WordReference is one of the best websites for single-word translations. It uses a combination of its own dictionaries and Collins’, depending on the language, and relies on professional translations rather than machine-translations. With each word you look up, you will receive multiple examples of how to use it, nuances of each meaning, and a list of how to incorporate it into multiple phrases. Whereas sites like Bab.la seem to have machine-translated examples that sound quite random at times, WordReference’s examples can be applied directly to your everyday conversation.
You can also find conjugation tables and the Collins COBUILD English Usage dictionary, which shows you how to use individual English words correctly — through its explanations, English learners will be able to differentiate between words that are easily confused (such as ‘current’ and ‘currant’). If the explanations don’t make sense, you can ask questions in the WordReference Language Forum — there you will find an active community of language learners discussing language learning topics.
Unfortunately, not all words have audio pronunciation, but those that do can be played back at different speeds and with different accents (depending on the language).
Although WordReference is a thorough resource, SpanishDict is probably a better option for Spanish learners, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese. Linguee is also similar to WordReference but specializes in formal language, and Forvo has millions of words pronounced by native speakers in hundreds of languages.
Speechling is a website and app that makes it easy to improve your speaking skills in several languages. The free version is an incredbily valuable resource that makes it easy to practice mimicking native speakers. The Unlimited Plan provides unlimited corrections of your recordings by a teacher.
Yabla is a language-learning platform that uses videos with interactive subtitles and language games to help users learn a language. It’s currently available on the web and for iOS, with an Android app in development. Its videos are of varying difficulty levels and types, and are either sourced from the internet or originally produced, but all videos use native speakers.
Lingodeer may not be as well known as other language learning apps, but it’s actually better and cheaper than most of them. You’ll practice the language by completing lots of different types of exercises. They also include plenty of grammar explanations and opportunities to review what you’ve studied. All in all, it’s one of the better options for getting started learning a language.
The Language Transfer’s courses approach language learning with what has been coined as “The Thinking Method’. These audio courses serve as a great introduction to the nine languages currently available. They go into lots of depth on how each language works, teaching you all of the main grammar points and giving you the tools needed to learn independently and intuitively. For beginners looking to learn a language, these free courses are an effective and efficient way to start your journey.
Beelinguapp makes it easier to read and listen to interesting content in a number of languages. You’ll find short stories, news, fairy tales, music, and more. Their side-by-side reading functionality highlights the sentence in the language you’re learning, as well as in a language you’re familiar with. The karaoke feature makes it easy to follow the audio with the written text. Some of the content and features are available for free, but there are also premium plans to unlock more.
Seedlang is a funny, affordable, and effective resource for German learners. It focuses on speaking practice, grammar, and vocabulary, accompanying every word and sentence with a video of a german speaker. Seedlang encourages you to record your voice while both mimicking pronunciation and the movement of the speaker’s mouth. You will be pleasantly surprised at the humour of each lesson, with detailed grammar and vocabulary explanations depicted in a variety of clever contexts.
Although the program is advertised for A1-B2 German learners, you will get the most value as a beginner starting from lesson 1 of their 200-story tree. Nevertheless, even as a lower-intermediate learner, the content is sure to keep you engaged. In addition to progressive lessons, there are also trivia games, custom and pre-made word-reviews, and gender practice for nouns.
Try out some of the free content to see if you enjoy Seedlang’s method – you may find yourself laugh-out-loud entertained by its quirky creativity!
Lingoni evolved from YouTube’s popular channel, German with Jenny. This web application provides video lessons, vocabulary training, and podcasts for A1-B2 German and French learners. Each lesson and vocabulary training is accompanied by a series of exercises, including but not limited to: translation practice, sentence building, listening practice, and correcting mistakes in pre-written sentences. The podcast also includes a worksheet where you can fill in the blanks while listening to improve your listening comprehension.
Lingoni encourages 70% comprehension before allowing you move on to the next lesson. Overall, it seems to provide effective support for both beginner and intermediate learners to advance their skills.
If you’re interested in checking out Jenny’s teaching style, there are lots of free videos available on her YouTube channel.
Speakly focuses on reading, listening, speaking and writing to improve your confidence in your target language. It uses a Spaced Repetition System to help you push vocabulary into your long term memory, and teaches you the 4000 most statistically-relevant words in your target language.
Before using the program, you can take a placement test to estimate how many of the 4000 most common words you already know. Then, you will be placed in one of 9 levels. You will start with a series of sentences, learning words within context and then filling in the blanks for recall. After learning several words, you will be presented with a LIVE-situation where you will recreate a dialogue with the recording of a native speaker. The dialogues are also short enough that you can listen to them repeatedly, practice speaking along with the recording, and quickly notice improvement.
Besides flashcards and dialogues, there are also reading and listening exercises with interesting content. You can download the audio to study offline, which is helpful because Speakly encourages you to listen to the same exercise 3-5 days in a row to see improvement.
One of few downsides to Speakly is that for the basic flashcard sentences, all of the narrations use automatic text-to-speech rather than native speakers’ voices.
The German media outlet Deutsche Welle, offers free courses, videos, audio clips, worksheets, and more to support you in learning German at your own pace. You can filter courses based on level, which type of media is used, or the skills they focus on. B1 learners and above can enjoy news reports in simplified language with vocabulary and comprehension questions, web soap operas with exercises, and audio dramas.
The most recent course, German on the Go, has interactive lessons from A1-B1, with high-quality videos that introduce the lesson, followed by a series of exercises. Although it could be improved, it seems to be a well thought-out program that will help advance your skills. At the end of the lessons you will then get an overview of the grammar, vocabulary, and cultural notes with regional variations. Other courses include (but are not limited to) Deutsch – Warum Nicht, a comprehensive audio drama and textbook from 1991 that will take learners from A1-B1, Mission Berlin, an audio drama for levels A1-A2, and Jojo Sucht das Glück, a soap opera with interactive exercises for B1 and above.
The resources on Deutsche Welle are vast, mostly high-quality, and entirely free; if you are looking for extra practice in listening and reading, or if you are looking for an introduction to German, check it out!