I’m trying to learn Spanish but at the moment don’t have the chance to go to a foreign country nor can I find anyone that will help me learn.
I’ve been getting emails and comments from people who would like to study a language but do not have the resources to go abroad/access to native speakers. When I started my language journey I was in the same boat. But, it is still possible to learn your target language without leaving the house.
Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and have information at our fingertips. There are programs designed to help you learn the language of your choice by internet. Below, I have listed four online language sites to get you started in your language journey. Two of them even provides you access to native speakers for free.
Initially, please do not waste your money on expensive programs like Rosetta Stone or classes. I suggest that in the beginning you should use resources that are free and available on the internet. Then, overtime, invest (financially and time) in programs/opportunities.
On Thursday I will provide more resources that are totally free and are great to use. Stay tuned.
Duolingo is a free language learning site that offers Spanish, French, English, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Danish among many other languages. I highly recommend this site, especially for those without previous exposure to their target language because of the structure it provides. Duolingo takes the novice by the hand and gradually walks with them until they have “mastered” a strong grammatical foundation. Photo Credit
I like Duolingo because it works like a game, which can be addictive. In order to get to the next level, members need to show they have understood concepts through a series of writing, listening and reading activities. Duolingo users are given four hearts (ie. lives) before they have to repeat the level.
Beware: Duolingo should be used as a supplement in language learning. Duolingo and many of the sites listed below does not explain the theory behind the language’s grammar. It is good to invest in a textbook or even a class the further you get in your studies. Talking to native speakers and additional study material is needed when learning your target language. Also, the site does not yet offer Asian languages.
Livemocha When I started learning Spanish, I used this site occasionally. Livemocha is good because learners get practice in four parts of language learning: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Photo Credit
This site also shines because it is community based. Language learners can have their writing/speaking exercises “graded” by a native speaker. In return, members are expected to look over audio recordings and writing samples of other Livemocha users to build credit, which helps to “unlock” future lessons.
Livemocha also features a language exchange where members can talk to native speakers in their target language.
Beware: Livemocha does offer lessons that are available in 35 languages, but the quality varies. I remember the lessons for Spanish were easier to navigate than Chinese or Farsi.
SharedTalk If you cannot leave the country nor do not have access to native speakers then SharedTalk will be a gold mine. Powered by Rosetta Stone, this site puts language learners in contact with native speakers in group and individual chats. This site is one of the best resources to use when learning a language because you are speaking with native speakers. Seamlessly, you learn grammar and vocabulary (did I mention slang too) because you are putting your studies to use.
Beware: Remember that you are talking to people from all over the world. Thus, it is important to use common sense and not give out important, self-identifying information. Stay safe.
Other Sites You Should Be Aware Of
Mango Languages I’ve used this program once or twice as it is free with my American library card number (check to see if your library offers this site). Since I have not used this program in years, I cannot give a proper review. However, it is an option that I wanted to bring to your attention. I personally, would only use it only if your library offers it for free. Photo Credit
Memrise is a community based, online tool geared at memorization in languages, the humanities, math & science, among many other subjects. Through timed flash cards, space repetition, and mnemonics, language learners are given a set of words/phrases which they are expected to regurgitate. If “gardeners” successfully complete the level, i.e., planting, they are then given statistics of their accuracy. Unlike Duolingo, the four hearts and you’re out rule does not exist. Even if site users do horribly in a level they can still advance. Of course, there is always the option to “water the plants” or refresh the lesson, but it’s optional. If you like Duolingo, but are looking for greater flexibility, Memrise could be for you.
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In case you’ve missed it, check out:
How do you Pick a College Major
My Spanish & Chinese Progress (11/12/14)
History notes: This Week in Black History (Nov.16th-22nd)
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