With Readlang as your Google Chrome Extension, you can have instant translations for words or sentences in over 45 languages at the tip of your mouse cursor (or fingertip)! Browse the internet and effortlessly click on unknown words to get a translation that stays on your screen until it is no longer needed.
If you can’t find anything to read on the internet, you can access a bank of public texts organized by word count and difficulty, browse the most popular websites for Readlang users, or upload your own text to study. If you read on the Readlang website, you can see words that you have previously translated highlighted across every text.
Readlang collects SRS flashcards for you from words that you have translated. It will only record the most useful words for you to practice based on word frequency lists, which could be either a pro or a con depending on your study goals. Each flashcard also includes audio pronunciation and the sentence from which the word was taken. You can choose to reveal the flashcard to check your comprehension, or type in your response for more effective recall.
The free version provides enough for the casual user, but upgrading to an affordable premium membership allows unlimited phrase translations and unknown word highlighting across texts. Although there may be some problems with translations in beta languages, and sometimes it fails to recognize text, overall Readlang is an excellent resource for language lovers.
Linguee was developed by over 400 lexicographers. It is unique in that it does not use machine-translation to provide examples of words in context — instead, it sources words from articles and research papers in the original language. As a result, it is an excellent dictionary app to find translations for specialized terminology.
You will learn the subtleties of various translations by reading paired paragraphs of text that have each been professionally translated, not translated by a machine. In some languages, you can listen to pronunciations by native speakers and read multiple translations of your chosen word or phrase.
Although translations are highlighted in each paragraph so you can compare how to use them in each language, they can be difficult to navigate quickly. If you are looking for a website with simple and professional translations, you can check out WordReference for several different languages. SpanishDict is also an excellent option for Spanish, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese.
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.
SpanishVIP is a service that connects students and teachers of Spanish for online video lessons. It offers an “unlimited lessons” model for a monthly subscription and could be extremely cost effective for learners that take several lessons per week.
It’s best suited for learners of Latin American Spanish at any level that want to improve their listening and speaking skills. It might not be the best fit if you’re mostly interested in Iberian Spanish or if you live in an Asian time zone.
ESLC Short Novels For Beginners
The Easy Spanish Learning Centre, with Álvaro Parra Pinto, edits, simplifies, and translates well-known stories into Spanish for upper beginner learners (perhaps at the A2 level on the CEFR scale). The workbook series includes ten volumes of about 120 pages each, following stories such as The Canterville Ghost, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Gulliver’s Travels.
The stories are engaging and will help you improve your reading abilities. At the end of each chapter, there are vocabulary lists (with some questionable English translations) and a variety of exercises to test your reading comprehension — and, if you go to the ESLC website link at the beginning of the book, you can get a free ebook with some tips on effective reading techniques.
The dialogues use a noticeable number of exclamation points, which may be distracting at times, but this is more of a stylistic quirk rather than a pedagogical disadvantage. Overall the ESLC Short Novels provide over a thousand pages of engaging material for advanced beginners to start reading in Spanish.
Fluencia is one of the better online Spanish courses I’ve come across. The course content is very well designed including tons of detailed explanations and exercises to practice what you’ve learned. While some similar courses are more gamified and less challenging, Fluencia is more challenging and less game-like. While I like Fluencia quite a bit, you’ll probably want to get more speaking practice elsewhere.
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.
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.
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.
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.