until these bugs are fixed, Language Corner’s Learn Swahili Speak Swahili app seems too frustratingly buggy to use.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Samba Kamara/Linguarena Apps

Price: Freemium, the “full” apps cost $2.50–$23.90

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The Samba Kamara/Linguarena apps include Learn Swahili, Learn Wolof, Learn Bambara, and Apprendre l’allemand. For each language, you can either download the free app or the “full,” paid-for one. There are a lot of things we like about these apps, but ultimately, we felt overwhelmed using them. 

We tried out the Learn Swahili app and were impressed with a lot of the features: the native audio, the language demonstrated in context, the cultural notes, and the sheer amount of content that you can learn.

However, with few exercises and opportunities to drill the material, we found ourselves not remembering much and feeling demotivated by the sheer amount of vocabulary there is to memorize.

These apps might make for a good supplementary or expansion option if you’re already studying a Swahili, Wolof, or Bambara course. Alternatively, if you use these apps alone, be prepared to do lots of drilling.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Swahili Dar Language School

4.7 
Price: Free YouTube channel; courses start at $30/month

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Swahili Dar Language School is a YouTube channel and online course provider. We’ve only been able to try out the YouTube videos, but we’re fans of the high-energy delivery and detailed grammatical breakdowns. 

The YouTube channel has content for beginner, intermediate, and high-intermediate learners. Most of the videos focus on grammar, but there are occasionally vocabulary-based ones. In each video, teacher Sayi Michael appears with his whiteboard. His engaging teaching style makes the grammatical information easy to process. Make yourself comfy before pressing play, though: the videos last from 12 to 50 minutes.

On his website, you can subscribe to courses for one month, six months, or one year. Each course has 24–34 video lessons.

Since there is a lot of information in these YouTube videos, you’ll likely benefit from drilling them with flash card apps like Anki (review) and making your own sentences.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Complete Language Lessons

0.2 
Price: $8.99 for the CD/$1.29 per track on Amazon, free on Spotify

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Complete Language Lessons has audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon, Spotify, and Deezer. We tried out the Swahili audio course, Learn Swahili Easily, Effectively, and Fluently – and were extremely disappointed.

The audio tracks we sampled consist of Swahili phrases repeated over and over again, with no translations, explanations, or anything in English. The audio quality isn’t great, either, and the occasional muted club music adds to the bizarreness. 

It feels to us like the audio tracks are supposed to accompany a textbook, but we couldn’t find one. If one existed at some point, we suspect it’s no longer available.

If you already speak the language and are looking for native audio recordings to help you improve your listening and pronunciation, you might get some value out of Complete Language Lessons. However, if your aim is learn the language, we would skip these CDs.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Vocabulearn

0.6 
Price: $29.99 on Amazon, free on Spotify

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Vocabulearn has so-called audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon and Spotify. We don’t believe you’ll learn much from them, but they could help you practice your pronunciation.

For this mini review, we tried out the Vocabulearn Swahili/English Level 1 course. It’s split into four CDs, each with its own theme, and then each theme is divided into four lessons. The themes are: Nouns; Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions 1; Expressions; Verbs.

In each track, we listened to long lists of words and phrases. First, it was said in English; secondly, it was said in Swahili. However, there were no grammar or contextual explanations, drills, or activities to help you remember the material.

In short, we’re not convinced that you’d be able to make your own sentences or even remember the vocabulary after listening to these CDs. However, if you’re studying a language with fewer resources, we think you could use it to practice your pronunciation by repeating each word after the speakers say it.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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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.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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lexilogos

3.5 
Price: Free

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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.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Duolingo

Quick Review

Summary:

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

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

Thoroughness

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

Value

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

Languages: Duolingo offers 35 language courses with English instruction, three of which are constructed languages. Courses are available in most popular languages, including Spanish, French, German, etc.

Price

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)

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Pimsleur

Price: Subscriptions start at $14.95/mo

Quick Review

Summary:

Pimsleur is one of the most popular and longest-standing resources out there for learning a foreign language. Its courses place a strong emphasis on aural and verbal communication skills, paying less attention to grammar explanations and reading or writing skills. There are over 50 language courses available with Pimsleur, and the bulk of the material is taught with audio lessons.

Quality

The platform is extremely well designed and easy to use. The content seems to be of high quality at all levels.

Thoroughnes

Timely repetition and active practice work well, and lessons build on each other nicely, but the “intermediate fluency in 30 days” claim may be a stretch.

Value

The subscription option provides good value for some, but there may be more efficient ways to learn some languages.

Languages

There are courses in over 50 languages; you’ll find popular ones like German, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese alongside less common languages like Albanian, Finnish, and Haitian Creole.

Price

Subscriptions of either $14.95/month or $19.95/month are available for courses with at least 60 lessons. Prices otherwise range from around $20 to over $500. All purchases come with a 7-day free trial.

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ilovelanguages.org

1.6 
Price: Free

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iLoveLanguages seems similar to iLanguages and Learn101 in that every language has the same content and grammar. The eighteen 30-minute beginner ‘lessons’ in every language are essentially lists of phrases and vocabulary words, with audio recordings by native speakers.

The site seems to provide a local teacher for each language, but for some reason, the same teacher offers at least 11 of the languages (including Gaelic, Basque, Filipino, Marathi, and Cantonese). Oddly enough, this teacher also appears in stock photos around the internet. Considering that the website advertises each language class as being taught by a native speaker, perhaps be cautious if you are considering taking a class from this site — maybe try italki or SpanishVIP for private lessons instead.

iLoveLanguages may be helpful if you want to hear native speakers pronounce words in South-Eastern languages, like Marathi, Gujarati, Vietnamese, or Malay. You can compare the pronunciation with the speakers from either iLanguages or Learn 101 (but not both, as they use identical audio files). You could also check out Forvo, which is probably the most extensive pronunciation database on the internet right now. 

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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