Bluebird Languages has several types of lessons you can choose from, including a daily lesson, core vocabulary, essential verbs, creating sentences, powerful phrases, and conversation. Each topic seems to have a beginner, intermediate, and advanced lesson, although it’s not clear how advanced “advanced” is.
In each lesson, an English-speaking narrator will ask you to listen to and repeat translations of various phrases. The recordings in each language seem to use native speakers’ voices, which is quite the feat considering they have lessons in over 160 languages.
Bluebird Languages’ phrases don’t construct a replicable dialogue, so the phrases don’t seem to have a lot of context other than the topic at hand. Furthermore, the topics seem to be identical in all languages, so most of the phrases will not be culture-specific. They also don’t break down complicated pronunciation, but you can try to break it down yourself by slowing down the recording to 0.5x speed.
Bluebird Languages seems similar to Pimsleur but appears less organized and will probably not improve your communication abilities as quickly. Nevertheless, it may be a good free alternative for beginners, and the program will probably help you develop some confidence in speaking languages that have less challenging pronunciation. The conversation and personalized lessons require a monthly membership, but there is enough free content that these add-ons may not be necessary.
Learning with Speekoo is more of a cultural journey than an intensive language learning app. With every lesson, you will explore some tourist attractions, unusual aspects, and funny anecdotes about different cities that speak the language you are studying. With each correct answer, you “walk” a kilometre further on your journey and gradually unlock videos and articles. Unfortunately, all of these features are in English (or French if you are learning from French).
Speekoo’s free lessons build on one another, and you can easily apply new words to your everyday life. Unfortunately, although you will effectively learn what the app teaches you, the extent of the material will only give you the absolute basics of each language. You will not be able to have even simple conversations once you have finished all the levels. The app also doesn’t introduce new scripts, so you won’t learn how to read Japanese or Chinese; instead, you will write the sounds using the English alphabet.
Despite its simplicity, Speekoo is a fun, free option for the extremely casual learner who wants to dip their toes in a language. Hopefully, the developers will take the levels further.
Loecsen’s strengths are its attractive interface and drawings that accompany the content. It also uses high-quality audio recordings by native speakers, even in the less-common languages.
The website offers 41 different languages, but unfortunately, there are only about 432 phrases to learn, which will not take you beyond even the absolute basics. These phrases are practical, however, so in a pinch, they may save you abroad.
Despite the attractive interface, the buttons are not very intuitive, so you may have to click around to figure out what each one does. Below the main interactive program, you can see a list of vocabulary and a progress bar for speaking and vocabulary activities — the vocabulary highlights in green as you complete the quizzes. At the very bottom of the page, you can also see an overview of basic pronunciation.
For pronunciation practice, the read-aloud tool provides you with a series of songs or text excerpts that you can record yourself reading aloud and then compare with the original song (or a robot voice).
If you’re just looking to learn basic essential phrases and pick up some vocabulary for a trip, Loecsen is an attractive program for the very casual learner. Otherwise, many other resources can take you to at least the intermediate level in most of the same languages.
AmazingTalker is an italki and Verbling competitor that lets you book classes with language teachers and academic tutors of your choice. It has a lot of attractive features for students, but teachers complain about high commission rates and lack of support.
It boasts a 3% acceptance rate for teachers and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your class, they’ll rebook you another one for free. There are lots of teachers to choose from, or you can also use their AI Matching Service to find a tutor. The teachers’ profiles include videos, reviews, and their résumé.
However, AmazingTalker doesn’t seem a great choice for teachers. It charges English and Japanese teachers astonishingly high commission rates of up to 30%. While these rates fall as teachers earn more through the site, they have to make $1,500 a month before the commission reaches levels comparable to italki and Verbling. Making it worse, there’s an additional 8% fee for payment processing and tax that all teachers have to pay, no matter what language they teach.
There have also been complaints on Reddit from teachers claiming to have been harassed by students and fellow teachers. However, we cannot corroborate these.
Given all this, we’d recommend trying italki (review) or Verbling (review) first. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best platforms for online language classes.
Synergy Spanish is an often-recommended course, but I found it to be old, overpriced, boring, and not as good as competitors. The good side is that their lessons force you to start speaking right away. Even with a limited vocabulary, you’ll be able to express a lot of different things. Still, I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Verbix is a verb conjugator website and app developed by an independent non-profit organization. It conjugates over 100 languages, including Old English, Latin, and Yiddish
The amount of information on the conjugation page varies depending on how common the language is. At its best, it will display nominal forms, most common verb conjugations, verbs that have similar conjugations, translations, synonyms, antonyms, cognates, and a section on etymology. Sometimes there are sample sentences (without translations) that seem to come from articles and books. The final section on additional information seems a bit random, and its purpose is unclear.
To conjugate a verb in another language, you have to know the verb in its infinitive form. Unfortunately, although Verbix has a translation function, it doesn’t seem to cover all of the available languages, so you may not be able to find the verb you are looking for in the first place.
A fun page to explore is Verbix’s list of over 6000 languages with a map depicting where each of these languages is spoken. Otherwise, Verbix seems a bit random and incomplete. It may be a helpful resource for less commonly studied languages, but check out Reverso Translation, Cooljugator, and SpanishDict first.
Also, if you want to practice verb conjugations in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Latin, check out Conjuguemos
Lingua Boost’s website sells downloadable volumes of phrasebook-like lessons that teach everyday phrases in context. The lessons are about 10 minutes long; they are narrated by native speakers and focus on vocabulary within a specific topic. Although each lesson seems to contain something that resembles a dialogue, every phrase is spoken by the same person. Additionally, many of the lessons initially appear to be dialogues, but end up as a list of sentences. For example, the first line of a lesson might be, “what do you like to do?” followed by a series of statements such as “I like to read books,” or “I like to go swimming.”
Furthermore, for languages that have more difficult pronunciation, such as Russian and Hindi, the lessons do not break down pronunciation. In Pimsleur, for example, they use an excellent technique of working backwards with each syllable in a word. In Lingua Boost, it seems that you are expected to just listen and gradually catch on, even from the absolute beginner level.
Finally, each volume must be purchased separately, but you can test out the first 5 lessons for free on their website.
If you’re looking for a similar course that breaks down pronunciation, has interactive activities and helps you learn full dialogues in context, check out Pimsleur’s subscription plan.
101 Script Writing App
Kannada 101, Tamil 101, Telugu 101, Marathi 101, Bengali 101: these are just some of the apps from developer Uma Loganathan.
You can also download Arabic 101, Vietnamese 101, and even English 101 and German 101. If you’re learning these languages, though, we’d take a look at Write Me instead. We feel that the Write Me app is generally a more well-designed option, especially since it also tests you on your ability to match the right character to an audio recording.
However, the Write Me app barely has any Indian languages, and that’s where the 101 series shines. You’ll be able to trace the characters; switch between easy, normal, and freestyle modes; and receive a score out of 100. The stroke order and direction are clearly explained.
Whenever you make a mistake, you receive instant feedback: the music stops and the “ink” stops flowing. This allows you to self-correct immediately, rather than practicing it wrong.
The series has its flaws: like with most apps, you won’t learn how to join up characters. However, we think it’s a useful tool for beginners.
StudySpanish.com - Camino Del Éxito
StudySpanish.com has some useful free materials on their website, but their paid products should be avoided. Their Camino del Éxito audio course is a near exact copy of the free FSI Basic Spanish Course. They also have a separate subscription plan but none of the extra materials found within it are very useful and definitely not worth paying for.