Hello, Hola, Bonjour and Guten Tag!
Today I want to post about my favourite websites and apps for learning new languages. Firstly I’ll admit that I’ve never used a site or app for long enough to know whether you can really reach a high level (this is the reason I know just a few words in many languages) but, having studied Spanish for 10 years and still making mistakes all the time, I’ll say I doubt it. However, I’m so, so pro-language-learning that I definitely encourage the use of this kind of software! It’s fun, easy and a much better way to kill time on a commute than just zoning out.
I’ve tried out quite a few different websites, but these are the ones I have really liked.
When I had a Windows computer (unfortunately, the programme is only available for Windows) I used BYKI a lot. One of the reasons I like it so much is because there are so many languages to choose from, even ones that I’ve never heard of (enlighten me: where are Dari, Ojibwe and Pashto spoken?) which I’ve never seen offered by other language learning sites or software. The programme basically consists of virtual flashcards which help users to learn words and phrases – I don’t think you get a lot of grammar, but the lists of vocabulary are endless.
Duolingo is probably the most popular language learning app and website, and for good reason. It’s super easy to use, teaches reading, writing and listening, and suggests just 10-15 minutes of practice a day. It has “mini lessons” on different grammatical topics, but presents everything in a simple, interactive way. It currently offers 22 languages, so there’s plenty to choose from – but Duolingo will soon be offering courses in 6 more (including Klingon, weirdos.) I think Duolingo has become so popular mostly thanks to the app, making language learning portable.
Busuu is kind of a cross between Duolingo and BYKI, the free version, at least. It’s similar in set up to BYKI, as flashcards, but a lot more is offered to “Premium” (read: paying) members, such as grammar exercises conversations with native speakers, which is a huge bonus. Apart from not being free, the other downside to Busuu is the relatively small selection of languages. 12 is still quite a lot, but with free apps like Duolingo offering 22+, it’s easy to see why Busuu doesn’t have as many users.
I used the BBC Languages website in my beginner’s French classes at University, and as a supplement to actual classes, it was interesting and helpful. As well as basic language courses, there is a lot of cultural information, which I think is important for understanding native speakers and just makes learning a language less arduous. I expected the site to only offer a few, widely learned languages, but you can learn a little bit of 40 languages, including Catalan and Luxembourgish (who knew that was a language?)
I’m always on the lookout for new or different ways to learn languages. I’ve written a few times about why I think it’s so important, so I won’t go into that again now (check out the infographic!) but if anyone has any recommended apps or websites, or a language that they’ve loved learning, let me know in the comments!