You’d think that with the vast amount of information on the Internet, learning a new language would be easy. But the availability of all that information is part of the problem. We’ve scoured the depths of the Internet to compile this list of the best websites for learning a new language.
Duolingo: Best for Most People
Duolingo is one of the most popular websites to learn a new language for free. Designed primarily for hobbyists, Duolingo starts by teaching you the most basic words in the language of your choice. Once you’re familiar with the words, simple sentences follow. It’s the more natural way of learning a language compared to a standard learning process.
Duolingo’s strength is in the way it presents the material. You’ll go through lessons with native speakers, followed by quizzes to help you strengthen your learning. The app listens to you speak so that it can determine how you’re progressing. It even uses spaced repetition (where you review previous material at gradually decreasing intervals) to help strengthen your learning. The addition of gamification elements like learning streaks and in-lesson grading help keep things interesting.
However, Duoling does have its downsides. While it’s great for helping you get started with the basics of a new language, it’s not great at the more advanced stuff. If you’re after any level of fluency, you’ll eventually need to move on to another service.
Duolingo is free on the web, iOS, Android, and Windows phone.
FluentU: Learn by Watching Foreign Language Videos
FluentU teaches you new languages using videos. The videos are not instructional, but rather regular videos featuring the foreign language. For example, you might see a movie clip, a music video, or a just a person talking. The videos have interactive captions to help you learn the language. The captions are presented in both languages (the one you know and the one you’re trying to learn), and you can hover any word to understand its meaning. Interactive quizzes help you measure your progress.
FluentU is not free, but they do offer a 15-day trial so you can check it out. After that, there’s a $10 per month Basic plan that lets you use their mobile apps (iOS and Android) and provides unlimited word lookup and unlimited videos. A $20 per month Plus plan adds unlimited flashcards and quizzes, as well as spaced repetition.
Rype: Get a Personal Instructor
Rype is another language learning website with an interesting business model. Instead of using quizzes or videos to teach a new language, you learn from a personal instructor over a video call. You schedule a 30- or 60-minute call with an instructor who’ll teach you the language personally. They don’t offer as many languages as other sites but plan to add more in the future.
Apart from languages, you can also learn academic subjects in the same way.
Rype offers a compelling and personal way of learning, but it comes at a price. After a seven-day trial, you’ll pay close to $65 per month to use the service.
Memrise: Use Word Games to Help You Learn
Memrise is another language-learning website designed more for getting started with a language than for real fluency. Similar to Duolingo, you learn a language by playing word games that help you memorize the language with ease. Using the apps, you can continue learning on the go—offline mode is also supported.
The basic features are free to use; the Pro version costs $4.95 a month. The Pro version gives you access to a Grammarbot, listening skill exercises, a video mode, and analytics on your learning performance.
Babbel: Pick a Topic that Interests You
Babbel takes a personalized approach to teach you new languages. Instead of starting with the same words as everyone else, you get to choose a topic about which you want to learn. A few examples of topics include animals, food, travel, and lifestyle. Once you choose a topic, you’ll learn the vocabulary for that topic first, which keeps the lessons interesting and useful.
A subscription to Babbel costs $12.95 a month and costs go down if you purchase a longer subscription. There is no free trial, but they do offer a 20-day money-back guarantee.
Image Credit: Cover photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
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