Ouino is a software program and mobile app with more than 500 lessons and 1,000 exercises in Spanish, French, Italian, and German. It’s curriculum-based with an academic approach (as opposed to relying on gameplay like some other language apps). It covers the basics such as vocab and pronunciation, but can also help you improve your conversation skills and master verb tenses.
Ouino would be great for you if you want to pick a language back up after not using it for a while, if you love structure, or if you want lots of practice. It could also be a good resource for language students who want to keep their skills sharp in between semesters.
Ideal for people who are already at an upper beginner/intermediate level, Clozemaster will help you build your vocabulary and learn new words and sentences in context. While you won’t learn much grammar or improve your speaking and writing much, it is great at what it does and the videogame aspect makes it fun and addictive to work though. Although the exercises are all pretty much identical, there are various ways in which you can increase the difficulty and Clozemaster’s free account is almost as good as the Pro User one.
Comme une Française's YouTube Channel
The Comme une Française YouTube channel helps non-native speakers at a lower-intermediate level understand the subtleties of the living language. It’s run by Géraldine LePère, who lives in Grenoble, France. Géraldine’s engaging videos explain how French people really speak day-to-day, as opposed to textbook French. Some videos discuss pronunciation and real-life grammar; others touch on cultural topics, such as how to order coffee or make a toast like a French person. You can find written transcripts for the videos, as well as links to related material, free of charge on the Comme une Française blog.
One potential issue with the Comme une Française videos, especially for more experienced French speakers, might be the high ratio of English to French. Intermediate learners seeking videos completely in French for learning about Francophone life might enjoy InnerFrench (for Metropolitan French) or Wandering French (for French with a Québécois accent).
In addition to Comme une Française’s YouTube channel, Géraldine offers several premium plans, which we have not yet tried. These premium plans focus on different aspects of learning the language, such as speaking, conjugation, and “insider French.”
Paul Noble’s audiobook series is for beginners or upper-beginners who want to gain confidence in their target language. There are also crash courses for those who will soon be heading off on a business trip or holiday. The series focuses on cognates (words that are similar in both English and your target language) in order to build your vocabulary more efficiently. It also seems to have been inspired by Michel Thomas’ courses (with a few improvements).
Paul introduces vocabulary and gets you to make new sentences through problem solving. For example, he may introduce a sentence, then ask you to make a new sentence using your current knowledge and the new words you have just learned. Although the narrators move a bit slowly, the consistent interaction between you and the material ensures that you won’t get bored. Because Paul breaks down the rules of each language in such a simple and concise way, you can feel confident in building new sentences by yourself.
Langu is an italki competitor with some compelling factors in its favor. Just like with italki, you search its online database of teachers to book private lessons with them at times of your choosing. You can read other students’ reviews and take trial classes.
Unlike italki, there are no booking fees and you can purchase in a range of currencies, including euros and British pounds. Langu also boasts its own intuitive, web-hosted classroom software, meaning you don’t have to download a program or give your teacher your contact details. This also means that all shared links, videos, and worksheets are stored on Langu.
The biggest downside to Langu, in comparison with italki, is that you’ll have a smaller choice of teachers and there are no community features (forum, exercise tools, etc.). The classes also tend to be slightly more expensive.
On the other hand, Langu claims that all its teachers are “top teachers” – they have to submit a video application and be approved before joining the website – and offers to give students personal recommendations for specific teachers via email, if needed. While we’ve taken classes with one Langu teacher and were impressed by the quality of the classes, we can’t comment on whether all Langu’s teachers meet the same standards.
Wandering French follows the travels of Hélène, a Québécois French teacher of over 20 years. Her goal is to provide interesting material that can help French learners improve their listening comprehension. Hélène makes sure that the videos are not difficult to understand, but will still provide educational and authentic content for intermediate learners. As she travels a lot, many of her videos introduce topics specific to different countries or cities, such as the boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal, ice cream in Syria, or taxi boats in Bangkok.
The main episodes include a video, a transcript, a translation of each section of the video, a slow version of the transcript, and a quiz to test your comprehension. There are sometimes videos below the quiz with optional subtitles and insights into vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar (these are called the Capsules Linguistiques). Hélène also offers online classes through Skype or Google Hangouts.
For anyone who wants to learn more about the Québécois accent, or who wants to improve their listening comprehension, Hélène will help you do both and take you around the world at the same time.
My Language Exchange
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.
Oxford Dictionary has published numerous bilingual dictionaries over the years, many of which are not designed to be comprehensive. While some are “complete” dictionaries, others are called “mini”, “concise”, “essential” or even “shorter”.
Even the smaller ones are pretty thorough, however. The Oxford Mini Greek dictionary contains 40,000 words and phrases, many of which also contain multiple translations. It’s a lot shorter than the Oxford Hindi dictionary, at 100,000 entries, or the New Oxford American English Dictionary at 350,000 – but it’s still got a wider vocabulary than the average English speaker.
You can purchase the books themselves, but most learners will prefer the convenience of the apps with their regular updates and learner-friendly features. Search Autocomplete, Fuzzy Filter, Wild Card and Voice Search help you find words you don’t know how to spell. Favourites help you save useful words and phrases, while Word of the Day will introduce you to new words. Some dictionaries also contain audio recordings and thesauruses. And the freemium Oxford Dictionary with Translator will translate words and paragraphs to and from 14 languages.
For some languages, learners already have plenty of free, thorough dictionaries available to them. Spanish learners, for example, will probably prefer to combine the free apps SpanishDict and Diccionario RAE (Google Play, App Store). Mandarin Chinese learners will likely find Pleco more useful. But for some languages, these dictionaries may well be the most thorough and reliable ones available.
The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.
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.
LingQ is a language-learning platform that focuses on extensive reading for over 30 different languages. You can import your own content or choose from the community library of books, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, and more.
The app highlights unknown words across every lesson and makes them reviewable via different types of SRS flashcards. The more you read, the more accurately you will be able to identify content that is suitable for your level.
Although I did not find it beneficial for languages I had never studied before, I think LingQ can be helpful for upper-beginner to advanced language learners who enjoy reading. It is especially helpful if you struggle to find graded readers in your target language.