Conversations - IWTYAL
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.
Lingo Mastery Conversational Dialogues
Lingo Mastery provides over 100 short dialogues in a series of advanced beginner books (about A2 on the CEFR scale) for various languages.
Lingo Mastery’s Conversational Dialogues doesn’t take the immersive approach that you will find in other graded readers. Instead, they provide a full English translation of each text. There are no vocabulary lists or comprehension questions like in their Short Stories series, but you will read conversations that take place in over a hundred different scenarios. If your goal is to accumulate vocabulary based on situations that you may encounter in your everyday life, then Lingo Mastery is probably a good investment.
If you want to follow real-life conversations that are part of a continuous story, you may want to check out Olly Richards’ 101 Conversations. Also, if you are looking for a series of books that will keep you captivated, Mandarin Companion and ESLC provide graded readers that simplify famous stories into Chinese and Spanish.
If you do decide to invest in these readers, make sure to buy the Kindle version, which is about 20% of the paperback price. There are also previews available on Amazon.
The free version gives you limited access to some functions, but by paying for a membership you support ethical causes — such as building a primary school in Tanzania.
You can browse user-contributed texts or easily import your own YouTube videos, articles, or ebooks into the Reading Tool. OPLingo has also developed hundreds of audio conversations in several languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano, Thai, Swahili, and Russian.
Within each page, you can read a transcript and get definitions and pronunciations of unknown words. By identifying which words you don’t know, the next passages you read will highlight the number of known or unknown vocabulary words.
In their Write & Correct section, you can write in over 100 languages and exchange corrections with other users, although Spanish, French, and English learners have a better chance of receiving corrections than other languages at the moment.
You can also practice a language by texting with fellow community members, or by hiring a teacher in your target language.
OPLingo has a lot of potential and is a good alternative to LingQ, but it needs a community of learners to help it grow — so check it out!
Busuu is a digital language-learning app with over 90 million registered users. The resource offers vocabulary and grammar practice through short, self-paced study exercises. It also has a social aspect that allows users to get writing and pronunciation feedback from native speakers. It is available on the web, iOS, and Android.
Lyrics training is a free app that claims to improve your ability to recognize the different sounds in your target language. Through listening to different songs, you can reinforce vocabulary, expressions, and grammar concepts. Although it does not provide any translations or explanations for these skills, it does seem to train listening comprehension and memorization.
While listening to your chosen song, you will be provided with a choice of 4 words to help fill in an increasing percentage of lyrics; by the advanced level, you will be responsible for filling in 100% of the lyrics. Each of the 14 languages available seem to have a wide variety of song choices, and even if you don’t understand what the lyrics mean, you will probably be able to sing along.
If you would prefer an app that focuses more on comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar, check out Lirica.
MOSAlingua is an SRS flashcard app that provides useful phrases beyond the typical travel sayings you will find in other phrasebook apps. However, you will need need to use other resources if you are hoping to achieve fluency.
After choosing your level or taking a placement test, you can learn through their bank of pre-made lessons and dialogues, or choose which flashcards you would like to focus on. As you progress, bonus lessons such as proverbs, quotes, jokes, and fun facts can inspire you to achieve more in your learning. To better understand new phrases, the app links to WordReference, Tatoeba, Twitter, and Google pronunciation to give you more context.
If ever you are on the road and can’t look at a screen, hands-free mode will help you learn new phrases or review old ones by focusing on listening and repeating. All the content is offline, so you don’t have to worry about data or wifi for your studies.
Overall, MOSAlingua seems like a useful app for learning new words and phrases. Unlike most other apps, upgrading to premium from the free content is permanent, although some bonus content comes at an additional cost.
Tatoeba is a sentence-focused reference dictionary, not word focused. Therefore, by searching for a word in any language, you are searching for examples of that word in context. The site is community-driven, but you don’t have to be multilingual to contribute to the site — it needs native-speaking writers to expand the example database and proofread user sentences.
All of the translations are interconnected: even if there is technically no direct translation from Zulu to Chinese, an English translation for the same sentences in both languages will provide direct translations between them.
Although Tatoeba supports about 388 languages, about 200 of these languages have less than 100 sentences, and about 58 have less than 10. Nevertheless, the database is continuously growing, and with more community members, the less common languages may have a chance to develop further.
It is prohibited to use a translation tool or copyrighted sentences to contribute to the translation database. Unfortunately, some contributors write in a language in which they are not proficiently fluent. As a result, the site has grammatical mistakes and sentences that don’t sound natural. You may have to do some digging to figure out if the contributor is a native speaker or not.
Glossika has learning resources for over fifty languages that impressively range from Armenian and Czech to Icelandic and Tagalog.
While not suitable for absolute beginners, lower intermediates could use the resource to familiarise themselves with sentences in their language of choice using Glossika´s intuitive approach.
Listening to native speakers and repeating what they say can help learners to improve their comprehension skills and spoken fluency.
While it is amazing that so many languages are included, learners would have to use numerous other resources alongside it. The cost is unjustifiably high.
Created by Idahosa, the Mimic Method’s ‘Elemental Sounds Masters Classes’ are not your traditional type of language learning course as you won’t learn any grammar or vocabulary. The focus is instead on learning the elemental sounds of the language. This is because once you can conceptualise them, then you can train your ear to hear and understand them and afterwards train your mouth to produce and pronounce these sounds. Useful for both beginners and advanced learners, you would obviously need to use it in conjunction with a couple of other resources to progress in your target language.
Fluent Forever App
The Fluent Forever mobile app is a language learning program currently available in eight languages. The approach it takes is based on the methodology described by Gabrial Wyner in his book, Fluent Forever. It uses flashcards and a spaced repetition algorithm to help the learner create meaningful connections with the language and commit language items to long-term memory.
It’s best for people who are able to dedicate ample time and supplementary resources to learning a new language.